How to Increase Profitability by Doing the Right Thing

Shel Horowitz, founder of the Business Ethics Pledge and author of Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First, offers five tips on...

1. Base your business in the Magic Triangle. Honesty, integrity, and quality are the three sides of the Magic Triangle of business success. Create the kind of company that stands for something more than the bottom line, and your bottom line will increase.

2. Stop worrying about market share. The world has more than enough customers for you. When you embrace abundance--the idea that the universe provides enough to go around--all the energy you've put into chopping down competitors can be channeled into productive, growth-enhancing activities. Example: By opening up the PC architecture many years ago, IBM dropped its market share--but created a vast expansion in the overall market (and its PC revenues).

3. Partner with your competitors. It may sound counter-intuitive, but competing and complementary businesses can become your best sales agents. The world's largest companies understand this--which is why Toyota and General Motors have product development partnerships, and why FedEx and the US Postal Service cooperate to deliver Express Mail and to provide FedEx collection points at post offices.

4. Understand the true brand experience. It's not your advertising and marketing--it's what happens when a customer attempts to do business with you. How helpful and courteous are your staff, both in-store and on the phone? How friendly and useful is your website? How does the customer really feel about working with you?

5. Turn customers into sales agents. At least one third of your business should be repeat customers or people they've referred. If you're still struggling to pull in business, either you haven't set up good systems to harness these super-profitable customers, or you need to address the deeper reasons why they don't return.

Originally published in the Orange County Register, March 28, 2005

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