16 Feb 2014
Easy on the rear view mirror
Are you growing as fast as you could, or as fast as you’d like? In changing markets, many firms are unable to respond quickly to their customers’ needs because all their thinking is done in a rear view mirror.
A recent study of major businesses in the US found that more than 60% of the companies polled said they were ill-equipped to respond to changes in the market and competitive activity. The list included big names such as Xerox and Deloitte.
More accurate information about customer needs, and more effective measurement of their own and competitors’ performance was a – belated – top priority.
The major barrier for these companies, and many others, is their perspective. It’s easy to see what they could have done once the opportunity had passed, but they may never get a second chance.
The home improvements market has changed rapidly in recent years, and many firms have fallen by the wayside as they failed to keep up with the change in customer needs and the market.
Many carry on doing the same old thing, because it always worked before. But without playing detective and researching the market, their strategic decisions are based on little more than guesswork. It’s easy to see that most casualties simply failed to face up to the real issues and adapt their products, service, support, behaviour and perspective to new customer needs.
Research is a low cost, low risk reality check
Research is the key to understanding markets and customers, and marketing needs this understanding to work effectively. Zeroing in on customer perceptions and behaviour reveals why sales come about, and why they don’t. When business dips, it may seem obvious what the problem is, and what needs doing. But out of date assumptions can be, and often are, fatal. It’s surprising how many firms fail to do their homework.
Facing up to reality is hard. Uncovering reality, and the barriers to growth, is just as hard. Learning from it, so you don’t repeat the mistakes of the past, is the hardest challenge of all. But, so long as your assumptions and out of date perceptions go unchallenged and untested, the chance of significant improvement or effective adaptation to an emerging market is slight.
In times of great change, the gap between customer perceptions and what management thinks they think can diverge widely. But once you can see the gap between your perceptions and the reality of customers’ views, and the views of tomorrow’s customers, you can learn to improve and adapt quickly and dramatically.
Facing up to reality is painful, but it’s not as painful as falling by the wayside.
Agree? Disagree? Want help with your marketing? Comment below, tweet @MRAMarketing or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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