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Dave’s blog

What the CU Buffaloes Are Showing Me About Customer Acquisition

I went to the University of Colorado football game last weekend along with 52,000 other people – the most fans in 20 years.  Winning attracts fans.

photo courtesy of Evan Semón Photography

I’ve been thinking of how I can “model” what a winning team does and use that to attract more customers:


Customers have to see this.  When I started my business I practically gave away the work, and then way overdelivered.  Why?  So that I could show the next customer that my customers were winners.

Keep winning.

Sounds simple and of course it’s not.  Winning teams don’t tolerate long cycles of failure.  After a loss they redouble their efforts.  After a losing season, they change coaches, change players, do what it takes to get back to winning.

Be humble about winning.

Fans are massively attracted to a winner, but not an arrogant winner.  Coaches thank players.  Players thank fans.  Businesses thank customers.

Listening to This Turned My Rant to a Laugh

There is so much negativity and I’m part of it.  When I saw this ad, I had some really critical, snarky thoughts about it, as well as about other ridiculous ads that I feel are disingenuous and insulting.  I started to write a blasting commentary about the responsibility of businesses to uphold the Colorado brand of collaboration and integrity.

After writing my first draft of this post, I listened to the Brian Buffini podcast episode “You Are a Diamond,” and it put me in a positive frame of mind.  I started thinking of this post and decided I was being too negative and critical.  With a lightened attitude I saw this ad as funny – the silliness of a ONCE in a LIFETIME EVENT has been HELD OVER! by the same company whose last ad was a “Private Sale” advertised in the Denver Post.  The more I think about it, the more humorous it all is.  So?

So that brings me to the NEW point of this post: listening to something positive turned me from having a critical and negative outlook, to feeling upbeat and acting positively.  This silly ad reminded me of what so many have taught: my attitude shapes the lens of my entire perspective.    

What if I fall to my death? Part 2 – Trusting Strangers

I discussed my last blog with my most recent podcast guest, Chris Wright, CEO of Liberty Oilfield Services – an avid outdoorsman and climber.  He suggested that there’s more at play when I said I decided to “ignore risk” of using rock climbing anchors placed by strangers, simply because I wanted to climb.  He suggested that I felt, while perhaps not 100% certain, confident and secure based on the sense of a “trusted community” – the idea that while strangers installed the anchors that secured my life, these are strangers that I inherently trust.  Why?  Because there is a BRAND associated with rock climbers who install anchors for use by brethren rock climbers.  This is a brand I trust – and with my life, it turns out because I did fall several times, caught by anchors secured by people I’ve never met, and probably never will (thanks!).

Thanks to expert anchor installers, nearing the top. Ouray, CO

We’ve all talked about a continuum of brands we do and don’t trust.  It makes me think, “What more can I do, personally, to be a brand that others would trust?  With their lives?”  In business, is my brand, your brand, one that customers would risk their lives on?  Even short of life and death, is it a brand about which people feel 100% confident?

What if I fall to my death?

Sometimes risk just has to be IGNORED so that WANT can win.  I was going to say risk has to be “accepted,” but when it comes to life and death, even big failure, IGNORED is a better word.  Here’s a story to illustrate.

Yes, I’m up there – look closely!

I was honored by my wife and sons with a surprise birthday climbing trip to Ouray.  At climbing gyms, I know that the rope is secured by over-engineered, professionally installed anchors.  In Ouray, as my sons took turns “lead-climbing” to set the top rope using anchors bolted by strangers, I wondered, “were these anchors well-installed?” Then, I climbed because I wanted to, not because I was certain it was safe.*

That made me think more about risks taken by entrepreneurs.  Lots has been written about business risk – risk assessment, boldly taking risk, minimizing risk.  It’s clear to me though that…

The difference between those who start a business and those who don’t isn’t determination of risk, it’s determination.

Entrepreneurs simply decide that they want to climb.

* My guest for the next PROCO360 podcast, Chris Wright, CEO of Liberty Oilfield Services and an avid climber, has a further theory I’ll share in Part 2 of this blog subject.

Example: Reminder of Why We Need Business Thinking in Government

My county sent me a license plate renewal for $188, and gave me the option of paying online for a $5.00 “convenience fee.”

I know, it’s just $5* but I don’t like wasting money – even more, I don’t like what I believe to be illogical, bureaucratic policies, so instead of paying $5, I took two minutes and 50 cents to mail a check.  Those of us in business know if the cost of paying online were free or close to free, the county would instantly have the money and reduce administrative processing costs.

This little anecdote offers suggests two points to consider:

  • Incentives do drive behavior, and not always in constructive ways. When customers aren’t behaving as we’d like, could we be incenting them to do so?
  • It’s election season – considering my “convenience fee” example, let’s put people in charge who have shown that they will govern with business thinking.

* By the way, pre-tax one may have had to earn $8.00, which compounded at 5% over 20 years is $21.23. That 2 minutes became $637/hour.

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