March 2012

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Allan Benton runs Benton’s Smokey Mountain Country Hams (widely regarded as the best ham/bacon in the country/world).

In this (short) video he, in a very understated manner, puts forth some really important business principles.

For instance, there’s a scene where he tells a potential customer the following:

“If you don’t like smoke, you’re not going to like my bacon.”

Lots of wisdom here.

Too often, companies/bands/etc. believe that their product/music/art appeals to everyone. It doesn’t. In fact, thinking this, and, worse, acting on this theory will kill you.

It’s far more important to understand your values/purpose, and then attempt to identify others who share these values, and put what you do in front of them, than it is to be chameleon-like, and try to change to please every customer

What this means is that there will be people who simply are never going to appreciate what you do. This doesn’t make you or them wrong.

What’s “wrong” is not recognizing (as quickly as possible) that these people will never be good customers, and, instead of “firing” them — so you can move on to (and clear the way for) good customers — trying to cater to them.

Doing so takes your time and focus away from customers who are valuable.

Additionally, because there is a lack of fundamental value alignment, no matter what you do, you’ll never please these un-value-aligned customers, and this will only make them more dissatisfied, and more vocal about their lack of satisfaction. This, of course, unfairly poisons the impression of potential good customers.

So…the customer is not always right, and the faster you “fire” the wrong customers, the better.