John: Do you want to be Wal-Mart or Tiffany’s?

In Be memorable, Business, Marketing, Strategy on 10/22/2009 at 10:47 am

I hired John as my business coach several years ago to help me grow my last business. My ongoing dilemma at the time: rebranding from “totally-willing-to-bottom-dollar” to “top-quality-and-service, so-you-better-pay-up.” It was an uphill battle, and one in which I was barely profitable.

I fought him on a few things. “If I change to service-oriented, I’ll lose customers. If I charge double for certain items, I’ll lose customers. If I start charging what my time is actually worth, I’ll definitely lose customers.”

Frustrated, John fought back:

“Mari, do you want to be Wal-Mart or Tiffany’s? Both are huge. Both are industry leaders. Neither is bad. But which do you want for you? Remember what your time is worth. You’re in this to make a profit. Don’t lose money just to chase customers who don’t value what you offer.”


Ouch. And he was so right.

I’ve kept this with me in the back of my mind with every decision I’ve made with respect to branding, partnerships, and marketing strategy. It’s amazing how nine words can completely change the way you shape a business.

John, those truly life (and business)-altering words of wisdom have made more of an impact in my life than you’ll probably ever know. So thank you, thank you so very much.


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