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How Are You Putting The Customer At The Centre?

filed in Brand Strategy, Marketing

At every strategy meeting, in every company boardroom and entrepreneurial hub around the globe, you will hear some version of the requirement to ‘put the customer at the centre’ in everything we do. These words are easy to preach from on high and harder (but not impossible), to implement at a grassroots level. The key to the success of any strategy is getting the people closest to the customer to feel they have ownership of what’s been planned. We can only put the customer at the centre when we create a culture where everyone feels their voice is heard and their work matters.

The bigger questions for all of us are:

1. How can we embed listening to the customer into our culture?

2. How can we empower everyone in the organisation to care and be curious about the customer?

3. How can we make our teams feel like their ideas and input matter?

Successful strategies might be dreamt up in corner offices, but they are implemented in ordinary moments from cubicles, counters and checkouts.

Image by Jim Coyle

You Don’t Need To Compete When You Know Who You Are

filed in Brand Strategy, Marketing, Success

Before globalisation, marketing, hair straighteners and the bullworker, our tribal ancestors and village businesses stood out by excelling at their craft. They became known for doing the thing other people in the village couldn’t or wouldn’t do. They were beloved for the way they went about their work. Not much has changed about how loyalty is earned, and a brand is built—except for our ideas about how to get noticed and gain traction. Now we look for the magic formula. We try to stand out by doing a little of what everyone else is doing.

The irony is, the people we admire and the brands we aspire to emulate, gain our respect because they are original. Mimicry is futile. You stand out by understanding what makes you unique—not what gets you noticed. Taking a stand that only you can take is underrated.

You don’t need to compete when you know who you are.

Image by Scooter Loweriemore

Choose Delight Over Satisfaction

filed in Brand Strategy, Marketing

When a flight is delayed why are the passengers who quietly accept their fate and meal vouchers never the ones who get priority on the next available flight? Our instinct is to acknowledge and take care of the customer who complains the loudest. We work hardest to get the dissatisfied, those unlikely to become raving fans, to the point of satisfaction. This strategy leaves fewer resources to delight our satisfied customers. It’s easy to take the contented regular for granted.

It’s hard to ignore the noisy bell. But focusing on the people who don’t feel they have a voice is the most important work we can do. Who are you taking for granted and how can you make them happier?

Image by Scott Ableman

The Rise Of The Interested

filed in Brand Strategy, Marketing, Success

It doesn’t seem that long ago since a customer would get personal service at a drapery shop even if she was only buying four buttons for the baby cardigan she’d made. A real conversation ensued and colours were carefully matched. By the time money changed hands the assistant knew who the cardigan was for, when the baby was due and how many grandchildren the customer had. In the past, most companies gathered information because they were interested in helping, so they could serve us better. Now we immediately ask for the customer’s email address, we collect data, not out of interest, but often just to leverage it. We’ve allowed efficiency to suck the joy from our work.

Our obsession with optimisation and squeezing the most out of every interaction has led us down the path of knowing the facts, without caring about the stories and the people behind them. I think we’re beginning to realise our mistake. We’re often surprised by what we learn when we express a genuine interest in people. No work was ever worsened because it was carried out with empathy.

Image by Andrew

More And Less

filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy, Marketing

We sometimes trick ourselves into believing we can have the best of both worlds. A foot in both camps. Full belly and cake on the plate. Working towards a goal means abandoning an alternative worldview. Brands like Mecca Cosmetica, Lululemon and Blue Bottle Coffee thrive because they are crystal clear about their identity. Like them, we have to choose what we will be more of and less of to create a successful business.

More about service, less about volume.
Less about scale, more about significance.
More about affinity, less about awareness.
Less about tomorrow’s results, more about lasting impact.
More about the right customers, less about the most customers.
Less about reach, more about resonance.
More about the long game, less about near-term gains.
Less about competing, more about mattering.

Being all things to everyone is never a sustainable option. The good news is you decide what stance to take.

Image by Sonny Abesamis

Unlock the magic in your story now.

Get the free 20 Questions to ask before launching your Idea Workbook when you sign up for updates.