Most businesses spend a lot of time and energy agonising over their goals and objectives, establishing KPIs and targets and defining strategies and tactics to achieve them.
In fact a whole industry has grown up around this and several months of the year are often dedicated to the next round of strategic planning. This is especially true when it comes to Marketing – not least due to the annual ritual of the budget land grab.
Now don’t get me wrong – defining clear objectives, planning how you will deliver them and knowing what resources you will need is a fundamentally important management task.
But…sometimes we as marketers get so caught up in the process that we forget that our objectives are only part of the picture. Have we given enough thought to our customer’s goals? What are they trying to achieve when they do business with our industry? What ‘success measures’ do they have? (not that they would ever use such an expression of course).
Are we too focussed on defining what success looks like for us and forgetting that we have to start by defining what it looks like to our customer?
If we just design our businesses around what is important to us we may well achieve a measure of success. But it is likely to be along the lines of what Fred Reicheld calls ‘bad profits’ – short-term, unsustainable and likely to come back to haunt us.
In the worst case scenario our goals (e.g. cutting costs by discouraging people from contacting Customer Services) may be at complete variance with those of the customer (who may need to speak to a human being rather than consult a FAQ page). It doesn’t take an MBA to realise what will be the end result of such a fundamental disconnect.
This the gap we have to be mindful of.
To close it we just need to ask: ‘what do our customers want to achieve through us?’