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 by: Jennifer Rice

The following phrase jumped out at me as I was reading the partial transcript of Peter Weedfald's keynote speech at Ad:Tech on FCNow (Peter is SVP of strategic marketing and new media for Samsung):

Samsung has been the driver of digital convergence for the last five or six years. We look at three worlds for everybody. You have a business world, a mobile world, and a home world.

So many companies get caught in the trap of focusing on where their customers are, instead of who they are. For example, most of my B2B clients insist that emotion isn't a factor in business purchases… only for home-world purchases like cars, clothes or other consumer goods. But John the IT Director is also John the father, husband, son, volunteer, runner and traveler. John may be nervous about losing his job, or he's having a disagreement with his boss, or perhaps he just got a promotion. He may have arrived late to work after an argument with his wife. His father could be ill. He often runs errands on his lunch break. Sure, John may buy Samsung products for work, on the go, or at home. But Samsung can't forget that John is still John, regardless of where he may be. John doesn't become an unfeeling robot when he walks through the door of his office every morning and make decisions on facts alone.

Microsoft takes the idea of compartmentalization even further. Seven different business units, each focusing on a type of product: Office, Windows, Mobile Devices, Servers, Developer Tools, etc. etc. Each product group has their own agenda. Yet John the IT Director purchases Office, Windows, Servers and Mobile Devices at work, but also purchases Mobile Devices, Windows and Office for his home use. His view of Microsoft products at work influences his view of Microsoft products at home, and vice versa. Perhaps he's been identified by the Server group as a Top-Tier Customer, so he receives special service and attention on this product at work. But at home he's frustrated by his inability to get support on Office since he's just one of millions of home customers. How would Microsoft do business differently if its strategies were driven by customers instead of products? What if John had a special 800 number or MVP customer code to get the same level of attention at home as he does at work? How would that impact his perception of the Microsoft brand?

Think about who your customers are, regardless of what product they use during what hours of the day. Get out of the weeds of features/benefits and talk to them like the real people they are. Earn their trust. Be likable. If you sell 'business-world' and 'home-world' products or services, stop compartmentalizing: it's quite likely that the very same customers purchase both. Identify your most valuable customers across product lines and figure out how to give them a consistently good experience with your brand. It's a different way of thinking. But when you align yourself to your customers instead of making them align themselves to you, you'll become a much more attractive choice.

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