Selling The Dream Part 2
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We've already outlined the first three criteria you need to test your product against to find out if it will connect with the public's imagination. Now here are the final four points to test it against:
- Choose the customer. There is a fundamental difference between a customer and a consumer. The consumer is a statistic, a hypothetical figure symbolizing millions of indistinct people who mechanically buy goods for their functional and utilitarian worth. A customer, on the other hand, is an identifiable individual, with a specific personality and highly selective and distinct tastes, who is emotionally bound to a company's creations. Being a consumer or a customer is a question of purchasing attitude. The same person could be both a customer and a consumer. After all, a company is only as worthy as its customers are.
- Choose a creator. To surprise your customers' imaginations, you must prophesy what they will want tomorrow and that inspiration must come from within the company. A company must develop, at all levels of the organization, a culture that actively promotes original experimentation and aesthetic research. For this to happen, it must hire creators who can lead the organization toward an original and recognizable company taste. Products and services cannot be revolutionary: Customers have to be ready for them. It's up to the creators to heed their aesthetic sensitivity in determining which dreams can become commercial successes.
- Support creators with a creative organization. Creators alone cannot create dreams. They can provide the vision and the inspiration, but a single person does not make dreams. Dreams are emotional experiences that require many ancillary activities performed by many gifted people. To create dreams, creators must be supported by a group of individuals with profound product knowledge who can crystallize the vision and the ideas into products and services that exalt the customers' desires. Creativity is the most important quality for achieving business success (or any type of success, for that matter), and companies selling dreams are key examples to which any type of industry should turn to learn how to enhance this most precious and scarce resource.
- Seize any possible chance to magnify the customer's perceived added value. Art, which appeals mostly to our emotions, is the foremost example of the maximization of added value: Consider the astronomical prices paid for some colors on a cheap canvas painted by a famous artist. Since a company that sells a dream is actually selling an experience rather that simply a product, it has several chances to influence its customers' perception of added value. To achieve long-lasting financial well-being, companies must welcome impulse and steer clear of typical short-term pressures form shareholders and analysts. A company must build a financial structure that allows risk-taking. The role of the financial manager should not be to help a company avoid risks, but rather to enable it to take the risks. With no risks, there are no dreams, since dreams, by definition, are never born of the norm.