Monday, June 23, 2008

Telling the Market How to Think

It can be very tempting to tell the market how to think.

I've frequently seen this in the area of managment consulting. The clients should want this and should prefer that but they don't. They have their reasons.

A meeting with the president of a firm that had shot from miniscule to international within just a few years has never left me. After I gave my usual sage advice about a particular project, he replied, "You know, that's good guidance. That's exactly what I would have said in my days as a lawyer. But this is why I want to handle it differently." He then outlined an approach that made enormous sense from a managerial standpoint. In my eagerness to push a particular strategy, I had looked past his concerns.

The different perspective of the market does not mean that the market is far-sighted or even correct but that it has its own logic and those of us with products and services to sell have to set our ego aside and pay attention to that logic.

This old problem recently arose in another setting. A community group has operated with the perspective that it needs to reach young people in order to shed a "senior citizen" image. Programs and publicity campaigns have been designed to reach a younger crowd. What has been missed is that the market has been shouting, "Older people are going to be more interested in your services. Why not aim at them?" The group has ignored the most receptive portion of its market because of a notion of what the market should be rather than what the market is. With a more realistic adjustment, it will reap much better results.

You may have similar scenarios in your business. Our biases can lead us onto treacherous trails when a smooth and grassy path is nearby.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Those of us who play basketball were often told, "Let the game come to you." There are times when greater effort simply makes you tired without having a solid result.