Wednesday, August 31, 2011

¿And you? Which side are you on?

¿And you? Which side are you on?
Probably your natural answer would be: On my company’s side! And with all reason.

You have invested so much money, efforts and time in bringing your company to life. You are so familiar with your product, know it from A to Z, and you know your product is a good one, because you are an honest business owner. You have teamed up with highly qualified professionals, have designed an efficient distribution network, your pricing policy is competitive because you know what your competitors do and offer, you know your product is doing good because sales are moving good as well, you take care of making your business’ operation profitable because, at the end of the day, it’s about making money!

And that’s all good. As a matter of fact, if you weren’t so closely involved with your company, things wouldn’t be going that good. Would they?

But now, just think for a second what’s inside your customer’s mind. Put yourself in their pants for five minutes. What kind of information could you find?

If you take your customer’s seat for a moment, you can discover very interesting things, for instance, why does he buy from you and not from your competitors, if he thinks your product is really good or just cheaper than others, if last time he bought from you, he wasn’t properly serviced by your representative, if he is pleased enough with your product as to recommend it to others, and much more.

Can you see the difference? I bet you do. If we take it from the fact your company survives because there are customers out there paying for your products or services, then we can come to the conclusion it’s more relevant, strategically talking, to be on your customer’s side for a while than in your company’s side. Why? Because on your customer’s side is where the money is, not because of other thing.

If you just keep thinking it’s all about you and only you, well, maybe your customer is simply going to say: No! It’s about me, my satisfaction, and benefit and, in a market so highly saturated with products I can choose from, I can buy from somebody else. And that’s it. And maybe you will never know what happened!

The important thing to understand is the market has changed, and if you keep your product oriented position, for sure you’re going to end up facing difficult challenges, because the market is simply different.

What’s the difference? That now people have a strong capacity to get connected with others, friends, acquaintances, coworkers, family and, thanks to the Internet, they can do it at no cost. Additionally, there is a lot of information available on the Web for everybody, to help them make purchasing decisions. You have forums, discussion groups, and social networks, tools to compare prices and recommend products, many things.

This ability to “get connected” means everybody can share experiences and talk about anything, whether it’s a product they are buying, a trip, a hotel, a place they visited, an accident, anything.

Have you ever arrived to your office, on Monday morning, mentioning to a co-worker that you did have a wonderful time during the weekend on a little cabin on a mountain park, and recommending him to go with his couple? Well, on the Internet, and especially on social networks, it happens the same way. An email you send, some pictures uploaded on Facebook, a video on Youtube, thousand different ways!

So, what do you have to do then? Keep your position and say “We’re the company with the best product you will ever buy”?

Unfortunately, that’s not going to work, because if you stick to the same old thing, you’re going to fail. What if your competitors are already focusing on their customers and finding out, for them, new opportunities to grow their business? Whoever is first to find out what to do, and does it the right way, will be the winner, not only making new customers but also developing long term relationships.

It’s about giving up on the “I’m the company, you’re the customer”, egotistical and blind set of mind, only taking into consideration your efforts and going out there, to the streets. Go out to see what’s happening in the world around you, your industry, and your customer, to learn what people say about you, your company and its products, not only on social networks but everywhere, even in your own backyard.

Only listening to what’s going on out there, you will be able to plan your strategies much better. Only taking your customer’s place for a while, you will be prepared. Think of it as going into war with some other country. You’ve designed the ultimate weapon, unbeatable, capable of targeting a mouse in the Moon’s surface… wow, fantastic! You are so deeply sold on the idea you’re the best that you haven’t found out your opponent, six months before, did already design a special counter-attack weapon that beats yours, and at a lower cost! How would it make you fell?

It’s not about you anymore, but about what happens around you, on your customer’s side. Effectively and carefully listening to what happens on their side, will allow you to fine tune your marketing and merchandising strategies, and what’s better, you could end up saving money by cutting down on things you don’t really need.

Sit on your customer’s side for a while; try to look at your company and product from their point of view. You will sure learn positive and interesting things.

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