An Ecosystem Approach to Engaging the ‘Right’ Customer

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Last month we talked about how you knew you had the wrong customer, and how de-focusing it is to your organization when you serve these customers. This month, we will continue the customer-conversation and talk about engaging the right customers.

The strategy, execution and ultimate success of any company, large or small is the engagement of the right customers for the right solutions at the right time and continuing to add value and develop deep relationships with customers, partners, vendors and other stakeholders. This month’s marketing blog focuses on how to engage those right customers, through the strategy, execution and expansion of an organization.

Strategy Phase: Understanding the Market Trends and Customer Needs Whether you’re just launching or dreaming about your new company, struggling to pivot it to a new direction, or riding that hockey stick, it’s essential to know what-you-do-for whom, how that fits into the evolution of the business market, and what that means to your customers now and in the future.

1. To understand how your product and service offerings fit into the market, it’s important to talk to your customers, partners, vendors, analysts and others about what their needs are and what the business model is around serving that need. No one person will have all the answers, but everyone will have a piece of the puzzle. The genius is someone who can weave the pieces together and transcend the data into an integrated solution which serve all stakeholders sustainably.

2. Often your stakeholders are working with partial solutions which address some of their needs, but not all of them, which may serve them well for now, but may not be enough in the long term. Hearing what your stakeholders are saying directly and between the lines will help you craft a strategy which engages the ecosystem of partners, leverages technology to sustainably and collaboratively serve the needs of customers and partners, and generates an integrated business model which benefit all.

Execution Phase: Collaborating Across the Ecosystem In this new economy, leadership will be more about seeing and managing a web of relationships than a pyramid, king-of-the-mountain structure. Today’s leader will have the vision to see how stakeholders work together, the integrity and ingenuity to see how collaboration is key, and success-for-one-is-success for all.

3. Mapping out the motivations, interests, resources and merits of each partner in the ecosystem will help leaders strategically understand how best to work with others, and the role of themselves and their organization in the market.

4. Forging partnerships and relationships across the ecosystem, and transparently communicating interests, motivations and collaborative ideas will become ever more important in the new economy.

5. Collaborative offerings between stakeholders will create more energy and momentum to each entity and the ecosystem as a whole.

Expansion Phase: Seeing Beyond Your Own Needs One of the benefits of this systemic, ecosystem, collaborative approach is that it makes an organization more nimble, and it helps leaders adopt a broader perspective about industry, customer and technology trends as well as global market trends.

6. When you see beyond your own needs, and map the trends beyond your offerings, you can respond more nimbly, quickly and collaboratively as technology and customer and global needs evolve.

7. Partnerships with specific organizations across the value chain can help individual entities more efficiently deliver customized services to customers, customers they may have common with others in the ecosystem.

Relationships Are Paramount

8. Not every stakeholder will buy into this new type of integrated partnership. Building relationships of trust and delivering results that benefit all are essential to ensure that the partners inclined to respond to this approach actually commit and deliver on their end.

9. The days of divide-and-conquer, one-king-of-the-mountain and independent monopolies will soon pass, and the days of the self-serving leader/company will be lessons in a history book about what-could-have-been. Those who see and lead past the fear and embrace relationships and collaboration will tell tales about how they led their organizations through the pivot, and how their leadership turned the company around.

10. Collaborative partnerships across the ecosystem will assist organizations to expand into new markets, services, technologies and offerings. The trick is to ensure that all entities across the ecosystem benefit from expansion opportunities and that relationships remain intact when there’s a lot of money at stake.

This new model of relationship-development and leadership is not business-as-usual. But it’s a model of doing business which fits well with the evolution of the market: from an age of information to an age of personalization.

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