If you’re like many of our customers, you compete every day to find new customers, and keep and grow the value of your existing customers. Welcome to What’s Your Edge? – a series of VisionEdge Marketing podcasts dedicated to helping you use data, analytics, process, and measurement to create a competitive edge for you and a superior customer experience. This is Laura Patterson and in this episode, we will leverage learnings from the movie industry to help ensure that your organization’s products and services (solutions) succeed and enable growth, or in the vernacular of the movie industry achieve blockbuster status.

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Let’s begin with a story. Very early in my 14-year career at Motorola, I participated in a management development program (MDP) under the auspices of Gary Daniels, who at that time ran the Microcontroller Division.  Over the years, you’ve probably heard me mention Gary and how much I admired his leadership and appreciated his mentorship.  Something you may not know is that his father ran a movie theater. In one of our first MDP meetings he asked this rhetorical question, “how do you get people to come to your movie theater?” He didn’t wait for a reply, he said, “show a film people want to see.”  His follow up question was, “how do you get them to come back?” He said, “make sure their experience met and exceeded their expectations, from the bathrooms to the concession stand, to the lighting, and so on.”

The movie industry, like the microcontroller industry, and very likely your industry, is a competitive and constantly evolving landscape. To succeed, movie theaters need the studios to produce high-quality content that is in line with what audiences want to see. This same concept applies to organizations of all kinds. To achieve blockbuster status, you need your product and service development teams to create solutions customers want and the service quality to boost customer experience and keep them coming back for more.

Use Data to Make Sure You Don’t Produce a Flop

How do you decide on the right solution concept, deliver it the way customers want, with the right services wrapped around it? You decide with data. Movie studios conduct extensive market and customer research to gain insights into audience trends. Movie producers use the data to determine what types of movies to make and which audience segments are most likely to pay to see it. While not every movie is a blockbuster and some may flop, this is a critical step in the movie production process.

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Organizations must do the same. Armed with customer and market research you are more likely to understand your prospective customers and develop solutions that meet their needs. It’s not enough to simply create a solution and hope that people will use it. You need to be proactive and understand what your customers want and what will make them choose your offering over alternatives. Yes, you might get lucky without the data.  And while data won’t guarantee market success, if your offer doesn’t solve your customers’ problem(s) or enable them to capitalize on an opportunity, the solution will be a flop. This is why it’s important to make the investment to understand your customers and what they want from your product or service. This is a good start, but there’s more to making a blockbuster hit.

5 Ways to Succeed at the Customer-Centricity Box Office

When it comes to making a successful movie, tips abound. Let’s walk through five customer-centric tips for being successful in the movie business that are just as applicable to every organization.

