We sit down with Allan Bonsall and talk about his latest book Entrepreneurial Intelligence.
Allan has spent a lifetime building brands. As CEO of two of Queensland’s largest advertising agencies through the 80s and 90s he worked with some of this country’s best known.For the past 8 years Allan has appeared on Steve Austin’s ABC radio morning program, The Hidden Persuaders. Allan has just launched his latest book;Entrepreneurial Intelligence looks at the concepts of vision and brand as key attributes of successful entrepreneurs in particularfounder of Di Bella Coffee, Phillip Di Bella.
1. Allan, what do the great entrepreneurs understand about brands?
In a word, everything – they simply get it, because they understand that at the heart of their success is the customer. Anyone who understands the concept of marketing knows that the business of marketing is building brands. In turn, everything that marketing is focused on is an outcome derived by locating the customer at the heart of decision-making. Name any great entrepreneur and then take a look at where their customer is positioned relative to their business. I will be blown away if you say anywhere other than at the very core of that business. But don’t confuse what I’m talking about with some service ethic mantra. This is not about saying the customer is always right; this is about a commitment to knowing everything there is to know about your customer, and then utilising that knowledge to understand or anticipate their needs better than anyone else. That’s what great entrepreneurs do; that’s how great entrepreneurs understand the power of brands.
2. Early in the book Phillip Di Bella is quoted saying that he hoped to move the entrepreneurial thinker to the doers. What separates the two?
The obvious answer of “doing” is too trite, but clearly there is a point of transition where entrepreneurs turn a great idea into a powerful opportunity. The question is how and when does that occur? What is the catalyst that underpins that transition for those who succeed beyond their wildest dreams? And why do thousands of great ideas finish up going nowhere? For me the answer lies in the formula of Entrepreneurial Intelligence; that combination of vision, passion, brand and emotional intelligence outlined in the book. Get all the parts working for you and the transition from thinker to doer happens as a matter of course. Get only part of the formula working for you and the transition may never occur.
3. In the book there is a quote that says every part of the operation has the potential to build or knock down the brand promise… How does one manage the cost vs. fulfilling the promise?
Let me start by offering a caution: if the cost of delivering the promise is too high, review the promise. It’s likely that you will never make the business work. The second part to the answer is more pragmatic and it deals with the concept of trade-offs.
The key to understanding customers is to know what they rate as important, and what they don’t. I have been a strident critic of satisfaction surveys because of their failure to rate what customer’s see as important, rather than what the authors of the survey think. Getting inside your customer’s heads will start to identify the things they see as fulfilling their need. Once you understand that you can then begin to identify where to trade-off.
In Brand-aid, the book I co-wrote with Dr John Harrison from the University of Queensland, we used a concept called the “cycle of service” to identify customer interaction points with a product or service. At first glance the list may not appear that long, but step into the shoes of your customer and the list becomes a potential minefield. It starts when they first encounter your message and may not end until they have reason to deal with your accounts department. At each point the cycle of service assesses the likely damage or the positive value of the interaction. At the end of the assessment it is possible to evaluate where experiences need to be strengthened, orwhere trade-offs are required, or even, heaven forbid, when we can rest on our laurels. A word of warning – never rest on your laurels.
4. Why do you think people find it hard to set a vision?
In Entrepreneurial Intelligence I urge people to give themselves the authority to dream. I think people find it hard to allow themselves the freedom to dream. It takes imagination and courage to create a vision but people shouldn’t be frightened of learning how from the great visionaries.
In 1963 Martin Luther King stood on the steps of the Lincoln Monument in Washington DC and told the world that he had a dream, a dream to free the black people of America from racial prejudice and hate. Sadly Martin Luther King was gunned down by an assassin’s bullet but before his untimely death did more to achieve his vision than any other single American.
A vision is simply a picture you create in your head of a future place where your product or service reigns supreme. It is a future place, which is both aspirational and achievable even though you may never fully realise your vision, and it is a future place which clearly identifies what you need to do to get there.
5. When you are not thinking about branding what do you do to relax?
My wife, Jann and I are fortunate to live on acreage in the Noosa Hinterland and spend the little spare time we have ridding the place of weeds like camphor laurel and replacing them with natives. We are also very involved with our local community and enjoy making whatever contribution we can to the prosperity of the region.
I have to confess that I don’t have a hobby as such. I thought writing might fill that void but then that became a part of my business.
If you are looking at ways that can help drive revenue and profit, feel free to give us a call for a casual chat on 1300 235 378.