Friday, March 15, 2013

Customers First is the Correct Business Model

Seth Godin says: "First figure out who you'd like to do business with, then go make something just for them. The more specific the better."

Too many times, a business finds or develops a product, then tries to find a market for it.

Too often, someone starts a business because they lost a job, don't want to work for a boss anymore, and have a passion about something. Plus, they want to make a lot of money. More money than they'd ever make working for someone else.

That's just about the worst scenario you could possibly imagine, but it's extremely common.

So the person starts a business, happy to be free from slaving away for a manager. The business is based on hostility toward bosses, desire to get rich quick, and enthusiasm for a service or product line.

See what's wrong with that? The product comes first. The customer is secondary. What should happen is you discover a need that customers have and then go find or make something that meets that need.

The first thing I would ask a new business is "What is the unmet need that you fulfill?"

If they start yakking about "great product at a fair price", I know they're going to fail. Anybody can say that. That's not how you differentiate your company from competitors. If you can't say something totally unique, that none of your competitors can say, you're doomed.

And that unique statement needs to be customer-centric, not company-centric.

What is the unmet need? How are you going to fulfill it? What makes your fulfilling of that unmet customer need a compelling proposition? Why should anybody care what your company does? What makes it so special, in terms of value to customers?

Look for an opportunity to provide benefit. Then develop a deep expertise on how to solve a certain set of problems. Solve those problems better, faster, smarter, more economically, more creatively, with greater skill and finesse than what the competition is doing.

Keep the customer and her problem in mind at all times.

Not your product. Not your company. Not your vision. Not your dreams. Not your ambition. Not your brand. Not your staff. Not your credentials.

Focus on the ever-changing landscape of customer needs, aggravations, disappointments, frustrations, desires, hopes, and dreams. Know what people want right now -- and what they're going to want 5 to 10 years from now.

Product First, Customer Secondary is the road to ruin.

Product First, Customer Secondary is seen in most stores and websites.

As I often say, it's "we, we, we -- all the way home."

Our great blah blah blah. We this and we that. 

Rarely are the words "you" and "your" used. Look at us. Trust us. Check us out on Facebook. Sign up for our newsletter. Visit our store. Buy our junk. Tell your friends about us. We. Us.

Instead of a company telling you what you can achieve, you're told how great the company is. Instead of being told about benefits of a product, you're told how great the product is. It's made of this and that, it looks so nice, it is supported by a great team of smart people.

But you? Who cares about you? You're just a wallet that opens up.

Let the customer guide every aspect of your product and business operation. Do everything in terms of what they want and like. Use their words to describe your products and the problems they solve. Use their testimonials in your advertising.

Interact with customers on social media. Don't just grind out sales hype and company news like most of the morons who think they're doing "social media marketing." Get back to the Core Values of Social Media -- Sharing and Caring.

If you put the customers first, they'll know it. It will make them feel good. Your sales and service and customer relations will induce a real euphoria in the customers, just as intense as a drug high or a stiff drink of booze.

They'll be anxious to do business with you again.

Not just for your great products, but for that good feeling they get when you treat them with dignity, kindness, understanding, patience, and true compassion. 

They'll leave the encounter with a glow, a radiance, a joy that drives them back to you again and again...and makes them tell everybody they know about their experience with you.

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