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Finding a Customer Base that Buys Your Products and Adds Value to Your Own Company

Making business into a creative scenario that helps the entire market and the company that provides the service.

For years, I have wanted to create a break-out product or business idea that everyone will want to embrace and that will be instantly a success in the sales column of the company, mine or someone else’s.

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I don’t think it works that way. I think that in order to create something that is a blowout success, you have to turn from an internal focus to an external focus.

What the consumer wants is actually very different than what we tell ourselves internally makes a good product. I can’t tell you how many power point presentations and internal discussions I have had discussing a company’s strengths. I personally don’t feel very reflective or concerned with internal strengths. Any product is an act of giving to the customer base. The customers surely don’t care what we are “inside”. They want to see how valuable they are to us.

Think of it this way, if I have three channels open: a sales department, a sponsorships and exhibits department, and a production department. I may also have a fourth channel open — a marketing department. So, let’s say four.

Channels 1 through 3 — marketing, sponsorships, delegate sales — are timed on how much they can get done in a day in terms of contracts out, phone calls made, media partnerships sent out and call and email marketing builds. If they hear something they can pass it on, but it doesn’t stay in their bins as a product strategy hint. It immediately goes to the production department for ONE single person to process.

That’s a great definition of success, but it’s an old version of success. It’s very Calvinistic. Good production equals massive reward. Yes, BUT….

In a sense, this vision is myopic, and this mission in that sense is to pass it on with the person with the far range, the production person.

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That person is not the person who first heard the criticism, helpful hint, or praise.

In some cases, the people in channels 1 through 3 are not passing on the information, and keeping it until the silos come together at a unified moment of time, which is irregular and spread out far between each meeting.

If a company can listen to the market, and give the market what it wants, then why are the department channels 1 through 3 not given the chance to be equipped with the skills to enable them to understand the market and converse with it in terms that make sense to the market? Why are departments who have the greatest contact with the customer base retreating after that initial interaction and handing it off to some who receives the information second-hand?

A great social value of a company is that it can be immediately responsive to the environment in which it sells and produces its products. 

Now, imagine another scenario.

The company works on the web, and as a team listens, collaborates together and with the market, creating strategies with the market to listen better, to find more and deeper layers of information.

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What if they become a nexus for information sharing, transfer, and processing? The company could use social networking and graphic interface displays of time and content in the non-linear realm, like Brightkite, so that the individuals are now working virtually outside of their silos, and can see how everyone is communicating with everyone else, and, on task, in a mission critical way, be able to assist each other to take advantage of opportunities, and solve problems as they are developing.That works both in interactions with the customer base and the organization, making them a socially cohesive, trusting unit.

What if, for a brief time, that company’s immediate and singular goal was to transform itself into a constantly fluid, multilateral series of channels that are open throughout the year, offering flash forums, instant discussions, webinars, and online interactions that could happen with only one week or three days of lead time? A human google.

It’s not entirely impossible.

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About the author

Douglas Crets is a Developer Evangelist and Editorial Lead at the Microsoft BizSpark program. He works to tell the story of thousands of startups hosted in the Azure cloud platform built by Microsoft. Traveler, technology enthusiast, meetup leader, education reformer, and global nomad. 1.650.224.1475 or dcrets@microsoft.com

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