The WHY of What You Do - March 2014
The answer to what motivates customers to choose a supplier of their products and services is a complex one but one that I think warrants a good amount of focus of any business owner. Have you thought about why some companies have exponentially more success than others when each of the companies has the same access to resources, the same ability to acquire talent, and the same economic restraints and regulations? What makes successful companies different? Many of you might say that the reason for any competitive advantage can be superior products and service offerings, more aggressive innovation, better company culture, or even just better marketing. I believe that each of these are true, but that they all derive from the same place: the purpose of the company. I believe customers gravitate to the Why of what we do.
In every industry, existing products and services tend to become commoditized as they move through the product life cycle especially as that industry develops and matures. Companies rely on differentiators and innovations to drive advantages, which can typically give them incremental advances over the others in their industry. In the consulting industry, today’s clients have the ability to retain any number of firms who are experts in the latest buzz word areas of expertise. Each of these firms is going to have highly talented individuals in their firm who have impressive pedigrees and are thought leaders in their respective areas of expertise. But how does a client know which consulting company is going to deliver a solution that is going to be impactful and drive the return on investment they are seeking? What is it about the successful companies in any industry that make clients choose them time and time again over others? Expertise and the ability to deliver high-quality effective products and services is a necessary factor, but I believe the main driver of choice is shared beliefs.
Company beliefs can come in the form of something formal like a company’s mission statement and core values or it can simply come from the individuals that have come together to form the company – what motivates them, what is the purpose behind their production, or what is it that they are ultimately trying to achieve. Defining company philosophy sets the bedrock for any company, which allows it to hire people for the right reasons and allows those employees to work for clients with the right intention. Apple has shown over the last decade that it has one of the most compelling cultures in the world, and consumers have indicated that it resonates with them. Its customers have shown that they will just as easily buy a music device or a phone as a laptop from the computer manufacturer. Its key people have also gone on to start other companies that have garnered immediate investment and consumer attention with only a business plan. Investors know that these individuals have a high chance of success not because of their technical talent and track record but rather because of the motivations and intentions.
Many other companies are trying to catch up, and time will tell whether people can envision buying a phone from Google or a cloud service from Facebook – milestones that a computer maker like Apple has already achieved. The driving force behind this consumer interaction will be a company’s ability to define and communicate their purpose and that starts with employees. Companies with a sound compelling philosophy attract lifelong followers not just individual consumers. As we grow and shape the companies we are part of, our success will be determined by our abilities to keep the Why of our business in focus.
- Ryan Neal, President
Blueprint Consulting Services