Like A Virgin

For the second time in a month, I flew across the country.

I flew United first, which was a no-brainer choice. No stops and I could add to the few hundred thousand miles I’d already racked up with them. I know them. And so, when the price is close enough, United usually gets the nod.

The second time, I tried Virgin America. Their base ticket price was the same, but I really wanted the guarantee that I’d get an extra inch or so of legroom without having to pay another $300 for premium economy. I got a lot more than I bargained for.

From the personal screen in front of my face, to being able to order movies, snacks and drinks from my seat (you can run a tab—how cool is that?), to the most prized resource of all: a just-for-me electrical outlet to charge my gizmos.

The ability to recharge all of my road warrior devices (most especially after frantically running for a flight with all my charge signals precariously low) is priceless. Had I known it existed, I’d have happily paid more for that ticket, even if the legroom (always high on my list) had been identical. I doubt I’m alone.

Because I’m always fascinated by the brand experience, I did pay attention to details: the clever safety video, the happy flight attendants and the absence of that claustrophobia-inducing cart in the aisle (courtesy of the seat-back ordering system).

It’s the classic juxtaposition of the old guard and the new upstart. Virgin simply (yet profoundly) executed a fresh take on an old business model.

What about the rest of us? We have far simpler, less capital-intensive businesses than airlines. We have precious few excuses for not innovating constantly.

So, if you were starting your business today, how would you do it?

How would you find clients? What technology would you use to enhance their experience? What talent would you attract and how would you engage and keep them?

Try looking at your business model like a virgin. What’s ripe for change?

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  • The key point I see focuses on the need to always “Look Within” (a phrase I also like since Jim Messina wrote a song for the Poco reunion LP, Legacy, with that title). I will not claim to constantly review and re-think what and how I do my work — including promotion and marketing, but frequent review remains the order of the day.
    An important thing I find involves the flexibility to induce your clients to reach out and the modes that work in each case differs. Some just phone; others will text and email. Many the evolutions for me involve technology and seizing what improvements offer, including the ability to work off-site so I can spend time with a client and still also resolve and address matters for other clients.
    I also adapted my model to help clients connect with new business partners; it was something that resulted from meeting with prospects on my usual focus but I counseled them that another approach made sense; they agreed and engaged me to guide them.

  • Thank you Rochelle…
    Very good article, you certainly have given us something to think about…

  • I have been doing this for many years and always thought I “knew it all”. Obviously none of us know it all. If I knew then what I know now, many changes would take place at the onset. A key thing is to continually stretch the limits of the box and / or your brain to come up with the plan to satisfy more customers with your business plan; not yourself. There is an old expression that goes something like this: take care of the needs of others and they will take care of you.

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