Designing Your Long Term Customer: Who do you want them to become?
Steve Jobs in his home in Palo Alto with Bill Gates 1991
The growth of a highly successful business; one which goes beyond the normal operation that most company bosses settle for, is defined by three factors. First there is the natural need to grow. Next is desire to innovate - provide something different from its’ competitors and something new for the customer. Finally, there is industry disruption; how all these factors combine not only will change the business itself but also, alter the customers.
Appealing to customers’ intellect or purely satisfying their needs for products and services is not enough any more. Designing a long term loyal consumer is also about forming a “connection”, through evoking feelings and today more than ever before, we need to appeal to customers’ emotions, aspirations and adopt general motivational cues to create a desired and lasting bond with our brands, goods and services.
To understand how we create our customers, the first questions to ask ourselves are: Who are we and what do we stand for? Why do we do what we do? What is our core truth? What have we set out to accomplish? Are we creating a change?
Only by anticipating the next trend for our market, providing and delivering the right solutions and skilfully inspiring and driving both ourselves and our customers to that chosen destination, will get us the desired results. We can choose to acquire market dominance by focusing on sales as a “me too” brand – one who follows current developments and seizes an opportunity which was created by others. To be a disrupter or trend setter we need to seek market dominance through true innovation and trends that others have not seen before but can eventually follow.
To do that, the process must start by gathering followers, very much like Seth Godin’s “tribes” - the groups of people “connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea”.
So how do you influence customers’ needs and their desires?
To get intimately close to the customer is easier said than done by most. To truly get their attention, to lead and influence, we must know how to:
understand the customer
educate, guide, influence, disrupt
foster desire and inspire to want whatever we produce avidly
deliver change via constant and unique innovation
lead the customers willingly to the next level through their own hunger for our service or product
“Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.” – Steve Jobs
Recently, Apple have been a perfect tribe creator and consumer influencer worth mentioning. It was from a home garage in Palo Alto California when they determined their strategy of emotional intelligence to “guide” the customer into buying what they will need and would ultimately desire. This was delivered at a time when larger companies and potential competitors thought otherwise, but Steve Jobs, convinced of the market for small and ready-to-use computers for consumers, set out to ensure that customers realised this and bought into his vision - one he shared and delivered on, repeatedly. Fast forward 30 years, can we recognise how many of us are now part of his tribe?
Who will your customers become after they interact with you?
“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” -Henry Ford
Not sure if you still remember your first mobile phone, but I do. It was the size of a house brick, had none of the modern features, cameras, satnavs and so on… But today I must have it all in a pocket size device, preferably manufactured by a chosen brand. Don’t you? Whether we admit or not, we have been changed… We have been inspired and showed the future, our needs transformed, expectations amplified, feelings tampered with…
Innovative businesses are:
anticipating the market and customers’ current and future needs and desires
inspiring and driving customers to want more and proving fuel for the customers’ desires
making the future happen by providing solutions and delivering first rate results
creating tribes of willing customers (think Apple’s new product launch day queues) who listen, follow and absorb information about your products
most importantly, creating hordes of ambassadors for the product who adopt and spread the word with enthusiasm because they love the product and what it does
they are truthful to themselves and their customers, they have a strong belief in what they do and the reasons why
Designing a sense of higher value, social status, belonging and of course ultimately, fervent customer loyalty is what most successful companies seek to create. But we must also ask ourselves: what will our brands become as a result and are we are ready for it? Can we foresee where the newly developed customer expectations will take us next?