July 5th, 2015
There are two kinds of companies: those focused on products, those focused on customers. You know which when you deal with them.
One company cannot assume both orientations: they’re mutually exclusive. Question: Into which category does your company fit?
The customer-oriented firm changes products frequently to buttress its consistent brand, its value proposition. Alternatively, the product-oriented corporation, like IBM, constantly alters its identity and messaging to match every new SKU and wave of technology.
Guess which orientation begets happier customers and higher profits?
Woven Into a Company’s Fabric
The hit TV sitcom Cheers was about a bar in Boston “where everyone knows your name.” That was its brand. The popular establishment’s neverending lure was experience. It was a customer-focused experience-generator.
Product-focused firms tend to view customer experience as an afterthought to be sprayed on like a coat of paint: they typically build costly, ineffective customer-service departments to mollify angry patrons. Makes zero sense. These brand-killing businesses abound.
Newsflash: real customer orientation is woven into a company’s fabric at inception.
The brand of a typical high-end beauty spa is: “Feel Beautiful, Young, Confident.” Why? It’s the value, the experience customers really want. The tagline is phrased in 100% customer language, with NO mention of product, technology, or jargon. Branding at its finest.
Moreover, it’s common for a client to visit her beautician for hair or skin treatment, to be told that she’s getting “the latest, greatest” product — only to return three weeks later to find that so-called great product replaced with a better one. Yet, the brand stays the same.
Wait, what? The brand stays the same, but the product rotates out?
That’s right: A product fulfills the brand’s value proposition — not the other way around. Never forget this axiom.
Parting Advice to CEOs
Generating experiences requires a strong brand, and vice versa: a concept foreign to many CEOs and boards of directors, especially in the product-centric tech sector. Become intimate with this concept, and make it part of your company’s culture. Brand like a beauty spa.
When building or rebuilding a company, make it an experience-generator — not a product-generator. Products come and go: they’re a means to an end; that end is experience.
Finally, what experience do you want your customers to have? Whatever that is, it’s what they’re having right now. Would you pay for that experience?
About the Author
Marc Rudov is a branding advisor to CEOs,
producer of MarcRudovTV, and author of the book,
Be Unique or Be Ignored: The CEO’s Guide to Branding.
© 2015 Marc H. Rudov. All Rights Reserved.