Your Customer Just Replaced Your CEO

March 24, 2007 6:30 pm

The word is out. Advertising in the traditional sense is dying. Some would argue it’s already dead. Interruptive advertising – via TV, radio, Internet or phone – has given rise to as many means to shut out marketing messages as there are to deliver them. Think iPod, TiVo, Do Not Call, and Anti-Spam. All forms of anti-communication.

The numbers that many top executives lived by are breaking down as a result. I was just talking with an entrepreneur whose business relied heavily on telemarketing. If his call center made so many dials in a given period of time, they would generate a predictable number of leads. And given the quality of the sales force, they could get a fairly good read on projected numbers.

The same was true of another CEO I talked to with regard to newspaper advertising. If they hit a certain market with the right saturation, they would get a relatively expected response.

I spoke with yet another, this time the division president of a manufacturing company. If they distributed a certain number of mailings during the year, they would generate the right number of interested prospects that would lead to a predictable number of new customers.

The “Push-Pull” concept, the very foundation of marketing, is also starting to falter. Push-Pull is the two-way street of creating a sales opportunity. Imagine a doorway situated between you and a potential customer. You can either use force to pull them through the doorway, or use force to push them through it.

But it’s all breaking down. Businesses and consumers don’t want to be marketed to. Today’s buyers of business or personal goods and services don’t want to be preached to. They don’t want to be advertised to. They don’t want to be pulled, and they certainly don’t want to be pushed. I’m not sure if today’s customer REALLY wants to be sold to anymore for that matter. So what’s the answer? What is the well-meaning marketer to do?

It’s time to face the fact: there’s a new sheriff(s) in town. If you’re the leader of your company, or if you have a top executive you report to, that person is NOT in charge of the business anymore. Your customers are. No longer should CEO stand for Chief Executive Officer. To remain competitive today, you must make the shift to CEO – Customer Empowered Organization.

Customers have the power now. They can turn you on, or turn you off. They can delete you, blacklist you, or give your brand a “virtual no” with a simple click.

What does this mean for marketers? It’s time to stop pushing and pulling, and start putting your faith, heart, soul and every ounce of being into your customers’ experience.

While they don’t want to be pushed or pulled, under the right circumstances, customers and prospects are willing to be led. People welcome leadership, either wanting to be in the presence of it, or wanting to have it. Lead them to the opportunity your brand represents, and let them be in charge of the progression every step of the way.

“Leadership Branding” represents a new platform for engaging a customer, but one that doesn’t “sell,” even though the results resoundingly lead to sales. It’s an approach that has to do with offering high-quality information, experience, and empowerment, which enables the potential buyer or customer to willingly take the ride, and explore your brand with depth and purpose.

It’s time to stop serving up to prospects the information YOU want them to know. It’s time to start giving them the information THEY want to know.

Special offers, your products and services, the wonderment of your company . . . these things are BORING. Buyers don’t care. They want experience. They want leadership. They want to realize visions and dreams. They want knowledge and competitive advantage. They don’t want a solution to a problem. They want to know that you can make that problem go away, starting today, and “make it go away forever” (I credit fellow EOer David Wolfskehl for that one).

Put on your customer hat, and before taking any new marketing steps, ask these two critical questions: What do I want my customer or prospect to think when they encounter my brand? What do I want them to do? You’ve just taken your brand – and your business – to a higher level.

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About The Author

We specialize in b2b, supporting the clients who are the "The Brands Behind the Brands." These are the supply chain partners of brands, either in Tier 1 or Tier 2 positions, who drive value through the delivery of goods, services and technologies. We enjoy blogging about all things related to Branding, Marketing, Inbound, Tradeshows, etc... And we're always happy to talk about any ideas you may have that might Get You To Your NEXT!