  1. Tastes change. Markets evolve. Stay relevant. In writer Cameron Crowe’s conversation with legendary film maker, Billy Wilder, he recounted this statement by Billy: “audiences are fickle.” As a result, the movie industry is continuously adapting and evolving in order to stay relevant.  The same applies to every industry. Very likely your market is always in flux.  It is vital to continuously innovate and improve solutions to remain relevant to your customers, provide customer satisfaction, and ideally stay ahead of the competition.
  2. Brand mattersperformance management, business performance management, accountability, effectiveness, performance measurement, growth, product marketing, product management, category ownership, customer acquisition, customer experience, customer retention, customer loyalty, customer insights, service quality, Go-to-Market, strategyConsider this, 97% of independent feature films fail to turn a profit. Having brand recognition inherently gives the “big-six” film studios: Disney, 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros, NBCUniversal, Sony Pictures, and Paramount Pictures a competitive advantage over other studios. The films backed by these brands tend to have greater success in terms of profit. This is why every organization needs to take creating and investing in a brand seriously. A strong recognizable brand that delivers on the customer promise enables an organization to stand out from the competition. This includes elements such as having a clear and consistent brand message, value proposition, a recognizable logo and visual identity, and a strong online presence. Research suggests that having a recognizable brand increases the perceived value of your products and provides a platform for the introduction of new solutions.
  3. People prefer the familiar. The mere exposure or familiarity effect refers to the phenomenon by which people tend to develop a preference for things or people that are familiar to them. Research has shown that repeated exposure increases familiarity. This explains why the movie industry tends to produce sequels and remakes. These films are often popular because they’re familiar and easy to market. This is why it’s smart business to invest in creating familiarity for your organization, brand, and solutions. This is one reason why organizations invest in solution line extensions and capitalize on customer experience. While there may be some variation, it is part of a familiar line that suggests a safe choice. Of course, new and innovative offers are important as well and crucial to keeping customers interested and customer satisfaction high.
  4. Building it isn’t enough. “If you build it, they will come”, sounded great in Field of Dreams, but it has not proven to be true when it comes to solution market success.  Most research suggests that it rarely works. In the movie industry, a film’s success depends highly on its marketing and promotion. The same is true for your organization. No matter how great your product or service is, if you don’t effectively market and promote it, it won’t reach its full potential. This is why it’s essential to have a well-thought-out Go-to-Market strategy and growth plan.
  5. It must be easy to get a seat. performance management, business performance management, accountability, effectiveness, performance measurement, growth, marketing, category ownership, customer acquisition, customer experience, customer retention, customer loyalty, customer insights, quality, Go-to-Market, strategy, customers, customer-centricDeciding what movie or solutions to make, then producing and marketing it is just the beginning.  Movie studios must have a strong distribution network so audiences can see the film whether from the comfort of their living room or a seat in the movie house.  Your organization needs a way to reach your customers and build customer experience. Whether you’re selling your solution online, through a retailer or reseller, or via direct agents or salespeople, you must have a reliable and efficient system in place that ensures your product is easily accessible to customers, therefore stabilizing customer satisfaction. Easy is the operative word in today’s competitive environment.

Prioritize Service Quality for Improving Customer Retention and Lifetime Value

We cannot leave this episode without addressing the second question posed by Gary, securing repeat business from customers.  Making it easy is one critical factor. The other is service quality. Service quality plays a key role in ensuring customer satisfaction and loyalty, both in the movie industry and in your organization. performance management, business performance management, accountability, effectiveness, performance measurement, growth, product marketing, product management, category ownership, customer acquisition, customer experience, customer retention, customer loyalty, customer insights, service quality, Go-to-Market, strategy, customers, customer-centric

Gary’s father knew that movie theater customers expected a clean, comfortable, and enjoyable experience. He understood that the quality of service greatly impacts the customer’s decision to return. This includes factors such as the friendliness and professionalism of staff, the speed and efficiency of the concessions stand, and the overall atmosphere of the theater. The same is true for every organization. The quality of service you provide greatly influences whether a customer will return and continue to do business with you. Customers expect prompt and effective solutions to their problems, knowledgeable and helpful customer service representatives, and a positive overall experience. Failing to meet these expectations can lead to negative reviews, decreased customer satisfaction, and a decrease in repeat business. Therefore, prioritize service quality and continuously strive to improve it, to retain your customers, grow customer lifetime value, and increase customer satisfaction.

What Will You Measure to Recognize Box Office Success?

Our episode wouldn’t be complete without touching on the subject of measurement. Measuring the success is essential for both the movie industry and businesses to understand performance and identify areas for improvement. In the movie industry, box office revenue and audience reception are two key measures of a film’s success. The box office revenue provides a financial measure, while audience reception, such as movie reviews and ratings, are non-financial measures that give an indication of how well the film was received by audiences. For movie theaters, measures include seat occupancy, concession sales, and customer satisfaction.

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There are variety of success measures for any organization and its solution, such as adoption, market share, category ownership, share of wallet, and customer lifetime value along with win/loss ratio, referral rate, and overall revenue and profitability. How your organization will declare success impacts which measures matter and are worthy to include in your performance management dashboard.

Circling back to Gary’s point, whether it’s a movie or a semiconductor, having a product or service that customers want and use is the first key to producing a blockbuster. Just as movie studios must produce high-quality content that is in line with audience trends, every organization must understand their target market and develop solutions that meet their needs. Continuously innovating, having a strong brand that delivers on the promise, and effective Marketing and Sales are all key success components. By following these principles, your organization can increase its chances of market success and ensure your solutions are adopted and achieve blockbuster status and a category leader, or in the case of Motorola microcontrollers, becomes industry standards and category owners.

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