29 November 2006

Good Vision

They say that hindsight is 20/20. But not all people have the same keen vision, and many I dare say, need corrective lenses... even well after the fact. What really impresses me though are the ones that seem to be able to see into the future, have a pulse on things and really understand the continuous wave of change that is happening around them and their industry. I’m talking about the ones that are far-sighted, near-sighted, pragmatic and welcome real change.

The ability to see what’s coming is a gift. The ability to continually adapt, prepare for and react to change is necessary. The link between these two is what can define success. Let me explain.

Seeing the future is easy… if you understand your customer. Keeping tabs on your customer, and not the traditional marketing textbook version of understanding your customers buying habits and demographics, but really understanding the needs of your customer. Knowing why they’re buying what they buy is much more interesting to me than what they’re buying.

Understanding your customers’ needs and wants helps you to create product and services that are ‘customized’ for that specific customer which creates trust and brand loyalty (er, I mean repeat business). Man, I hate that catch-phrase – brand loyalty… customers are not loyal because of the brand, they are customers because the brand is loyal to them – in short, the brand delivers exactly what it promises, each and every time. So when I use the term brand loyalty, what I mean is what I say above… I just don’t have a fancy acronym for it yet.

Keeping loyal to your customers is all about meeting and/or exceeding their expectations.

So, who sets these expectations? You do. In your marketing, in the image that is put forth by you, your staff, your web site, your existing customers and by everyone that has ever known you and/or your company. When you advertise, you are doing more than just promoting your product or service, the images, text and feel set expectations with consumers. It’s simple, really - someone smiling in a cell phone ad sets an expectation that your service will be trouble free and enjoyable. The way that your phone is answered sets an expectation of what the remainder of the call will be like and even what the company will be like to deal with. Think of some other examples, I’ll give you a few minutes….

When it comes right down to it, think of continually making a first impression. Every impression is making a promise. Business owners that are aware of this fact, are the ones that appear to have that near-perfect vision and generally have a service culture that starts right from the top. Companies with this type of leadership and guidance are not overly common, but you know who they are as soon as you talk to any one of their employees. It’s evident.

Providing a steady stream of new products or services that your customers eagerly gobble up may sometimes be mistaken for seeing the future. But it’s really in the hindsight, understanding your customers allows you to innovate and bring new products to market that seem as though they were designed specifically for them… because they were.


Anonymous Fegof said...

Oh, were it so simple. The marketing landscape is littered with inane & disastrous brand and/or category extensions belived to be needed & desired customers.

There's very good reasons why your kids don't enjoy a glass of Dad's Root Beer flavoured milk along with their Campbell's frozen Soup n' Sandwich.

11/30/2006 10:27:00 AM  
Blogger Kevin Franco said...

Hey - I didn't bring common sense into the equation... I figured it was a given, but good point. Greed and stupidity often win out over true product innovation and marketing genius.

11/30/2006 09:01:00 PM  

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