I read a lot. Newspapers, magazines, books, e-mails, brochures… I like to read so I frequently read just to read. But I also exert quite a bit of effort in trying to educate myself. So, since I am in business development and find marketing and sales topics interesting, I read a lot about marketing and sales.
I used to try and absorb most of what I read without giving it a critical enough eye to distuinguish new information from the theoretical, recycled, and reworded. One of my employers used a consultant for a while that writes. Years ago I might have accepted what he wrote as new information, and based on that acceptance I might have considered him a reliable source for marketing and sales ideas or strategies that actually work. However, looking back at the projects that the consultant led and taking the street level view (or customer perspective), I see now that what that consultant did was marketing and sales activities that impressed our owners and management. They were internally focused not focused at customers at all.
So what can you do if you are writing the check and want to make sure the latest new marketing activity added to your budget is actually customer fcused? Ask these two questions:
- How will this project/activity engage customers and serve their needs or build our relationship with them?
- How will this project/activity allow us to obtain and use information (or more and better information) from our customers?
These are the main questions in the Customer Focus category of the Baldrige criteria. The questions are equally effective in screening your actual work and in filtering what you read.