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Customer Manufacturing Group
In This Issue
Innovation vs Creativity
Now What?
An Excellent Use of YouTube
Wow ... Huh?
More Information 



Customers Don't Know What They Want


 Too many marketers (especially in technically oriented companies) believe that talking to customers is a "waste of time" because customers don't know what they want. This delusion keeps most marketers from spending any real time with customers, and is probably a leading contributor to the failure of most new products.


We take a different view.


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Customer Manufacturing Update
January 2013

Dear Mitchell,


Happy New Year. Here is your January Customer Manufacturing Update. Too many marketing professionals (especially in technically oriented companies) believe that talking to customers is a "waste of time" because customers don't know what they want. Henry Ford famously said, "If I asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse." Henry didn't learn to talk to his customers and his beliefs cost him his market leadership. This month's white paper, Customers Don't Know What They Want, discusses our views on this topic.
Innovation vs Creativity

In our work with companies on innovation, we regularly remind them that creativity and innovation are not the same thing. Creativity is about new ideas, innovation is about taking new ideas and DOING something with them.


In our experience, most companies do not lack for creativity, they lack for innovation. Usually because they can't choose between the many ideas they have, and mistakenly believe they can implement more than they can. Or, simply because they fail to execute.


We were reminded of this while reading about Yahoo. In discussing Yahoo's failures a former executive states, "Yahoo has a ton of great and innovative ideas, but the execution is the problem."


While some may feel Yahoo's time has passed, and this may be true, it is not because of some cruel external fate. It is because they were sitting on the side of the road discussing how much better a car they could create. 

Now What?


The all-knowing, all-seeing Federal Reserve (not Carnac) has advised they expect the U.S. economy to remain essentially flat for several years. Is it ok with you if your company does the same? (Ok, after the downturn of 2009/10, where flat was the "new up," you might be inclined to say yes, but... really?).   


If flat is ok with you, you have to trust it is also ok with all of your competitors. This is unlikely to be true in our experience. If somebody wants to grow in a flat market, somebody else has to shrink. On the assumption you don't volunteer to be the "shrinkee," what will it take for your company to grow in a flat market? Of course, you have to take share from others. Or at least one other.


How will you do that? What is your strategy to take market share? What is your strategy to hold the share you have? Hope is not strategy ... unless you are the Federal Government, apparently. So, what's your strategy? What's your plan, and do you have a marketing plan designed to support that strategy? (We don't just mean a marketing communications plan or worse a social media plan, but a comprehensive marketing strategy and plan.)


Business is going to continue to be tough the next few years because many companies are not willing to stay flat, and the economy is not going to cover for sloppy work. Flat is probably not a viable option. It's grow or shrink. Which do you choose? Or will you let the competition choose for you?

An Excellent Use of YouTube


Many people think of YouTube as a source for viral videos. But when a video by grandparents they did not even know they were creating while trying to set up a webcam, can get 8 million hits, viral may be in the mind of the beholder.


However, Mitch found a company making outstanding use of YouTube and business acumen to compete effectively. While this construct is not new, it is an excellent example of execution.  


He needed a bike rack so he can take his and his wife's bikes to some friends house in the mountains and go biking with them. He had a trailer hitch put on his Ford Edge so he could easily accommodate a bike rack. He did not know anything about bike racks so, like most of us, he used the Internet to learn more.


His wife has a "girl's" bike with a diagonal cross-bar so he learned that the normal, "hanging" type bike rack would not work. He discovered that Thule and Yakima both had good bike racks and both had apparently good hitch-mounted, platform-style racks that would support his bike and his wife's. The question was, "which to choose, how to decide?"


Typing in the key question into the search engine, "compare the Thule Doubletrack to the Yakima Stickup" brought up a YouTube video which compared the two products plus a third one he had not considered. The video was well done (not slick, but well done) and informative. Having chosen the Thule, the question now was where to buy it?


Fair play suggested the website of the retailer who had provided him the valuable video, but, of course he checked Amazon first. As a Prime member he could get free shipping. Turned out the retailer, who provided the video, had the same prices as Amazon and also with free shipping. They made it easy to do "what was right."


That YouTube video and fair pricing got them the business. Well done. And, of course we could have a whole discussion on the search behavior I followed and how one can capitalize on that, but that will be for another time from our search behavior expert, Mark Sprague.

Wow ... Huh

One of us (who shall remain nameless) left the lights on overnight in their rental car recently. Not too smart. Fortunately the Marriott Hotel where he was staying had jumper cables and a shuttle van to use to jump the battery, so he was up and running with less than a 10 minute delay. Well done by the staff at the Marriott.


Later that day when he checked his voice mail at the office he had a voice mail message from Hertz that had arrived the night before telling him he had left the lights on in his rental car and needed to go and turn them off, or he would have a dead battery. Wow, that is cool. Problem was, he did not get the message in time to do anything about it. He generally doesn't check his office vm at 10pm at night and even if they had called his cell phone, it may not have been on. But still wow.


Then comes the huh.


Why did they not call him at the hotel? Or have the front desk call him? Somebody reported the lights on in the car. (Were you thinking they had some weird lights-on tracking device?) The Toyota Camry he was driving did not have remote headlight tracking software (in truth it did not even have turn them off automatically sensors, which was what he blames his stupidity on).


Since he was parked in the Marriott Hotel parking lot, you would think Hertz could have had them check to see if he was a guest and then have one of them call him. Didn't happen. Not sure why. We assume it might have something to do with privacy. Hertz may not have wanted to disclose who was the driver of their rental car. Don't know. But it turned a huge Wow into a Huh?

Free Reading Guide

If you have a copy of our book Value Acceleration, you can download a free reading guide to help you and your team get the most from the book. (And btw, the book was updated in 2012 and is also available in a Kindle edition.)

We appreciate your feedback to help improve these

Updates. If there are others you feel would benefit from this issue, use the Forward email link just below on the left.





Mitchell Gooz


Customer Manufacturing Group, Inc.


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