Monday, January 26, 2015
WHAT ARE YOUR MARKETING, AND YOU, ABOUT?
We’d like to pose two important questions to help determine what your marketing, and you, are about.
The first question is "Who do you work for?"
So, how do you answer this question? Do you respond with your company's name? “I work for Johnson & Johnson,” “L’Oreal,” “Amgen,” whatever or whomever is your employer. If you do then you probably work for a paycheck. Do you respond that it's for your family? If you respond in either of these two ways then it is likely that you work for your own “self-interest.” Both of these address needs of survival or economic quality of life, which are certainly understandable, well, to a point.
The second question is "Why do you do what you do?" Is it to be able to buy nice things? Do cool things? Support your lifestyle? Care for your family? Work to live? If so, you might be considered “self-directed.” There's nothing wrong with that. There’s no need to be defensive. This is not a value judgment. It's merely an observation.
These aforementioned points address the income, survival and/or profit need. After all, we learn in business school that the purpose of a business is to earn a profit. Today it is more like increasing shareholder value – in the immediate term! Or, it’s to build for your retirement, that time when you plan to do all those things that you put off today because you are too busy earning an income and increasing shareholder value. But is that all that there is? Is that why we go to work each day? There must be more to life than this.
As executive coach and author Simon Sinek points out, and we should all recognize, "profit is a result.” It’s the result of something larger, something more meaningful. I'd say that something larger, and many of you will agree, is serving others. Customers are the “others." And while we may target customers, ultimately they choose us. They determine if our products, services and brands are worthy of their attention, time and resources. So we must serve them faithfully, with integrity, if we are to earn their loyalty and profit from the relationship in a way that’s mutually beneficial.
Keep in mind that those people we designate as “target-customers” are not out there to provide for us, nor our organizations. Their purpose in life is not to fill our coffers and grow our businesses. Instead, we brand marketers are, or should be, here for them. And, if we want to win them over and make them loyal then we need to serve them in a way that is relevant and better than our competitors, or in a way that is relevant and meaningfully different. They need to come first in our thoughts and all our actions. We need to serve our customers as we would like to be served.
Chefs will criticize a dish that has been thrown together on a plate as being made without love. We’ve all been there at one time or, perhaps, many times. There was no special care for the ingredients, the preparation, the diners or their experience. The food wasn’t hot when served, the presentation was unappetizing, it was over/undercooked, there was so much salt or msg added that the next morning your scale recorded an additional few pounds due to water retention, which was confirmed by the fact that your eyes were so swollen you could barely read your weight from the scale beneath your feet. We make it a point not to return to places like this.
To really please diners a dish needs to be made with love. This isn’t something you can fake or turn on. It has to come from the deep desire and commitment to serve, and love for what you are doing. Likewise we should approach our customers from the heart. We need to have and tap into our genuine feelings for serving and connecting them with our brand. This feeling needs to come out of a sense of purpose, our sense of purpose. It's “why” we do what we do! Or should do.
Who do you work for and why do you do what you do are two important questions for each of us to address. Give it some thought. It could have an impact on: the relationship, the bond you build with customers; the ultimate health of your brand, resultant profits and, importantly, your life and legacy. By the way, it’s never too early to think of the legacy you want to leave so you may begin to live and build it now, with a sense of purpose, customer by customer.
BOATS & HELICOPTERS:
1. Identify your purpose – Think about why you do what you do, or want to do. Get beyond the income and profit need. It’s at the bottom level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. As such its pull will diminish as your income and profits grow. And, you will be rewarded with profits and higher income, as they are the “result,” or are a by-product, when customers connect with your purpose and are pleased with the way you serve them. Going beyond the money, what motivates you?
2. Know your target customer – Big data is becoming a focus for many companies. It identifies “what” customers are buying (and when, where and how, among other facts). But more important than the “what” is the “why” of customer behavior. It is essential for the discovery of customer insights, leading to ways to better satisfy customers and drive preference. You won’t learn the “why” unless you get out of the ivory tower and mix with customers. Be curious. Ask questions. Develop hypotheses. Share concepts and prototypes. Then verify.
3. Be empathetic – Get at the feelings of your prospective customers. Feel what they feel. It will also help lead you to insights. At the very least, it should serve to sharpen your desire and ability to serve in a way that will better satisfy your customers. Entrepreneurs are typically empathetic. They feel, as customers themselves, that something is missing or could be done better in their world and they address their feelings. Also, when we are empathetic our solutions tend to be emotive, connecting on an emotional level with customers.
4. Think “experience” – As we’ve written many times in DISPATCHES, get beyond the product you sell and think about the experience you deliver. Products are commodities and will soon be forgotten. Can you say “Blackberry?” Give your customers a “WOW” experience and they’ll come back for more. What’s more, they’ll tell family and friends about their experience. In a way they’ll become evangelists for your brand.
5. Invest in your customers – It seems that today, despite revenues in the billions of dollars, many companies are trying to do things on the cheap and short changing their customers. What do we mean? They’re slashing their marketing budget (and in some cases going “dark”), cutting R&D investment and activities, rationalizing products and services, among other cost cutting measures. They’re putting short-term profit and shareholder value above preserving and satisfying their customers. This risks whatever franchise has been built as customers become estranged from those brands. Customers soon forget about those brands, succumb to the lure of more worthy competitors and gravitate to those companies and brands that show they care by being present in their lives. They demonstrate in deed that they want their customers’ business. In order to preserve precious customers (and it is far more costly to get new customers than keep the ones you have) we should consider a question that while not voiced is at the back of their minds and is integral to their behavior, “What are you doing for me today?”
6. Verify – Don’t just “do” blindly. Verify! Dialogue with customers before launching marketing initiatives. And, inspect against your expectations to determine if you marketing is working where it really counts – in the marketplace with customers. If it isn’t working learn why and then adapt or drop it.
Above all, remember customers are people first! Commit to serve them from the heart. Your purpose is the heart of your service as the Brand Idea is the purpose of your brand and the heart of its positioning.
Richard Czerniawski and Mike Maloney
© 2003 Brand Development Network (BDN) International. All rights reserved.