1% Better 74% Richer - Tiger Woods at Augusta

The eyes of the golf world are fixated on Augusta Georgia this week for the first major championship of the year.  With Tiger Woods back on top of the PGA rankings, the big question on everyone’s mind is – Will Tiger win?  Will he claim his fifth iconic green jacket?

While the 77th Masters Tournament is the backdrop for this issue of Brandscapes, the lesson from this column reaches far beyond the world of professional golf.  It demonstrates that small improvements lead to big profits.

What gains can you realize from making small improvements?

Can You Improve by One Percent?

Have you ever wondered how much you would gain by being just a little bit better?

What would happen if you were just one percent better in solving your customers’ problems?  What if you honed your sales pitch to make it two percent better?  What if you made your brand three percent more attractive to your clients?

Would these small improvements in performance lead to any improvement in results?  Would you simply realize a one, two or three percent uptick?  Or are greater gains possible?

For some small improvement inspiration, consider the world of professional golf.  Golf is a game of numbers so it is easy to measure both levels of improvement and financial results.  Let’s take a trip to Augusta, the home of the Masters Tournament.

Lessons from Augusta 2012

All the speculation and headlines are focused on Tiger Woods’ prospects in this week’s Masters.  But for our small improvement insight, we’ll examine last year’s results.

In 2012 Woods’ score for the 72 hole tournament was five over par 293.  For the average golfer that would be a phenomenal success – if I’m five over par after just five holes I’m playing at the top of my game.  For Woods though it was a disappointing result, leaving him tied for 40th place.

What Does a One Percent Improvement Mean?

But what if Woods was a bit more on his game last year?  What would have happened if he was just one percent better and shaved three strokes off his score?  He would have catapulted from 40th place into a tie for 27th.  His prize money would have increased from $32,000 to $55,600.  A one percent improvement would have earned a 74 percent financial advantage.

What would have happened if Woods had improved by two percent?  A six stroke improvement would have moved Woods into a tie for 17th and boosted his earnings to $120,000.  A two percent improvement would have resulted in a monetary gain of 275 percent.

And how about a three percent improvement?  If Woods was three percent better last year, he would have tied for 8th place and taken home $224,000.  A three percent improvement would have made Woods 600 percent richer.

Compelling Profit Equations

One percent better = 74 percent richer.  Two percent better = 275 percent richer.  Three percent better = 600 percent richer.  These are pretty compelling equations.  Wouldn’t you like to tap into these returns?

Incremental Improvements Lead to Great Gains

Your industry may not be as intense a competitive environment as professional golf.  It’s unlikely that you face as many elite opponents shoehorned into such a narrow band. So the Augusta prize money equation might need to be adjusted a bit.  Perhaps you need to do more than just one percent better to achieve a 74 percent boost in rewards.

Although the numbers might look a little different in your market the overall principle still applies: incremental improvements lead to great gains.  Can your company improve by five, ten or 15 percent?

Where Do You Need to Improve?

So where should you focus your improvement efforts?  One of the highest return areas is working on your Brand Story.  Why?  Because customer perceptions of your business drive or derail your profitability.

Do You Have a Customer Perception Problem?

Many of the companies I meet with have a customer perception problem.  Customers don’t understand the true value they provide.  Their products, services and technologies offer significant advantages over their competitors.  But all too often those advantages remain undiscovered and underappreciated because of a faulty Brand Story.

Their websites present long-winded technical explanations rather than tight engaging phrases written from the customer’s point of view.  Sales presentations are filled with molecular level details.  They elucidate what and how messages, but fail to address the why topics that attract attention and prompt customers to buy.

Does your Brand Story suffer from any of these common issues?

Big Improvements Are Possible

Fortunately big improvements are possible.  When I guide clients through a Brand Story engagement, their focus changes.  They’re able to see a bigger picture.  They climb out of the trenches of what and how so they can explore the why.  Often they’ll gain a new understanding of the true value they provide.  New benefit-focused phrasing emerges to present online and in person.  Technical complexity is replaced with customer clarity.

Why Your Should Improve Your Brand Story

The clearer your Brand Story, the better you will be at building loyal long term client relationships.  The more loyal customers you have, the more referrals you’ll receive.

The clearer your Brand Story, the less effort it will take to guide prospects to a buying decision.  You’ll speed up the sales cycle.

The clearer your Brand Story the greater your market share.  Plus you’ll be able to command a higher price point.

Improving your Brand Story leads to great gains in the marketplace.