An Award-Winning Performance…Every Time

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award winning performanceSome of you know that I used to produce a sketch comedy TV show in Seattle called Almost Live! It was on the air for fifteen years, and number one in its time slot for ten straight years. During those fifteen years, my team and I won more than 100 Emmy Awards. At the risk of sounding immodest, we were really, really good at what we did. Our goal was to give an award-winning performance every week, and most of the time we did just that.

So here’s the thing that always amazed me.

Each week, my team of writers and performers—all Emmy Award winners—would do our show in a TV studio with a live studio audience of 175 people. And each week, it was those 175 people—people who had never written a joke or a comedy sketch in their lives; people who had zero Emmy Awards to their name—it was those people who told us whether or not we were any good at our job.

And they were always right.

See, our audience—our customers—didn’t care how many Emmys we had. They didn’t care how many other famous people we’d written for. They didn’t even care how good the show was last week. All they cared about was that we gave an award-winning performance for them, that night.

I’ll bet your customers are the same.

No matter whether you’re a lawyer, an electrician, a restaurateur, or in any other field, your customers really only care about one thing: themselves. How will you solve their problem? How will you make their life better? How will you save them money?

Yes, your credits, your awards, and your glowing testimonials will help draw new customers to you. They are all important parts of your overall marketing message. But the one thing you absolutely must do in order to keep those new customers is to give an award-winning performance—for each customer, every time.

I once hired a plumber to install a new garbage disposal in my kitchen sink. This is a plumber who spends a huge amount of money advertising his plumbing firm. The advertising touts their great service, and their legions of happy customers. My experience? I felt that I was overcharged for shoddy work. I won’t be hiring them again. I won’t be a return customer.

Maybe the particular plumber who came to my house was having an off day. Maybe he had just had a fight with his wife. Maybe he got a speeding ticket on the way to work. I don’t know and I don’t care. I also don’t care if he did the most outstanding garbage disposal installation in the entire history of garbage disposal installations just the day before. When it came to my installation, I didn’t get an award-winning performance.

Our studio audience told us with their laughter (or lack thereof) whether or not we were giving an award-winning performance. They gave us immediate, tangible feedback.

The feedback your customers give you if you don’t deliver an award-winning performance may not be quite so tangible.

They just won’t call again.


About the Author:

29-time Emmy Award winner and Hall of Fame keynote speaker Bill Stainton, CSP is an expert on Innovation, Creativity, and Breakthrough Thinking. He helps leaders and their teams come up with innovative solutions — on demand — to their most challenging problems.
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  • Brian Walter says:

    Bill…I really like your point about the 175 audience members did not have the same qualifications that you did…yet they were the ones who determined your degree of success. So often if a customer doesn’t respond “properly” to our work or brilliance we think it is THEM. Hard to accept that it’s almost always US.

    Would love to see future posts about the corporate equivalent of validating laughter (other than re-orders…which is obvious).

    Brian Walter

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