The Business Model of the Future Is People-to-People
Before the development of the marketing concept as a management philosophy in the 1950s, marketing was defined essentially as selling. The traditional view of marketing up to that time was that marketing was responsible for creating demand for what farms, factories, forests, fishing, and mines could produce.
Marketing has also been viewed in the past as the function responsible for creating a satisfied customer and for keeping the entire organization focused on the customer.
Focusing attention on the company’s strategy for the delivery of superior value to customers is crucial. Superior marketing defined as customer-focused problem solving and the delivery of superior value to customers is a more sustainable source of competitive advantage than product technology per se.
In the final analysis, only the customer can decide whether the company has created value and whether it will survive in the hyper-competitive global marketplace.
More recently, the dominant business competence appears to be business flexibility. Significant competence is brought together within a flexible business network of inter-organizational arrangements. This is why the cloud is growing so fast, because it allows companies to be nimble in changing the moving parts sort of speak in an efficient way and with agility.
The conflict between the demands of the present and the requirements of the future lies at the heart of why a strategic shift in context and focus is needed. The environment in which tomorrow’s success will be earned is likely to be quite different from the environment that confronts organizations today.
To succeed in the new environment of tomorrow, the organization itself must undergo a significant and radical change from the traditional B2B, or B2C, or B2B2C, to become a people-to-people business.
By focusing on people, companies can outcompete and outperform everyone else because to serve people you have to know and own why you exist. Why you exist is tied to your values. The reasons that compel you to do what you do.
When you stand for something that matters, others with similar values want to be a part of it. Rather than just customers, you end up building an unshakable culture and community.
This is a key point of distinction. The most successful companies in the world build communities and serve those communities with focus and purpose.
Being everything to everyone is the quickest way to have the least loyal customers, employees, and relationships. It’s like being a business without a soul. A zombie business.
To be truly disruptive is to reshape your company so that others can’t compete with you. Today that requires a more radical approach, centered on people.
Build a Radical Brand
Why you exist trumps what you do and how you do it. Why you exist also ties to the purpose for your existence as a brand. If you exist simply to make money, then your value is making money. You would be best served by attracting people who only care about making money.
There is nothing wrong with that value, but it’s not heart based. What is the memorable experience you are creating for customers if your focus is only to make money? There is no relationship there. Everything is simply a transaction. Every day you have to start fresh and earn each customer — there is no stickiness in that business model.
The best way I can describe a heart base value is to share a recent dialogue I had with the CEO of a company seeking to get into the US marketplace from Europe.
I asked the CEO what business they are in, and he went on to describe his inventions and products for sustainable energy. I then proceeded to ask why he is in business, and he explained to me his desire to save the planet. Super noble cause, but everyone wants to save the planet or make the world a better place.
You need to go deeper to understand the root of the why you exist.
In this case the company exists to save the planet. The next question I asked was to understand the values the founders hold near and dear to their heart, which prompted the desire to save the planet.
After several rounds of answers, and further digging in, it became clear that what he valued as the founder and CEO are respect for people, respect for the environment, and a moral obligation to future generation.
The company wants to save the planet, because it cares about people, it cares about the environment, and it feels a moral obligation to future generations.
“Your values give more weight and meaning to the why you exist.”
In the case of this company, it does not matter if you care about sustainable energy or not. If you care about people, the planet, your children, and their children — you can connect to what this company is doing and will want to participate.
“Your values attract like-minded employees, partners, and customers, turning them into a community.”
This brings me to another important reason for understanding not only the why you exist as a business, but the values that pushed you into creating your business. Your focus becomes about enabling emotionally charged experiences, not selling a transaction.
Building your company as a people centric business culture will outlast, outcompete, and outperform anything else because you end up creating a community of interest with your employees, partners, vendors, investors and customers.
It’s a basic human need and desire to belong. Historically people looked to civic groups, religion, or other organized efforts to achieve this basic need to belong. Today, companies who understand the importance of creating community, understand that people still have a desire to belong and be part of something greater than themselves.
“When you shift your business mindset to people serving people, and instead of building a customer base you focus on building community, nothing can stop you.”
The future of work is people centric. In order to attract the right people, you have to be clear on your own values, and how those values compel you to do what you do, day in and day out.
This self-awareness can further help you define the purpose for your business because the purpose or the why your business exists, becomes tied to your values.
“The people centric approach to building a brand focused on values, guarantees you a strategic competitive advantage.”
You simply can’t compete long term with values like respect, integrity, honesty, abundance, acceptance, accountability, achievement, adventure, appreciation, autonomy, balance, benevolence, calmness, charity, cheerfulness, commitment, compassion, cooperation, collaboration, consistency, contribution, creativity, credibility, curiosity, decisiveness, dedication, dependability, diversity, empathy, encouragement, enthusiasm, ethics, excellence, fairness, family, friendship, flexibility, generosity, grace, flexibility, happiness, humility, inclusiveness, joy, kindness, leadership, love, loyalty, mindfulness, passion, proactivity professionalism, punctuality, recognition, relationships, reliability, resilience, resourcefulness, responsibility, responsiveness, security, stability, teamwork, thankfulness, thoughtfulness, trustworthiness, usefulness, wisdom, empowerment, and freedom.
The future of business is people focused based on values that create a lasting and fulfilling sense of community.