I first heard the term in the 4th grade. I was waiting to perform a magic act at my school’s talent show. Off the stage walked Juliana Verde. She had just completed a truly amazing tap dance routine to God Bless America. The applause and cheers were deafening. The teacher patted me on my back and said “Knock ‘em dead, kid.” Two hundreds parents waited in front of the curtain. The curtains opened. I soiled my undies.
It was do or die time. But months of rehearsal and preparation were not enough. Even my most amazing trick, yanking a flower from my ear, was received with the mere obligatory single clap. The parents weakly covered their yawns with fake stretches and coughs. I didn’t knock ‘em dead.
“Knock ‘em dead,” “Knock ‘em dead, kid.” How many times have you heard that? Probably a lot and probably not only at your theatrical debuts, but in your business too.
The problem is we often don’t knock ‘em dead. The audience, our business’s prospects, is way too alive to be knocked dead. The Juliana Verde’s of the world have already put on a show that no competitor will ever match. Regardless of how much you prepared.
To knock ‘em dead you must deliver something that is completely unexpected. You must wow your prospects so much that their jaws drop open. When everyone is trying to amaze the same audience, your potential prospects come to expect the absolute highest of standards. They expect amazement and your likelihood of success becomes far more challenging.
But have no worries. There is a trick to amazing them every time: Go to an audience who is already dead. I’m not saying dead as in the morgue dead. I am saying people who are not being impressed. They are effectively dead to what is currently being offered and just waiting for you to amaze them back to life. They are waiting for your God Bless America tap dance.
Here is how you do it in two steps:
Step 1 – Think about the market your company is trying to serve. Where are there dead customers? For example, maybe they get consistently slow service, or maybe they can only get service from 8 to 4, or maybe there is no hospitality, or maybe the products are poor quality, or maybe there is no human side. Once you find a market with prospects so dead that they’ve forgotten what it’s like to be amazed, you have found your opportunity to perform.
Step 2 – Now figure out how you can amaze them in a way that will leave them wanting more. Starbucks launched to success by offering great coffee with a jaw dropping amazing experience. Fedex did it by getting stuff from here to there with knock ‘em alive speed and accuracy. Hedgehog Leathers has brought an entire legion of outdoorsmen back to life by making incredible leather sheaths with a 25 year warranty.
On final tip. hatever you do, don’t try to impress ‘em by cruddin’ up your shorts. It didn’t help my talent show debut and it won’t help you either.