Develop for the customer, not for yourself

I’ve recently taken on the role of ‘Technology Ambassador’ for the CIM North East of England Regional Board – a voluntary role to represent the interests of the tech community at a regional and national level whilst helping to increase membership of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

The CIM celebrated its 100th anniversary last year which is a fantastic achievement and testament to its ability to adapt and evolve as an organisation. Having been a member since 2006, I’ve always been thoroughly impressed by the quality and range of their events and training courses, particularly the one day workshops which use industry experts, not just trainers, to deliver sessions on the latest trends in digital marketing. Their free member magazine, ‘The Marketer’ magazine for members is also a must-read for me and a great source of ideas and inspiration for the work that I do.

Apart from the training and qualifications it provides, the CIM also provides its members with a solid grounding in the founding principles of marketing and promotion which I think are relevant to every type of business, not just tech. Some people still think of marketing as selling things to people that they don’t really want, but really it’s about satisfying customer needs by presenting them with products and services that are going to make their lives easier, happier and more fulfilling. To this end, the greatest marketer of recent years has got to be Steve Jobs who not only turned around the fortunes of Apple, but revolutionised the computer (Mac/iPad), phone (iPhone), music (iPod/iTunes) and film (Pixar) industries too!

Where I see organisations like the CIM playing a vital role, is by encouraging more businesses and individuals to adopt a truly customer-centric approach to the development of new products and services. Far too much time, money and effort is wasted on developing things that no-one really wants just because the team behind it thinks it is cool or clever without involving real-life users in the design process.

A customer-focused mindset is absolutely fundamental to the principles laid out in the fantastic book ‘The Lean Startup’ by Eric Ries which I recommend that you read. (You can also listen to a 25min telephone interview I did with Eric on 31st Jan 2012 below:

With its foundations in the 50yr old Toyota Production System, San Franciscan entrepreneur and author Eric is a leading figure in a global movement of ‘Lean thinking’ which is all about minimising waste and maximising value for both the customer and business. If you’ve ever worked on a project or in a business that failed, you should read this book and think about how the ideas can be used in your work. Companies like Facebook and Amazon have already built ‘lean’ into their business so if they can do it why can’t you?

If you’d like to know more about CIM membership or training and how it can help you or your business, email me at plandigital@live.co.uk or call 07734722716.

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