Sunday, October 23, 2011

The most important person on the organization chart.

         In one of my fashion marketing exams, I used to show an organization chart. Every box was filled with the name of every position, from workers in the mailroom to the Chairman of the Board. But there was one box on top with nothing written in it. It was for the most important person.

         I asked who that person is.

         Happily, I got the right answer most of the time. The most important person is, of course, the customer. Everything else depends on her.

         Without a customer there's nothing to make, nothing to package, nothing to sell. Nothing to advertise, nobody to do PR for, nothing to ship. Nothing to keep records of, nothing to put in the bank.

         Actually, without a customer, you have nothing to worry about, and that would be a pity.

         I want marketing and advertising students to understand that there are two places you can start to think about an idea. You can start with the product, figure out its most unique and appealing features, and frame your strategy.

         Or you can start with people. Understand them and what they want,  draw the line back to the product, and come up with an idea about how people's wants can be satisfied.

         Start with the product, and your ideas will soon run out. But you'll never come up dry if you start with understanding people, their hopes and dreams and fears and worries.

         Steve Jobs understood this. All great marketers do. Come up with a great gadget and it's just a gadget, unless it does something for somebody, in a way that appeals to them.

        Business schools teach that you don't have a business until somebody buys something.

        You're a customer every day. I hope you know how important you are.

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