Monday, February 14, 2011

Customers first

There's certainly no shortage of products and services in the world. But there's absolutely a dire shortage of customers.

Despite the deep and painful recessions that have hit most world economies since 2007, many business leaders continue to demand annual growth rates of 3% or 5% or more. That can't be sustained unless the overall economy is growing. The inevitable result is over capacity, squeezed margins and lower prices. And many companies failing.

The best way to thrive in these conditions is by a return to what marketing should be: an approach that begins by listening to what potential customers need, then figuring out how to provide it at a profit.

But that's not enough to differentiate from others. If you don't want to be forced to compete solely on price then focus on quality, service and value. I'm advocating an approach where customers feel that they're placed at the top of your priority list. When that happens, satisfaction rises, word spreads and buzz is generated automatically.

Hopping on the social media bandwagon won't work in the way you want it to unless you get these fundamentals right first. If your business delivers a lousy experience, social media just helps your customers warn away others more quickly!