USPs are dead in our “NEW World”

Yesterday I had a brainstorming session and I almost stepped into the trap of the old ways of selling: The product and feature marketing and sales strategy. Somehow the person kept on talking about USPs and I kept on thinking why did I forget this in my strategy… what’s wrong here?

3 hours later it dawned on me. I am not selling products. I am selling values. As a matter of fact I never in my life was a product and feature person. What made and still makes me unique, is my focus on the clients’ needs/wants/desires. We call this today “customer centered” sales strategy, or “complex” solution selling. Complex because we cannot just read off a list of product features anymore, if we want to be successful compared to our competitors.

Why does USP selling not work anymore?
Most of the products and services on the market are in a so-called “mature state” in the product life cycle. Rarely do we have “really new” products and services lately.
I, of course mainly think about the IT industry whilst making this statement. However, due to my consulting engagements in many different industries, I have a good overview of the different industries and their products and services. Racking my brain I cannot come up with anything really new in any industry. Except, for the fact that products and services get put into a new product mix and then revamped under a new name and strategy. But fundamentally the underlying products /services have not really changed.
As a matter of fact, products and services have become very similar as most of them follow a rigorous TQM Process (Total Quality Management).
But please surprise me, and let me know if our organization has really something new on the market. I will immediately invest in it.

So what’s left?
Not much of organizations that keep on selling on USPs in the future.

What now?
If organizations want to survive and be successful a new approach, a value based approach, needs to be implemented. One where the client and the employee is in the heart of the organizational strategy and feels “valued” as a human being. Where client and employee satisfaction is lived and honored on all levels of the organization. So everybody in the organization becomes an ambassador of the organizational values and lives them from the inside out and carries the message in all their thoughts, words and actions to the client, creating a deep trust relationship:

“Dear client, we value you as a human being, who has needs/wants and desires. We are honestly concerned about your well-being dear client. What is it exactly what you need/want and desire to be successful? Lets create a dialog, and maybe we have a product or service that meets your requirements to be successful. And if not, we had at least a chance to learn from each other. Because we dared to engage in a deep conversation, adding to learning and growing as a human being.

Just for today
Walk through our organization and see what people are talking about. USPs of products and services? Or are they talking about the humans’ needs/wants/desires? Where do you stand as a human being in your organization? Do you feel valued? Do you value our client? What are our values? What are the values of our organization? Do they match?

Lets start a dialog together…I am looking forward receiving your thoughts and comments…


Mañana mañana – Andalucian Way of Work

By Martina Willis (Columnist) Olive Press

WHEN I first came to Spain I did what all the ‘nice’ foreigners do. I turned a blind eye to the lack of ‘quality’ work and total disregard for punctuality.

Actually, I was happy if workers turned up at all and simply accepted the ‘Andalucian Way of Work’. Who was I, a newcomer, to try and change the system? However, when I opened The Source Of Wellbeing it became quickly apparent that things needed to function if I wanted to be successful. As foreigners on holidays or a retreat have very little tolerance and patience for the ‘Andalusian Way’, I was faced with a real challenge. What had become ‘good enough’ for me was, for others, way off the scale.

I had to change my way of dealing with staff completely and set expectations and boundaries. Basically I had to apply my project management skills and leadership abilities. At first I was met with blank looks and a ‘what’s wrong with her’ attitude. But then a miracle happened. They changed their ways, almost without exception.

Along the way I realised a couple of things.
There are some people who never learned any different. So there was no way they ever would be able to live up to The Source’s high standards.
Others were just plain lazy and thought they could get away with it. They mostly shaped up or shipped out.
And then another set of people started to enter my life. People who shared my values and attitudes a towards quality and standards.

The moral of the story is the same as always. We can not change others but we can change ourselves. And if we change, the circumstances and people around us will change.

But we need to be very clear to what we want and what our own values and expectations are.
Only then do we become authentic leaders others will follow. Our own behavior, words and actions should reflect this and then others will relate to us on all levels.

What about you? Do you feel stuck with an issue or a person? Do you have clear expectations and values? Or do you say one thing but do another?

