I spotted a story that said more than 90% of U.S. companies are changing their existing business models.
That seemed a pretty high number, so I decided to find out more and read the report behind the story.
KPMG, an accounting firm, surveyed 900 companies and discovered that 93% were changing their business models in response to “a confluence of triggers.”
These triggers include “a tipping point in globalization, a major slowdown in Western economies, significant shifts in technology and energy costs, and the challenges of regulatory compliance.”
But the single biggest factor in this transformation is a change in customer demand.
As the report concluded: “Customers need solutions, not specific products or services. Business transformation needs to be aligned with customers’ needs – in fact, it needs to anticipate them.”
If you’re changing your business model – most companies call it “transformation” – to serve your customers, then you need to change your communications model to reach your customers.
Ask yourself, do your customers only know what you make? If so, you may look like your competitors. You have to tell your customers what you know, and why what you know is important to them.
That’s called thought leadership. And because your customers want solutions to their problems, establishing thought leadership with your customers is more important than ever to your success.
But thought leadership has changed in ways that may not be well understood.
Thought leadership is no longer telling people what you know. That does create awareness of your company, but awareness is no longer enough to inspire customers to respond to you.
Rather, thought leadership now is telling people what they need to know to succeed. That creates separation between you and your competitors and gives customers reasons to respond to you.
Thought leadership is about establishing strategic positioning through content that you create – using videos, blogs, infographics, social media, news media and more – about what you know and why it is so important to everyone who is important to you, starting of course with customers. Here is one example.
Manufacturing is enjoying a renaissance in the United States.
If you are a manufacturer, what has your company done that has enabled it to participate in that renaissance? How have you become more productive and efficient? How have you changed your culture to become a company of problem solvers? How have you attracted the talent necessary to that culture?
Moreover, what has your company done that is enabling your customers to succeed in growing sales both here and abroad? How have you identified and then solved their problems? How did you create innovative approaches to their problems? How do you know what new problems customers will face?
The answers to these and other questions can be extraordinarily useful to customers.
In providing such thought leadership, you also demonstrate these messages about your company:
- Your company continuously creates innovations to serve every one of your customers.
- Your growth from helping customers solve problems makes you attractive to investors.
- Your culture of problem-solving makes you a magnet for finding and keeping top talent.
- And more.
If it is true that your customers want solutions – not products and services – then your competitors understand this, too. Why should customers work with you? Tell them what they need to know.