All Marketers Claim to be Customer-Centric: But How Many Really Are?


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In his great new Book, “Reorganize for Resilience,” Harvard B-School Professor Ranjay Gulati describes how and why companies should be moving from inside-out to Outside-In (he uses Outside-In as a surrogate term for customer-centricity). From his organizational dynamics perspective, he describes four “stages” of this transition. But most marketers aren’t trying to reach the end stage or even the third, but instead are content with stages one or two. Why?

[I’m excerpting from Gulani’s descriptions]

Stage one: “(Companies) view the world entirely through the lens of their own goods and services.”

Stage two: “Though they (companies) understand customer needs, they still focus on their products, viewing the customer through the lens of the company’s offerings, focusing on customers’ experience with their purchase while ignoring the larger problems customers may be trying to solve.”

Stage three: Think they’re customer-centric and they are, but not all the way: “They focus first on the problems their customers are trying to solve, only then turn to their products, configuring their offerings to address those problems.”

Stage four: Outside-In (customer-centric) to the core: “A level four firm is more attached to producing solutions to those problems than it is to the products and services it offers. This intellectual, structural and emotional transition means it is no longer concerned whether the inputs it uses to solve customers’ problems are its own or assembled through a network of partners.”

What stage does your marketing support?


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