There’s a great scene in the movie ‘There’s Something About Mary’ where Ben Stiller’s character Ted picks up a hitchhiker on his way to Miami to find Mary, the love of his life.
They start chatting and the hitchhiker says he’s a salesman. “You heard of this thing 8-Minute Abs? Well this is gonna blow that right outta the water. Listen to this… 7-Minute Abs”.
I got a good laugh, and happily it gave me something to open this post with. I’d promised Nick at 4CM a blog post to support our event on Inbound for Manufacturers on 18th Sept, and have been procrastinating about it – as usual – until I got the idea for my opener.
The value of 7-Minute Abs is clear – you get abs in less time – but strategically you’re on dodgy ground, and as Ted tactfully points out to the hitchhiker – someone’s going to come out with 6-Minute Abs.
Maybe unknown to the Hitchhiker, his business idea is based on pursuing a value-discipline – in this case product excellence – if he can offer 7-minute instead of 8-minute abs, he should have the best product on the market and people will buy it.
If you’re a manufacturer and you’re in business, chances are good that you’re selling some version of 7-Minute Abs. Your whole business is likely built around doing X better than anyone else creating a strong position that competitors can’t replicate easily.
However, usually what puts a company out of business is not a competitor getting incrementally better and slightly over-taking you (6-Minute Abs!). It’s an unknown entity who completely re-imagines how to serve your customers, and in doing so, completely changes how your customers expect to be served.
Netflix’s first play on disrupting the video rental business was to send rental DVD’s by post. It didn’t work, it was clumsy; it was as much hassle but less fun than going to an actual video rental shop.
We all know what happened next. When Netflix re-imagined the customer experience and changed the game of content consumption from an owning/renting model to an access model based on subscription – Blockbuster didn’t see it coming, because no-one saw it coming.
They didn’t just change the product, they changed the market.
Whether there’s a Netflix for tank gauges out there or not, remains to be seen, however, to ignore the changing expectations of a market is tantamount to resigning your desire to grow. And the expectations of the market are exceptionally clear. They are the same as your expectations – self-service, transparency, frictionless pre-sale and transaction, easy access for support and after-sale care.
This is what your market wants too, and companies need systems and processes to deliver it.
Manufacturers are notoriously shy of the technology needed to provide this type of customer experience. In fact, most of the ones I have dealt with in my years at HubSpot start off somewhere close to spreadsheets, rudimentary internal systems-of-record and paper-based record keeping.
It’s a low-base to start from, so good for us – it’s easy to improve their position and thus show value quickly. Not only does HubSpot help them get more leads (our story of origin), it helps them manage those leads through the entire customer journey – driving ‘The Flywheel’ and generating growth.
I’m looking forward to speaking to you all at the event on the 18th, and delving into the concept of Smartketing (Sales-Marketing alignment around the customer), The Flywheel and why Customer Experience is the big opportunity for companies today.
See you there!
Channel Manager UK & Ireland