Vennli was founded on the belief that growth results when the customer’s voice drives decision-making, and our software provides an engine for organizations to make this happen.
Sometimes this can represent a paradigm shift within a business as the entire organization begins to think in customer-focused ways.
Seeing as I work every day with organizations going through this transformation, it’s probably not surprising that it’s impacted how I think about other parts of my life as well.
I’ve even started to view my dating life through Vennli-colored glasses. (Yes, this may be a sign I need to take a vacation, but hear me out.)
Life comes down to choices. Customers make choices about which products or services to buy. Organizations make choices about the growth of their business. And… single folks make choices about who to date.
Therefore, a winning strategy comes down to determining how to impact choice. It’s been said that all’s fair in love and war… so let’s take a look at what a strategy model can teach us about romance.
I’m a single guy, and, therefore, much of my personal life is filled with the search for that special someone. As with all things, knowledge is the key to success.
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I know what I look for in a relationship… but I’ve honestly never asked my dates what they value in me. Just thinking about doing that makes me shudder. (Actually, the organizations Vennli partners with have often avoided asking their customers about their value proposition because of a similar anxiety, but that’s a topic for another day!)
But, in the name of science and entertainment (and potential future matrimonial bliss!), I’ll work through my anxiety and dig into this further.
1. Determining who is my “customer�?
Despite what my mom may believe, I’m not everyone’s cup of tea. Just like companies can’t be all things for all customers, I need to determine my ideal customer and target my efforts there. This takes a little self-reflection, but I’ve learned a bit along the way about who I am searching for.
2. Analyzing the customer choice
With the knowledge of who my “customer�? is, I now need to understand the choice they are making and how they make it.
When deciding to go on a first date with me, what are the competing alternatives available to these ladies? Another charming, well-groomed, interested bachelor? Or watching the latest season of Orange is the New Black on Netflix with some girlfriends? When I understand the choice being made, I can consider how to position the value I bring vs. the alternatives available.
Next is understanding how my “customer�? makes her decision. In other words, “what women want.�? Yikes. OK, I’m no expert here. But if I can better understand the elements that are relevant to her decision, I can better understand if we’re a good fit.
In other words, if I were to draw a circle of the “value�? a potential date is looking for, and a circle for the “value�? I provide, is there an overlap?
For example, perhaps she’s looking for someone with a good sense of humor, similar values, work ethic, college degree, solid employment, no criminal record, and active lifestyle. Or maybe she’s looking for someone who likes to watch the same types of movies, can fit in with her group of friends, gets along with his family, and has a certain “je ne sais quoi�? about him.
Then, the next question is how the value I provide compares to that of any competing alternatives. Am I more entertaining than a Netflix marathon? Do I win over the other guy who asked her out? Why or why not?
Mirror Mirror: Internal Analysis
Just like with the organizations we work with, my first step is to engage in some introspection. How do I perform on these factors that impact my customer’s choice? How do I think I compare to my competition?
This may be a good exercise to do over a glass of whiskey around New Year’s Eve, but you gotta be honest with yourself.
Getting the Real Deal: External Analysis
Then, (gulp), it’s time talk to “customers.�? In other words, to understand how I’m doing, I need to get some honest feedback from potential or actual dates I’ve had.
Now, I’ll be honest, I haven’t sent a survey out to all my past dates. But, since working at Vennli, I’ve started asking some open-ended questions to better understand the choices being made. Maybe not on the very first date, but I’m talking about things like:
- “What are your biggest priorities in your life right now?�?
- "What challenges you?�?
- “What’s most important to you in a potential partner?�?
- “Right away, I was attracted to your smile and sense of humor. What first interested you about me?�?
This has been an interesting experience for me. While I’ve never been shy, I haven’t intentionally tried to uncover this type of information before, but it’s been eye-opening. There is something to the power of asking open-ended questions and really listening. (All women are now rolling their eyes.)
I don’t want to come across as a player here, but everyone knows that early on in a relationship there are a lot of unknowns, and you need to have a plan for addressing them.
Again, this is very much like my client organizations. When you better understand your customer and how they make choices, you can create strategies to better position yourself in your “market.�?
When I have better insight into my potential partners, not only can I better understand if they are ideal for me, but I can also understand ways to highlight my “competitive advantage�? – the unique value I bring to a relationship.
By engaging in continuous customer conversation (i.e. continuing to ask my customer targeted questions to understand their decision-making), I can adapt my strategy as things evolve.
Finally, I can also continue on my path of self-improvement. Are there things I can work on to build my “green zone�? (my competitive advantage)? Just like for organizations, growth is not an event, it’s a never-ending process.
Finding Romance in 3 Circles
You get the idea here. When you focus on a customer choice being made, you have a very targeted approach to developing a winning strategy. I have yet to “win�? the heart of my perfect match, but I hold out hope.
And, I probably need to see to that vacation.
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