Making tough decisions in the dark will absolutely drive your business off the cliff.
The Crawling Dead
To date, we’ve had a barrage of technological advances with heavily funded startups blooming and withering away in an instant. Fantastic ideas spring every moment, but only a few live past the three year mark. It doesn’t come as a surprise, despite the many reasons why they do fail, as it often seems to be due to not having enough information that is critical to decision making. Though anecdotal, I have personally seen clients that have gone beyond the point of rational decision making by being absolutely sold to their inflated sense of value perception of their own ideas, products and services. Most of these businesses are convinced without a shadow of a doubt that customers will love their services and products, a novelty somehow given by errant grace. Microsoft made this very mistake in the early 2000s. The idea of a tablet PC is definitely revolutionary, but by having no ear on the ground, it effectively gave its ideas away to a company that could execute, market and sell it better. Yes, I’m talking about the Apple’s iPad. It seems that the only other way companies force their services and products on their customers and ‘succeed’, is by ruling with an iron fist of monopoly. Despite all the mind boggling technology of 2016, we are still forced to submit to ‘mobile plans’ that are archaic in the modern perspective of communication, an industry that is one major disruption away from collapsing. Case in point, Whatsapp was able to show that ‘Gods’ bleed too. These ignorant (and maybe arrogant) zombie businesses that we see dominating today may lose out altogether because a new entrant is more empathetic of consumer needs, and wiser in the use of modern technology. Let’s not forget, to be empathetic, you need to understand the people you are trying to serve.
Empathy Diminishes Ignorance
There are millions and millions of ways to make money, from bottled water to selling miracle cures for cancer. We have always had that one friend that we’ve not met in years contacting us for a business opportunity only to realise it is a form of MLM scheme riding on the backs of questionable products. So what should businesses do, now that it is a free game for all to brainwash and lie to sell? The answer is simple and obvious to most, but executable only by some. The idea is to serve customers by understanding them, and use unethical businesses as an example to deposition them with your competitive positioning statement. In today’s world of heightened social awareness, we as consumers are more informed of malpractices, going as far as to systematically name-shame many big brands that do not agree to our current ethical landscape. This influences consumers’ choice. Consumers are now making the shift to stop buying from businesses that they believe are unethical. This is an opportunity for commerce to mature and birth interesting, sustainable and innovative approaches that could revolutionise the way we live our lives. There is a now far more long term business benefit to a brand that serves, than a brand that sells. Such an opportunity could only be identified by knowing the marketplace and understanding cultural trends among others.
Paradigm shifts stemming from being informed
There are many alternatives, ideas, suggestions and feedbacks that we gather when we listen to our customers, and often they are misinterpreted and shrugged off as tedious to implement. In my previous article, I mentioned it’s essential to address what we are looking for through listening. It is by understanding consumers that Tesla, saw the need to appeal to outliers to eventual reach their intended audience because of their sentiments. A perception otherwise non-existent was now possible for an ambitious company looking to solve the energy problem that’s been plaguing the 21st century. Being informed starts with accepting that our initial assumptions are probably wrong. The success of every product and service, from the way they are priced to the way they are marketed, largely depends on the consumers themselves. As we always say;
Build a Brand, and your legacy will follow. © The Action Plan
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