In case you haven’t noticed it, today’s consumer has become much pickier than times past. Where companies used to be able to produce products and put them on the market, expecting customers to buy them, today’s consumer is much more discerning. With the global marketplace, consumers are presented with many more choices, allowing them to select products that meet their needs and their style.
This requires companies to be much more sensitive and responsive to the marketplace. The customer has become part of the design team, telling companies what they want in no uncertain terms. What that means is that the company who does the best job of listening to their consumer needs and wants is often the one who sells the most products.
Finding consumers is easy; finding consumers that will tell you what they want is another thing all together. At least, having them tell you what they want in a manner that makes sense, so that it can be turned into products and services. That requires finding a way that consumers are comfortable providing feedback and are willing to take the time to do so.
The Olde Company had been around for years. They’d been doing the same old thing in the same old way, as long as anyone could remember. Unfortunately, they weren’t getting the same old results. Whereas the old results made them profitable, the new results were barely keeping the doors open. That’s probably because the Olde Company’s old management hadn’t changed much either; at least not until the head of marketing had to retire for medical reasons.
The new head of marketing was so young that the rest of management tended to call him “sonny.” He didn’t let that bother him though. He saw that the company needed some new blood, and since he was the only manager younger than 60 years old, he figured that he was the only one who could do it.
If the Olde Company was ever going to become successful again, they had to find out what the customers wanted, so that they could produce products that would sell better than their competition. The old way had been to spy on the competition, seeing what they had and what ideas could be copied. That wasn’t going to be good enough though, so the new marketing manager decided he had to get out and meet the customers, finding out what they wanted.
He implemented a number of strategies to get feedback from customers; including feedback forms on the company website, creating focus groups, customer surveys and even personal visits to their major clients.
Of course, engineering screamed when “the new kid on the block” went to them with a whole new set of specifications, changing their old products. It was a bit of a battle, but eventually he won out and engineering went to work. That was the beginning of a turn-around for the Olde Company. Their new and improved products hit the market with a splash, immediately taking back market share that the Olde Company had lost to their competitors.
The rest of management was stunned by the results. In a private conversation with a couple of them, the marketing manager was asked where he’d come up with such a great idea. “It was simple,” he told them, “all I did was what I’d learned to do in my BSBREL402A course on building client relationships and business networks. Any of you could have done the same thing.”