Sunday, July 14, 2013

Customers Determine Great Ideas, Not You

One of my favorite business bloggers, Fred Wilson, recently introduced me and his readers to another blogger named Benedict Evans.  Evans recently wrote a thoughtful piece titled Glass, Home and Solipsism that starts with:

One of the things you're supposed to work out some time in your adolescence is that though you're the star of your own life, you're not the star of anyone else's.  Some companies never work this out.

The key paragraph is:

In other words, your customers' relationships with you are the only relationships you have as a business and you think a lot about them. But you're one of a thousand things your customer thinks about in a week, and one of dozens of businesses. And they probably have their own ideas about how they want to engage with you (though they wouldn't put it in those words) - assuming they think about you at all

One of the readers nicely summarizes the point in the Comments section when he says:

"...a business has to remember that it's never about the product itself. It's about what the product DOES for your customers."

In looking at the golf industry on a macro level, I think we could do a better job of this.  Many consumers find golf expensive, time-consuming, difficult and daunting, and our challenge as an industry is that these issues are complex, fundamental and unrelated.

From a player development standpoint, if we're to stand out against the dozens of other ways people can spend their time and money, we need to make golf as easy, palatable and inexpensive to try as possible.  We need to market programs to the non-playing population.  Bring golf to where they already are instead of asking them to come to us.  Provide equipment and everything else needed.  Socialize the experience.  Create a nurturing environment.  Set people up to experience immediate success with the game.  All these things, a driving range with no rental clubs predominately occupied by men/husbands with golf pros charging $75+/lesson is not.

So for all the innovators, entrepreneurs and industry members out there working to grow the game, let's prioritize our focus first and foremost on the experience our consumers want/need to have, and then apply our great ideas to the manifestation of that experience.  Seems simple and obvious, but it bears repetition and I appreciate Evans' frank comments about the reality of the one-sided relationship we often have with our customers.

Best wishes and happy entrepreneuring...

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