Based on the definition…

‘A person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit.’

No, he isn’t.

He doesn’t make any money, or attempt to.

Despite this, the man in Red and White has an abundance of qualities that are similar to those who I have seen make a lot of money in life.

So, what can we learn from Santa’s North Pole operation…?

A) Build up a following

Create something that adds value to others. Create something unique, with purpose and a vision. Your vision might seem ridiculous at first, but so did all the best ideas.

Start small, get some super fans, they will do the shouting for you. Santa doesn’t have to advertise, everyone knows about him, knows that he will deliver (pun intended!) for them and is someone they can trust.

Like Santa, why not give something away at first too. Show people what you can do rather than telling them. Give your followers, who are your potential customers, something for free to kick-start engagement. This could be something that is free to you too, such as advice or a list of ideas of how they could improve themselves or their business (maybe with the help of you and your company).

B) Know your brand

Do you know what your product is or just what it does?

For example if you sell supercars, are you a providing people with motorised tools that can get them from A to B? Or are you actually providing them with status symbols that will increase their self-esteem, make them look powerful and help them have more sex?

Are Parker pens writing tools that rival biros or ballpoint pens? No, they are luxury gifts that rival other luxury gifts, such as cashmere jumpers or Burberry scarfs.

Know what your products are, not what they do and know who you are, not what you do. This way you can market your business or services successfully, in the right places to the right people.

Is Santa a random fat bloke who gives kids presents once a year? Or is he in fact a legendary and mysterious hero, who inspires and is worshipped by children all over the globe? I would suggest the latter.

C) Over deliver

One of my most hated clichés in business is, ‘under promise and over deliver.’ Why would you do that? It is just lying to your customer.

Why not commit to something and then provide them with more than they were asking for instead?

A quick way to the administrators is to only ever provide your customers with what they pay for, or the bare minimum. You are an expert to them; give them ideas, give them advice, give them a product or service better than they could have imagined.

Do that and you have a repeat customer.

Santa doesn’t just give children what is on their Christmas lists, he throws in a few surprises too.

D) Develop your mastermind

As the old quote goes, ‘If you are the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.’

Hire people who are smarter than you.

Santa recognises he can’t do everything. He is the charismatic and visionary leader of his operation. The real hard work is done by his army of elves and helpers.

The elves can make toys better than him and the reindeers can get him where he needs to be. His job is to keep the workforce happy and motivated and to do the behind the scenes tasks day to day. He is clearly a great leader of his empire.

No one can be successful on their own to any scalable degree. The most successful people I have met and studied recognise this and develop a team of masters of their craft around them. Together they can take on the world. Maybe not in a single night like Santa, but in time success will inevitably come.

E) Be on time

Santa knows that if he isn’t finished with his deliveries by first light, the whole job will be a failure. He has to be on time, stick to his schedule and cannot compromise on this at all, not once, or his entire future will be in jeopardy.

Whilst your business might not be destroyed if you are late for a meeting, punctuality is certainly important. After all, if you can’t be bothered to arrive when you said you would, how can a client have faith in you to deliver a project on time? Or trust you when you tell them that your product is the solution to their problem?

F) Plan enough so you can just show up

Santa works all year to make sure that his one big night goes without a problem. It is planned in intricate detail, the products are built well in advance and everybody knows what they need to do. All he has to do by Christmas Eve is just show up and take care of the delivery.

Before a meeting I like to learn as much as possible about the client: Who are they? What are their desires? What motivates them? What are their fears? What is their personality? What is their job? Who do they report to? What are they looking for? How can we help them? What will happen to them if they buy our products? What will happen to them if they don’t buy our products etc.…?

This way I can plan my presentation, training, pitch etc. with maximum impact. Once this is complete I can just show up on the day and my planning will take care of everything else.

G) Listen

Whilst you can plan in detail as outlined above, you can never know the answers to all your questions without meeting someone. You can only use your creative imagination.

When you do meet, ask the right questions and listen to your client. They will tell you the answers to your questions if you ask them. You learn when you ask questions and genuinely listen to the responses rather than just planning what you will say next in your head.

Then, once you have a clear picture of their drivers and requirements you can propose your offering correctly.

Santa listens to every child’s Christmas wishes; he doesn’t presume every boy wants a bike and every girl a doll. He knows what they want as individuals. Last year my stepson wanted a trampoline for Christmas (in mid-winter!). I wish I hadn’t been listening at that point, it’s still in the garage unpacked a year later!

Oh there’s another point, your customer might not always know what they want. So why not create something for them? You are the expert.

H) Create a sense of mystery

This is a powerful way to generate some curiosity among your customers. They will naturally need to know more about you, your product and what you can do for them.

Use your imagination and come up with some ideas of how you could do this for your business.

I) Consider limiting supply to increase value

Santa only delivers once a year, therefore every year children get incredibly excited about Christmas. If it happened every month or was available anytime there would be nothing special about it.

A lot of retailers both stores and via e-commerce use this approach with different promotions. So do airlines, ‘only 5 seats left at this price, book now!’ What they don’t say is that prices might be cheaper once ‘this price’ has gone!

Could you incorporate this idea of salesmanship into your business? Could you sell something for more money and sell more of them if supply was limited? Can you create the feeling of needing to ‘act now’ amongst your customers?

It is an idea worth looking at.

Good luck to you in 2017 and Merry Christmas to you all!

– Matthew Brown

Do you agree with my points here? Share and like this post if you do. I look forward to your own comments too, what would you add to this list?

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