People are scared. Have you finally figured that out? They want to make sure that their marketplace decisions are "good" ones; that they'll receive "value" for their exchange of precious time and money. So how do you help them do that?
The first step is to think and feel what your audience is feeling. Don’t judge them. Embrace their humanness, their “situations,” and be close enough to them during those precise times when they’re exposed to your types of products and services, evaluating options, receptive to messages, and making decisions, so that you can make informed predictions about how to stimulate their desire, have them care about and relate to you and your offering and, subsequently, make them happy.
Remember, value is in the eyes of the beholder and it changes based upon changing circumstances. Creating and delivering value is about figuring out how to “go deep” into your relationship with customers and their relationship with you, each other, and your brand. It’s about new processes, new relationships, new business models, new ways of thinking, new ways of seeing, and new ways of interacting. It’s an endless game of innovation; of trial and error.
The days of doing a little passive market research with customers, and then using that data to develop and launch products are long gone. Today, you must be immersed in your customers’ changing lives, in their hearts and minds. And once you've immersed yourself, once you "feel" what they feel, you’ve got a simple, three step process to connect with them:
So, why aren't more organizations working like hell to do just that? Why aren't they adding more and deeper levels of value and meaning to their offerings? Simple. Most are lost in their own cultural fantasies and driven by self-interest. They’re in a trance-like state—attending to to-do lists, emails, Twittering, making presentations to analysts, worrying about paying for mortgages and private schools, hard selling customers, tweaking the numbers, and so forth. They’re crawling all over the railroad tracks, looking for loose change and they don’t see the train coming.
Others know that they need to change, but are simply whistling past the graveyard—preserving their status, and quashing healthy dialogue and the inevitable conflict and additional work that comes along with it. That’s why this is so difficult to get across. It’s not because it’s intellectually complicated. It’s not. It’s because it’s unfamiliar and challenging. Business people can’t envision the happy now and happy later consequence of changing their own behavior. So, they resist change and let someone else deal with it.
Look, there are two types of change: change within a system of beliefs that stay the same, and change in your system of beliefs; e.g., your assumptions about the marketplace, your customers, and your role in their lives. If you want to change, you have to change twice. Yes, you must change the reality of the situation. But you must also change how you view that reality.
The business world is teeming with companies engaged in the first type of change. They continue to erode profitability and morale by changing within their old, ineffectual system of beliefs. A system of beliefs perpetuated, by the way, by many well-intentioned people and some not so well intentioned.
So, you can either change within your system of beliefs; e.g., change logos, ad agencies, copy for direct mail and email, offer discounts, etc. Or you can change your beliefs and then change within that new system of beliefs. Either way, you will eventually change your system of beliefs. It may simply take longer than necessary, cost more, and take a toll on your sense of humor and passion.
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