“The fastest way to go bankrupt is to do what your customers say”. customer centric v2
This was the advice given to me by one of my first managers when I first became a research consultant. At face value this was odd advice to give. After all wasn’t our job to listen to what customers wanted and to report their feedback? This advice was not dissimilar to the often repeated but rarely verified quote from Henry Ford, that if you asked a person what they wanted they would tell you that they want a faster horse and not a car. Apart from no evidence he ever said this, or something similar, this quote is often trotted out as self-evident proof on the importance of not using research. This is the wrong interpretation.

To achieve the best outcomes, create innovative product, or design campaigns that drive growth you need to understand the market. This is what my manager and mentor explained to me was our real purpose. Only by understanding the market can we shape demand. The other key point is that it is not just customers that drive success. The market is made up of customers, buyers, shoppers, consumers, gate keepers, influencers and intermediaries that determine success. Rather than simply listen, instead a business needs to understand three key issues and their consequences.

  • What are the benefits the market is trying to gain through the use of your product?
  • What attributes do they use to infer how likely your product will achieve their goals when choosing for the first time or when evaluating?
  • What roles do the players in your market that make a difference?

Debating who is at the centre of the business is as much a political statement as it is a guiding principle on what strategies dominate a business, leading to a constant unresolvable clashes within the business. Consumers, shoppers, shareholders, and employees all have strong claims to precedence.  As do placing innovation or productivity at the centre.

At Eris Strategy we place long term sales growth at the centre of your business. It is our role to help clients understand their markets in a way that helps them achieve long term growth. Depending on your industry sales may by another key metric as student numbers, reducing incidence of a disease or getting votes. Instead of telling you what your customers are saying, or even paraphrasing it to make it sound insightful, we focus on understanding the underpinning factors that shape demand and helping our clients leverage that knowledge.

Who or what do you place at the centre of your business?