• For help with all these issues and more, get in touch by emailing

Understanding the ‘helper syndrome’

Southern Spain is the land of many opportunities, but even more lost people, writes Martina Willis
original article  at:

SINCE I started to appear in the Olive Press a few months ago I have had an incredible amount of people randomly bowling up at my front gates.

Mostly wanting to work with me in one form or another, they promise this and that and, it is fair to say, a lot of them are rather odd.
What I have noticed with this bizarre form of ‘jobseeker’ is that, generally, they do not take care of themselves.

I know you should never judge people by appearances, but it tells me immediately that they suffer a form of the ‘helper syndrome’. This is when somebody elects a ‘helper’ occupation, such as a therapist, counsellor or healer in order to fill in a gap in their lives.
This could be from the classic empty-nest syndrome when a child leaves home or from a complicated work-life situation they left behind in their home country, thinking a life in Spain would be so much easier.
However, what they have not understood is that happiness is a state of being and NOT doing. And as long as they adopt a ‘helper’ occupation in order to fill this gap in their lives, they will never succeed in their occupation.

At The Source Of Wellbeing I am looking for therapists who have found their inner source of wellbeing, exactly that, and radiate this state of being to our clients.
They need to act as role models when guiding our clients to achieve a balanced body, soul and spirit.

Our beauty therapist Jade is one such example and loves and breathes this state of being from the inside out.
When you are in her presence you feel immediately lifted and her heart is reaching out for you.
Tina, our yoga instructor is the same, making you feel at ease and content the second you step into her presence.

However, these types of professionals are sadly few and far between in southern Spain. And I’ve stopped counting how many times I have felt sheer exasperation after interviews.

But it would not be me if I could not see an opportunity in seemingly negative experiences.
To this end, I’m starting a weekly meeting for local women called ‘We First’ next month.

In these sessions, we will share stories of how we learned and found the courage to put ourselves first and how we found our own inner source of wellbeing.
Ultimately it means we can share this experience with our family and friends and, of course, give hope to other women who want to find more fulfilled lives.

We First Meeting: A transformational meeting from Female for Female

Come and join us …

In the “We First” sessions, we will share stories how we learned and found the courage to put ourselves first and how we found our own inner source of wellbeing, happiness and contentment.
Ultimately it means we can share this experience with our family and friends and, of course, give hope to other women who want to find more fulfilled lifes.

Meeting Details: Start  16th of September 2015
Every Wednesday: 20:00 to 21:00
Location: TheSourceOfWellbeing, Finca La Fuente, Coin Spain
Cost: 5 Euros contribution towards coffee and tea
Meeting style: Drop In Meeting

For further Details please contact TheSourceOfWellbeing Phone Spain: +34 951 20 43 06

REVIEW: The Source of Wellbeing retreat

Jon Clarke, editor Olive Press,  visits a brand new retreat in a hidden valley 20 minutes from the coast, where multi-talented owner Martina Willis is weaving her magic on many different levels.

ECHOING to the sounds of running water, croaking frogs and nightingales, it was hard to believe that I was just 10 miles and 20 minutes from the fleshpots of Fuengirola and Marbella.

Following an intensive massage, and with a healthy chickpea tortilla salad and a bottle of gewurztraminer awaiting me on my dining terrace, things rarely get much better.I had been invited to check out the hottest new wellbeing retreat to open on the Costa del Sol; a place where smiles are guaranteed.

Set up by a talented Austrian, whose CV would put many a CEO’s to shame, The Source of Wellbeing is set to become one of the must-visit hideaways this year.Also running as a luxury B&B, this amazing spot, based on the banks of the bubbling Alamino stream, is a genuine oasis of near-tropical vegetation. Well-appointed with spacious rooms, outdoor jacuzzis and hectares of grounds, it is a wonderful place to hole up for a few days, and a great base to explore the nearby Guadalhorce Valley.


Also expect to be spoilt by Martina and her team, which includes a great range of masseurs, chefs and therapists. Based at the heart of one of the true secrets of the Costa del Sol – the Barranco Blanco – there is only one way in and one way out… a dirt track, with one very small sign. But, once located, you drop down into a stunning valley which counts less than a dozen properties and one of the loveliest streams and waterfalls in Andalucia.

