Sunday, December 15, 2013

Science of Business – Vacuums


There are very few things that Mother Nature hates worse than a vacuum.  Look around you and you will see virtually everything is filled with something.  By definition, a vacuum is space that is empty of matter.  Liquids, solids or gases, Mother Nature continually seeks to fill each and every vacuum encountered.

In the world of science, vacuums can be incredible useful.  Vacuums create suction which can help seal containers, attach things together and help us in our daily cleaning chores.  Our cars depend on vacuums for various emissions and throttle controls.  Pumps of all kinds depend upon vacuums in order to work properly.

Interestingly, when you look at how science has applied vacuums to our everyday lives, the purpose behind a vacuum is to create a flow in a desired direction.  Given that a vacuum is static; it has no motion as it is an absence of matter, isn’t it amazing that this static is actually a source of a flow of matter.

In the world of business, there are clear examples of how the laws surrounding vacuums apply. 

Just as nature abhors a vacuum, so does a business.  When a new market is created or identified, there is effectively a vacuum condition which draws entrepreneurs to fill the void and service this new market.  When an employee leaves a company, there is a void left behind that needs to be filled.  Some companies shuffle remaining staff to fill the void and others hire replacements to fill the void.  However addressed, the void gets filled. 

Successful selling is all about filling a void; getting the prospect to recognize the existence of the void (vacuum) and to help fill that void in an ideal manner.  In fact, were it not for the voids and the vacuum it creates, I suggest to you that there would be no motion in any business.  Commerce does not happen from pushing.  Force is not how a booming business is built.  Quite the contrary.  The booming business is built from identifying a void, enlarging it, filling it and continuing to uncover similar voids and filling them.  The larger the void, the more attention the void attracts and the more people there are trying to supply their solution to fill the void.

This is the obvious application of vacuums to the world of business.  It applies to products, markets, people and leadership.  The voids create vacuums and they will be filled.

There is also a less obvious, but no less important, application of vacuums to business; creating business flows. 

The filling of a void involves flows.  The filling of a vacuum involves those same flows.  Just as science uses vacuums to create flows, so too can a business.  Funny thing about flows, they can only go in 1 direction for so long before they must be reversed.  Let me give you an example.

A common camping trick for creating a shower is to suspend a 1 gallon jug of water from a tree.  Poke a small hole in the bottom of the jug and watch the water start to drain out.  Assuming the lid is secured, the water will exit the jug in a small stream for a minute or so and then stop.  The reason the water stopped flowing out was that a vacuum was created in the top of the jug and it eventually grew strong enough to keep the water in the jug.  Allow air to flow into the jug and water can start flowing out again.  Simple physics.

In business, the same flows apply.  Marketing, advertising, promotion or whatever you want to call it, are all examples of outbound flows.  If you put out enough outbound flows, you will create the hanging jug condition; the outflow cannot continue until an inflow occurs.  The simplicity of this model is that nature will supply the inflow. 

Companies that are unaware of this natural law will often decide to squeeze the “jug” in hopes of getting more sales to occur.  Like the plastic jug, squeezing harder does force more outflow but at what effort level relative to inflow?  Essentially, pushing harder and harder on the target audience does not create inflow just as there is a point in which no more water will exit the jug no matter how hard you squeeze.  

The key is to understand how to balance outflow and inflow. 

In our jug example, the pinhole lets out a very small stream of water.  Does not take long before the water stops flowing.  If the target market for your business is small and clearly identified, the amount of promotion to that audience that is needed in order to create an inflow is not very large.  If your market is very large or not well defined, it will take an outflow that is much larger is size and much longer in duration until the natural inflow condition occurs.  This is a physical law of nature. 

Want your promotion efforts to pay off, narrow the focus as much as you can.  The more specific you can be about the target audience, the more effective the efforts will be.  Once clearly defined, outflow to the targets.  Be sure the message reaches the targets without inundating them.  Then stop and wait for the inflow.  If the inflow does not happen, you either did not reach the audience or the volume was too low.  Verify the audience and increase the volume of outflow.  The wise promotions person will accurately track how much went out and how much has come in. 

As you would expect, the effectiveness of the promotion itself plays a role.  Survey your target audience to find the effective messages before spending large sums of money on promotion.  When you get the right message to the right audience, the inflow happens. 

Vacuums are caused by voids in both business and nature.  Flows occur as a result of filling vacuums.  The smart business owner recognizes this condition and makes it work for him.  A void is an opportunity.  Flows of sufficient volume to the right targets create a vacuum that will create an inflow once the outflow is stopped.  Too much outflow and the process stops – the vacuum is too strong.  Too little outflow and the vacuum takes a long, long time to be created.  Someone else may well see the same void and fill it before you do.  The key is recognize the need for balance.  Enough outflow is needed in order to create the vacuum.  Let the inflow happen and then outflow again. 

Apply this simple concept and your business will expand.  It’s just the laws of nature.

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