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Clear expectations

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Being prepared for the needs of tomorrow’s clients is more than just being tech-ready. Author and HIA 2020 National Conference keynote speaker Michael McQueen talks about how clarity and character are the foundations for success.

Anne-Maree Brown

General Manager of Content

When award-winning speaker, author and trend forecaster Michael McQueen was a young man just a few years out of university, he noticed a generational divide between young workers and their older associates; a lack of understanding that was causing friction. Through educational sessions and published books he set about to help bridge the divide.

Fast-forward to today, and some 16 years on Michael is well-known in business circles for more than just the millennial mindset. His passion is to share his in-depth understanding of what builds successful brands and how businesses, large and small, can thrive in a constantly changing consumer-led landscape.

Award-winning speaker, author and trend forecaster Michael McQueen

Keep them in the loop

In this day and age, with more and more information available to us at the touch of a button, the ability to compare and research has led to a build-up of expectations in consumers’ minds. They imagine outcomes and want businesses to advise them of how their conclusions will be realised.

Decisions are not just about product offering and price anymore, but are based on terms of the consumer knowing who they are dealing with, and deciding why they should put their trust and faith in one brand more than another.

‘Building in its very essence has not changed that dramatically over the years,’ Michael says. ‘By its very nature the residential building sector has been able to be conservative and wary of change for a long time compared to banking, finance and information technology.

‘That means you have to be even more committed to not let the tiniest bit of complacency creep in.’ 

There is a great old quote from Einstein: ‘The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result’. But Michael says perhaps we should look at turning this on its head.

‘Perhaps the definition of insanity today is the opposite: it’s doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the same result,’ he says. ‘The days of expecting that the same sales techniques and that the same ways of approaching audiences will result in the same outcomes is obsolete.’

Michael believes businesses have to be aware that today’s consumers expect to be constantly informed of progress.

‘Trust is lost when people feel like they don’t have all the information they need to feel secure. They want to know where things are up to with their project. Where are we up to on budget? How far are we off important milestones? Finding ways to keep your customers in the loop along each step of the way is the key.’

Humble and hungry

According to Michael, who you are as a business, the all-important ‘character’ that defines you, plays just as heavily into building trust when it comes to consumer choice.

But identifying what your character, or in other words what your ‘brand’ represents, is a question that is fraught with more questions than answers in the mind of some business owners – especially when there is a fear that confidence will appear as arrogance.

For Michael the key is to stay humble and hungry. Humble in terms of, what do I not know yet? What do I need to learn? What are the skills I need to take on board?

‘Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less,’ he says. ‘Everyone as an individual or as a business owner is their own chief marketing officer. You have to find ideas that feel “you” – that don’t feel slick or smarmy or awkward. Find a way of communicating that fits in your boundaries.’

He adds that trust-based marketing is not about ‘look how good I am’ – it’s about ‘look how I add value, look what our clients are saying’.

‘This is the kind of marketing we all should be engaged in; and the good news is that it’s not the shameless kind of self-promotion that makes people feel uncomfortable.’

Lasting impressions

When it comes to further defining your brand and character, Michael explains that your reputation always should be what people say about you when you walk out of the room.

‘You can have fancy words and fancy logos – but what impression do you leave in the hearts and minds?’ he asks.

‘One thing I suggest is that everyone asks themselves the question: “What would make me turn up for free? What would make you volunteer to do what you do?” Because then you start to think about what you’re actually passionate about. That opens up your mind to [determining] “what do I contribute?” [and] that’s where the crisp sets of brand identity come into sharp focus.’

Michael believes that it really is the people factor that builds trust. If you are not clear of your purpose away from profits, then people will feel that you are only engaging them as a number; a way to reach revenue targets.

‘Everything you do as a builder should be with the mindset – I want to catch up with this person in one, two, or 10 years’ time…but will they want to talk to you? If you cut corners the brand damage at stake is enormous, just to save a little bit of money on one project.’

He says for the residential building industry it doesn’t get much more powerful than building someone’s home: ‘[This is] where they are going to live, where they will bring their children home from hospital, where children will learn to ride a bike, or where they will celebrate birthdays and occasions.’ 

One task at a time

Everyone loves to feel on top of their game every day. But what happens when you hit a rut and your mojo evaporates?

‘It’s hard to maintain momentum and energy when your business is physically, mentally and emotionally taxing. But it’s really all about focus,’ Michael says. ‘The whole idea of multitasking is a fallacy and it causes so much stress and anxiety.’

Where momentum kicks in is when you apply focus and intentional activity to one thing at a time. It’s then that you start getting those results. 

‘Ask yourself, what are the things I need to do right now? Do as much as you can on that one thing until you can’t do any more. Then move to the next thing.’

Michael McQueen will be a keynote speaker at the HIA 2020 National Conference on the Gold Coast from 28–30 May.

HIA 2020 National Conference

The program for next year’s conference has been released, with Dylan Alcott (athlete, advocate, entrepreneur and philanthropist) and Holly Ransom (world-leading disruption strategist) joining the line-up of speakers. More will be confirmed soon, so stay updated on announcements or register your spot.

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