One of my first real jobs (ie: post-college) was as a technical writer for a music equipment company. I was in charge of writing and maintaining user manuals for all their various hardware and software based equipment. I was also to develop a version tracking system for all this. It was pretty fun for me, because I was a user and supporter of the particular brands I was in charge of. As I progressed in that position, I was also asked to write marketing copy for the same brands.
As I moved into the marketing department to handle the writing and later, the design of marketing materials, I was tutored by a smart man, to whom I have referred on this blog before.
One of my first experiences with him was a meeting where he set out his objectives for me to accomplish. To this day, his best advice to me was to always put myself in a customer service position in whatever I was working on, whether it was graphic design, or writing copy, or whatever... he said the that only question I needed to answer every day was, "what will it do for ME?"
This has become valuable advice to follow for me through my career. He was a task master, and was VERY demanding. Whenever he looked at anything I produced, his first question to me was "what does it do for ME?" He encouraged me to talk to the sales reps in the field who were selling the gear to dealers, and also to talk to dealers themselves to see if our design and marketing was keeping up with the needs of our brands versus the other competitive brands that were out there. He MADE me be accessible to these people all the time, and he always wanted to know how we were stacking up to the competition from a marketing perspective.
Today, many years later, I now have a business that I try to position and market against competitors in the marketplace. Although the fields are very different, the question I ALWAYS ask myself, is "what will it do for me?"
The easier way to pose the question, is "why should I care about what you have to offer me?"
Whenever I send out anything to potential clients/customers, I try to determine if I have answered that question with a valid, concise, accurate, and beneficial proposition. I have gone back to the drawing board from time to time, based on the answer to that very question. It has generally served me well.
Over the last several months, I have applied that question as I have looked at politics, and other things too.
This question is the genesis of success in the business world. And politics is business too.
From a customer service perspective, if you don't pay attention to your audience, or if you fail to answer that very important question, you run the risk of ending up talking to a room full of chairs with no butts in the seats.
Apply that thought, now, to others in leadership positions, both in business and politics. If you have failed to bridge the gap between what you are offering me, the customer, and whether it benefits me at all, you will not be in business for long. This involves LISTENING, to a great extent, which is why that old wise boss of mine made me call those people regularly to ASK them if we were doing the right things for them.
Sometimes companies' leaders and elected officials forget to ask the question, and more importantly, forget to listen for the answer.
How does this happen?
Its interesting to watch different CEOs of different companies and how they deal with the issue of making customers happy. You can tell the ones that don't trust their products or services. They travel with big groups of people. There are advance teams to make sure everything is perfect. They bring security to places where their customers are families and kids. They protect themselves from any possible interactions, whether direct, phone or email by having secretaries filter everything, and they respond with form letters or assistants, if at all.
So what's the point here? It's this, if you don't offer any value in your proposition to me, you won't be successful for long. You might be for a while, but these days, that's an even shorter period than it used to be.
So, business leaders, elected officials, anyone who wants to be successful in life, ask the question, listen to the answer, and most importantly, take actions to make sure the two are symbiotic.
And that old boss? He's moved on from that VP job too... He now owns a successful music equipment business in California too.