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Customers are the lifeblood of a business. You’re delivering value to someone, and in return they pay you for that value.

So why do so many companies make it hard for an interested person to connect? It’s almost as if they don’t really want the business.

Sure, customers can be a pain sometimes. They … want stuff. They’d rather have it their way than the way you currently do it. But I assume you’d rather have customers than not. Right?

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I heard an interesting article on the Innovation Hub radio show recently, talking about how riskiness affects people’s decisions. It got me thinking, because I’ve wondered for many years about the connection.

When we’re working on connecting our products and marketing to the customer need, we often start with their needs and desires. The customer desires a phone which is functional and attractive, with long battery life and easy-to-use apps.

That’s fine as far as it goes, but it’s a pretty surface-level way of thinking.

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RECENTLY I WAS TALKING with a colleague this week at a Conscious Capitalism meeting. We were exploring why customers should even care about the character of your business.

It’s a great question, and an area which is shifting.

Customers look for the best deal, right? So they’re not going to let you get away with even two percent higher prices just because you think you’re the “good guy” in the industry. But there are many, many counter-examples.

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YOU’RE DEDICATED TO YOUR CAUSE of making the world a better place to live. So much, in fact, that you’ve built it into your business model. You have favored charities. You actively promote certain causes.

So now it comes your marketing, and you get stalled.

It feels like you’re bragging. Are you?

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AS I WAS DRIVING DOWN THE STREET YESTERDAY, I saw a business proudly displaying a sign out front:

“We care about our customers and what’s best for them”

This kind of thing just drives me crazy. Seriously, somebody thought this would be an effective marketing strategy?

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HOW OBVIOUS is your company’s mission?

Is it so compelling that customers can tell you what it is, in their own words?

Is it so clear that your employees are thinking about it in some way every day?

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THERE’S A LOT OF FAKENESS in the world.

I would imagine that it’s always been this way, I suppose, but now it’s so much more obvious when people aren’t showing their company authentically in the world.

And consumers are getting really quite sophisticated in detecting fake messages.

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YOU’D LIKE FOR THE WORLD to be a safe place. After all, you’ve put your heart and soul into your business, and it would be terrible to have it fall apart.

So you try to play it safe.

But there are different kinds of safety. You could run close to the edge on being legal – but if you step over that edge, the regulators will shut you down.  Permanently.

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BrandYOUR BRAND ISN’T WHAT YOU SAY IT IS.

It’s defined by what others think about you.

Isn’t that frustrating?  Here you’re spending all this effort and money to create a strong brand image.  Does it matter at all?

Yes, but not the way you’d like it to.

Your work at developing your identity and reputation is about how you want your organization to behave.  You see, every touchpoint makes up what the market thinks about you. Read the rest of this entry »

On a missionLATELY I’VE BEEN WORKING with an increasing number of business owners who are out to change the world — in great ways!

For instance, I spoke with the head of a local medical clinic who is tackling the rapidly escalating costs head-on. They’re using a different model that relies much less on insurance companies, helping to give patients the tools they need to keep themselves healthy.

I can point to the rapid growth in what had been called “alternative medicine” but in fact is now quite mainstream. Chiropractors, acupuncturists, herbalists and naturopaths abound.

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