Roy Spence is the Austin-based advertising legend and entrepreneur who coined the phrase “Don’t Mess With Texas” and developed the Southwest Airlines slogan, “You are now free to move about the country.” As part of this month’s Bright Ideas theme, SSI reached outside the industry to tap Spence’s views on leadership, team building, company culture, among other topics relevant to company owners and managers.
How can company owners who fear change transform themselves in order to embrace change and innovation?
First of all, I think it needs to be change leadership. I don’t think you can manage change. I tried, by the way. I think you have to lead change. If you see that you are in the business of delivering peace of mind — and not security systems or monitoring — then it allows you more freedom to change. Just like Southwest Airlines, we’re not in the transportation business, we’re in the business to democratize the skies.
There are some fundamental things we’re not going to do to violate our purpose and our values, but if we’re going to be in that big business of democratizing the skies, we have to change because the consumers change. The folks who are really afraid of change have got to realize that in the end, life is about change. Just because we’re selling from smartphones now, or all these connected devices, if you don’t know it, hire somebody who does.
If you think you’re in the railroad business and not the transportation business, if you think you’re in the airline business and not the freedom business, if you think you’re in the discount business and not the save-people-money business; the higher business you’re in, it forces you to change because if you don’t, you won’t be able to deliver what you promise. It’s a hard question, but I think it’s change leadership. Leadership has to lead the change. I don’t think you can manage change.
What do you view as the least understood facet of building brand recognition in the marketplace?
The least understood is the branding of your values and not just your price. If I owned Roy’s Security Systems, I would have an outdoor board that said, “Peace of mind for $48 a month,” instead of promoting just security systems or monitoring services.
With small businesses in particular, and I know a lot about this, the pressure to make sales is so intense that we continue to sell price and items versus purposes. Especially in today’s marketplace where people know everything about everything, communicate on your Web site and [with other marketing collateral] and let people know what you stand for and not just what you sell. That’s so important in today’s marketplace.
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