Politics and Business
When customers vote positively with their wallets, we all win!
This week the whole world is watching the national elections in the United States.
Maybe it’s just that I’m getting older and more perceptive (or perhaps more cynical) but with each election cycle, voters seem increasingly to be voting against a given candidate rather than for the one that gets their vote. So much of campaigning these days is trying to convince voters why the competitor is a bad choice rather than making the case for why the candidate is a good choice. It’s sad. And I’m glad businesses, for the most part, don’t work that way.
Early in my voting life, I came to realize that it’s really hard for politicians to please most of the people. On many issues there are more than two positions, so whatever stand one takes, the politician will disappoint more than half the people. Even when issues are more clear cut, a politician may please a given voter on one topic, while disappointing that same voter on another. And if, on election day, more voters are displeased with you than they are with your opponent, then you lose. It’s a tough job!
Smart businesses, on the other hand, realize that they don’t need to please everyone. In fact, trying to be “all things to all people” is one of the hardest business strategies to pursue and one that is rarely (if ever) successful.
Successful businesses carefully select which customers they want to please and then focus all their attention on that subset. For most businesses, this is a very small minority of the overall total market. And while business leaders, especially entrepreneurs, are always looking for opportunities created when existing solutions poorly serve customers, businesses do best when they focus their marketing and personal pitches on the value that they create rather than on the shortcomings of their competitors.
Interestingly, while my perception is that political competition has become more negative with the least-disliked candidate winning, it seems that increasing visibility and accelerating innovation have caused business competition to be much more about being the “best” rather than the “lesser of two evils.”
And when customers feel really good about the choices they make in the marketplace, we all win!