The list of technology options today is long and growing and available in features-rich products that support and improve virtually every business task. How much are you adopting technology to help you leverage the humans in your organization?
“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” It’s a popular phrase, but in the Age of the Customer small businesses are learning the hard way that their old dogs need to learn some new tricks — and quickly.
In the second century B.C., the Roman statesman, Cato, began learning Greek at the age of 75. When asked why he was undertaking such a challenging educational enterprise at his advanced age, he replied, “This is the youngest age I have.”
No matter what we do, no matter where we go, owner or employee, we must continue to study, train and learn. Everyone in your organization. Everyone, every day, needs life-long learning. And in the age of globalism and interconnectivity, it is more important than ever before.
Are you feeling threatened, maybe even frightened these days with all of the economic challenges, plus the changes brought on by the advent of the information age? Me, too. Sometimes it seems we’re like Alice – running as hard as we can just to stay in one place. And in our Wonderland, everything is changing so fast that what we learned today may be obsolete tomorrow.
The irony is the thing creating so much potential for anxiety is also the thing that can help you stay competitive. That thing is called technology. Specifically, the unprecedented wealth of information available on the Internet.
When I feel threatened by all of the new knowledge and capability that’s emerging, I just make a point to learn something new every day, with emphasis on social media and e-commerce, or how my industry is adapting to the virtual marketplace. When I acquire that new understanding or capability, I smile like Alice’s Cheshire Cat because learning makes me feel stronger, as if I’ve gained a little ground in the marketplace. Maybe today I put the heat on a competitor.
Give it a try. The only thing better than your garden variety smile is one that comes from knowing you just got a little smarter.
Remember the wisdom of the statesman: This is the youngest age you have.
It’s your moment of relevance. Take advantage of it.
When you take a photograph, the resulting product is two-dimensional: tall, wide, and flat. But in most cases, you want the photo to actually show depth, where images in the foreground and background are all in focus.
In photographic terms, the range of focus front to back is called depth of field. The way to expand depth of field so more of the subjects in the photo are in focus is to add light. Light creates depth of field.
If you were given a photo of people who were the most critical to your success, you’d easily recognize your customers in the foreground in perfect focus. But as you look deeper into the photo you’d notice the images behind that first row increasingly drop out of focus with each receding row. The reason is because for most of the history of the marketplace, businesses have gotten away with having a very narrow customer depth of field.
When the coin of the realm was to be competitive, that meant you spent all your time thinking about how to serve the person in the foreground, the first row of your business world: your customers. But as I’ve revealed in the past, being competitive has been trumped by being relevant. And in The Age of the Customer, perhaps the most important component of being relevant to business customers is helping them serve the most important person in their photo: their customers.
Let me say that again with Blasingame’s New Law of Customer Relevance:
If you want to have customers for life, help your customers help their customers.
The way to accomplish this is to increase the depth of field of your customer photo. Light up the view beyond the first row of customers so that the second row is completely in focus. This three-step process works every time:
Executing this approach is how you acquire customers you almost can’t run off. Because when you help your customers help their customers, they know you’re doing more than just delivering stuff; you’ve become part of their team – integrated and committed, like a true stakeholder.
And if you want to pull off the customer relevance hat trick, light up the third row of your businesses photo: Help your customers help their customers help their customers.
I’ve done it – it’s a beautiful thing.
Achieve maximum relevance with customers by helping them serve their customers.