You.  You are the reason for this post.

The business that you now lead began as an idea.  The two words, ‘What if’ were at the beginning of virtually every discussion you had. The concept began to take shape as you shared the idea with more and more people.  Each conversation greeted with enthusiasm provided the confirmation needed for you to step out in faith.  The courage it took to take that first step is inspiring. Every step you took afterward was the first step in a new direction for an entire industry.

You watched over each phase of development. You remember the first signed contract as if it were yesterday.  Watching your client list grow from 10 to 100 was a great source of pride that first quarter.  Over the next year, pride was replaced with the realization that you needed to hire someone in order to keep up with demand for your services.  Since that first hire, you have added more people to grow your business in order to help your customers grow theirs.  Even in the infancy of the company you knew that it wasn’t about you.  Everything you did was focused on creating a benefit for your customer.

Your company has weathered the storms of surging competition, technological changes, and economic downturns. You attribute your success to your unwavering commitment to serve your customers. Is this an earth-shattering realization?  No.  The earth begins to shake because you actually do it.

Today, your company has grown past your wildest imagination.  You are at the point where you are no longer simply responding to growth – you are preparing for it.  The idea that once seemed like a novelty is now an expected tenet of every successful business.  Your new marketing company pitches you on the idea of positioning you as the industry leader.  They want your advertising to focus on how you are the pioneer; that you are the largest company in the country.   Their impressive ad campaign is built on how companies should do business with you because of the global impact of your company.

But you are wise.  You know the pitfalls that await the company that shifts from ‘you’ to ‘we’.

It is a subtle change. Those on the inside will scarcely notice it.  ‘We are number one in our industry.’ ‘We have the largest inventory.’ ‘We are the best, and successful companies deserve the best.’  Campaigns like that make companies feel good about all they have accomplished. After all, there is a certain swagger associated with being the best. The thought process behind campaigns like this is simple. Once ‘they’ realize how great ‘we’ are, ‘they’ will want to do business with ‘us’ all the more.

Your team loves it, but it doesn’t sit well with you. You know a self-centered advertising campaign will project the same image about your products and services. Your company, your product, your on-hold advertising program were all built and all successful based on the power of focusing on your customer and their needs. Your future success will be built on the same foundation.

You smile.  You know it is not now, nor has it ever been about you.  It has always been about your customer.  You thank the marketing company for their input and look across the table at your team. You begin a conversation in the same way you did at the beginning – when this company was simply an idea. ‘What if our advertising focused solely on our customers and their needs? We could create a unified message across our TV, radio, and billboards all the way through to our on-hold advertising program.’

You know the benefit of building from the customer’s perspective.  After all, that is the cornerstone of your company.  Both are based on the most powerful and intimate word in advertising.


Tom McTee, Super-Genius

Tom McTee