A Marketer's New Year's Resolution - Resist Internal Focus

by Rajat Kapur

Team Capability Building

Customer_Focus.jpgOne of the toughest jobs a successful marketer faces is driving a culture of customer-focus inside their organization. During periods of change - such as internal re-orgs, mergers, acquisitions, or similar turmoil - this challenge can be amplified.  The calendar has hit January; many of our clients face higher than normal organizational chaos, so a call for added focus may be more appropriate than ever.

The rumor mill

We have heard it all:

  • Two divisions may be combining
  • We may acquire (or merge with, or sell to) our competitor (or supplier, or an investor group)
  •  A certain senior executive is leaving (or joining) the company
  • We have a new cost-reduction initiative on the horizon

...Or some other refrain.

The easy way out is to focus inward – to delay decisions or put off investments in the areas that you know will drive customer value.  But in the long run, negative energy and inactivity may be the most harmful activities of all. 

This year, I challenge marketers at all levels of their organizations to stay one step above the fray and redirect that energy to answering one simple question:  What am I going to do this year to resist internal focus and stay customer focused? 

Redirect the energy

This inevitable conservatism during organizational chaos can be fought through redirecting negative energy into productive conversations.  Ask provocative questions, such as:

  • Despite our tight budgets, how can we creatively deliver what customers truly want?
  • If our competitors are facing similar situations, can we use this period of industry chaos as an opportunity to gain market share?
  • Can we optimize our products and services to more efficiently deliver what customers want?
  • Do we know what our customer’s customers want? Do we know how end users experience our products and services?
  • Do we have the organizational capability to be customer focused? What simple steps can we take to make a large difference?
  • Have we spent enough time with our customers lately (in their offices, on the shop floor, in their homes, at the shelf) to know how our internal decisions will impact things at the crucial ‘moments of truth’?

Lead from any level

Leadership can come from anywhere. The charge to re-focus the organizational mindset can drive a positive trajectory to the rest of the company.  However, if you wait for your marketing leadership to drive this change, you may be missing a huge opportunity. Positive mindsets can be a career differentiator for people anywhere in the organization, from the individual contributor who just joined to the most seasoned and well respected marketer. 

As your New Year’s Resolution – challenge yourself to do 3 things that will help drive your organization’s mindset to being more customer-centric and externally focused. Even if your organization is not facing such levels of chaos, this may be the perfect time to double down on the customer and embody the right behaviors within your company, business unit, or office. 

Rajat (Raj) Kapur is an Engagement Leader at EMM Group and has helped a several of our clients with a variety of challenges – including go to market strategy, value proposition development, and sales enablement.  Reach out to him via email (RajatKapur@emmgroup.net) or Twitter (@rkapur105).


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Keywords: Team Capability Building