The Source of Wellbeing is the brainchild of Swiss-educated Martina Willis, a woman still in her 30s who counts working for Larry Ellison and Bill Gates on her CV. After studying mechanical engineering and marketing, she worked for 19 years in the IT sector, in particular with Oracle in Europe and Microsoft in Seattle, where she became the youngest product manager in the company’s history. But, after the inevitable burn-out, working sometimes 120-hour weeks with her own company, based in the UK, Saudi Arabia and Sweden, she decided to look for a career change.

Out went the private plane and yacht and in came a focus towards self-development and a drive for health and happiness.She moved into life coaching, got a diploma in MindTraining and has started to help focus and train senior executives and corporate teams around Europe. “I have now made it my life goal to equip people to become the driving force to change organisations,” she explains. “Let’s face it, the economy needs to adopt a new business model, away from profit and towards customer and employee satisfaction. “In short: a happy successful employee will generate a happy customer.”

Her new Wellbeing project encourages executives and business owners to learn from her, as well as offering hard-working women, or those who have lost their identity, the chance to escape and enjoy a well-earned pampering break.“When people look at me, they see this petite blonde who’s had a lot of luck to be successful in business and seems to have it all,” she says.“What they don’t see is the incredible hardship I have had to overcome along the way. The physical and emotional abuse I endured in my life from an early age and the obstacles I have had to overcome in my private and business life to be successful.“It has been a hard drive to become happy and I have had to break through detrimental and addictive behaviour patterns to become the assertive and strong person I am today. “Ultimately, I love to help people face the fear they have in their lives and help them achieve their goals without the need for approval of others

Paradise found: My Source Of Wellbeing

In a new, colourful monthly column, for the Olive Press Martina Willis describes her transition from a boardroom boss to the owner of an Andalucian wellness spa

I CAN’T help but see the irony in the new path I have chosen.

The first half of my life was spent surrounded by hard facts and logical thinking, as I navigated my way around giant corporations in the technology sector.
Now my job is to create balanced, happy and healthy minds, bodies and spirits.
Back then, I didn’t give a megabyte about the so-called ‘beautiful’ things in life, as I was doggedly worked my way up to board level.
Beauty products were for the female assistants of my ‘boys’, who worked for me… certainly not for me.
Yes, I needed to look the part when I entered a board room and tried to convince the men around it to part with their money or follow one of my schemes.
But my fashion sense only went as far as a tailored black suit, and a very moderate level of make-up, usually bought at the airport on the way to a meeting.
To be honest, I wouldn’t have recognised the modern-day me, with a new passion for Coco Chanel lipstick and my favourite red Jimmy Choo stilettos.

Now the proud owner of an idyllic wellness retreat, the Source of Wellbeing, hidden in a stunning valley near Marbella… my life has changed 100%.
The old me was driven by the deep psychology of human emotions and the intricacies of business.
I learnt how to lead and coach my employees to success in my many years working in Europe, USA and the Middle East, mostly sleeping little more than four hours a night.

Now, I usually get eight hours a night, get a siesta if I feel like it and take as much time as I want to walk my dogs, work out and hang out with my friends.

Sure, setting up a wellness business here has had plenty of challenges, in the loosest sense of the word.

There are a myriad set of different problems to cope with on a daily basis, but as I remind myself when I get a bit desperate about the ‘Spanish’ way of things: ‘Come on Martina – you’ve dealt with a lot worse.’
And yes, if a water leak the size of the fountain in Lake Geneva is spraying into my courtyard, I can deal with it.
Because, after all, I moved here because of the weather, the lifestyle and the life-loving locals… not the kind of things you usually associate with a boardroom.

Over the next few months I will share my successes and pitfalls in setting up a retreat in – frankly – the middle of nowhere.
I have become an expert in keeping ‘cool’ with all the many challenges one runs into when building a business in Spain and at the same time navigating through the endless jungle of beauty, wellbeing and body treatment therapists.