Yesterday I was enjoying an early morning cup of a nice smoky dark roasted coffee as I walked around helping my wife and two young children get all their gear and other sundry items ready to pile into the car. This was no ordinary Saturday morning by any means. As I helped them get things in order I found myself drifting in thought of the last three plus years and all they have been through. All the “blood, sweat and yes, tears” they have shed in a journey that reached its first major apex late last evening.
Three years ago my beautiful wife came to me and told me that she and the children had enrolled in Taekwondo lessons. I looked down at my then smallish 5 year old daughter and wondered what effects this would have on her. They were all full of passion (not hard for the then 7 year old boy as the prospect of kicking, punching and breaking things was the recipe for earth bound heaven). But as an accomplished practitioner of early life sports ADD……I just wondered.
In an endeavor such as this was my wife conscious of the commitment, discipline, attention to detail required and future ramifications of their actions? Here were 3 souls joining hands together on a new path that would change all our lives and I had subtle concerns. For instance, what would happen if one or more quit midstream and what would it mean to the others? What would it do to my 5 year old daughter knowing she was not able to be strong enough to see it through, what would it do to my über boy if he was the one to quit and watch his mother and little sister succeed etc………………………………..
Much like their decision to jump into the proverbial swimming pool with the hope of swimming, all of us that are tasked with increasing market share for our companies are facing new challenges that we could have never anticipated. The world of business and marketing has changed forever and it did not change in a small way…..this is a full blown seismic shift! What are the ramifications for diving into the uncertain waters of modern marketing? Will we have the fortitude and endurance to continue on through tough days etc and what are the ramifications for staying out of the water altogether?
You can no longer make business decisions purely from a revenue point of view; of course this is still important but those of us in the pool swimming in varying degrees now understand that there are new considerations that have to be just as important as or more so than financials.
Do you understand the impact of an inadequate IT infrastructure? Do you understand the role of customer emotions and how these are affected by your decisions? With the competition also considering these factors and coming after you ever more vigorously, attracting new customers gets more complex and more costly. How are many companies reacting to this?….by cutting costs! The blinders that are imposed by chasing the next quarter’s financial report are obscuring the fact that a business could be making its numbers but at what future cost and how long can it be sustained?
The most crucial elements of the success of any enterprise are its hard fought for and won existing CUSTOMERS! This should be the ONLY thought of any CEO as he goes to sleep every night. Even Henry Ford early in his career had it right…”you take care of your customers and revenue will come” yet many businesses have this completely backwards.
Companies spend fortunes in their sales departments trying to capture new business and yet will cut the budget on Customer support!!! How does this make any sense at all? The customers that are already paying your bills should be the most important person in the company (helps to view them as such). They are YOURS! You should not only do EVERYTHING you can to keep them but keep them deliriously happy and then THEY in this new paradigm will become the new sales team! Just ask Apple how cool it is to have an evangelical sales force that numbers in the millions!
Look, marketing in this day really has become the realm of understanding and managing the “butterfly effect”. One solitary yet influential voice says the wrong thing about your company or products and you have a SERIOUS problem on your hands. Yet if Lady Gaga with her almost 25 MILLION followers says she loves shoes made by “Foo” guess what happens to Foo’s sales?
Marketing professionals no longer just need a business background, they need to know technology, have serious computer skills, be able to visualize extremely complex hierarchical network structures, be extremely creative and yes even be part time sociologists. This is not the time to be cutting costs on marketing or supporting your existing customer base….consider your long term position, develop a plan, implement it, measure it and most of all STICK TO IT!!
SO, last night my wife and life partner and our two young children now 3 years older and much taller tested for their black belts in Taekwondo culminating the vision that they had years ago and passed!!! Who could have imagined back then that one of the ramifications of their bold decision would be having to watch a grown man cry with pride?…….go figure!
In part 3 we start identifying the scope of the challenge…stay tuned!