Gestalt: Coopetition vs attrition — it’s about the customer!
by Leeya Hendricks (@LeeyaHendricks) Increasingly fierce competition forces companies to become more creative and flexible in giving customers exactly what they demand — and to perform better and faster than your biggest competition.
A major recent announcement by my organisation brought an extreme form of customer-centricity home to me: the need for competitive partnerships when it’s in the best interests of the customer. When we launched a joint solution and collaborative partnership with a long-standing competitor, we did so to gain competitive advantage over a larger competitor and rival. It’s not simply a response to the power of competition; more importantly, it recognises the power of the customer to take their business elsewhere.
More, better, faster
Creating a partnership with customers (and, yes, even competitors) will help keep your organisation focused on making good decisions and enable you to harness the power and drive to overcome the ups and downs we’ve come to expect today.
In short, partnering with both competitors and customers is your firm’s chance to better anticipate what your customers need, even before they know it.
Leading the charge
It’s important to reconnect with the fact that only corporate leaders have the means and influence to change an organisation’s make-up, design new strategies and steer it in a new direction. Therefore, it’s vital that leaders be in regular and direct contact with customers (and remain aware of the need to identify possible competitive partnerships).
Next up, it’s important to realise that the more you do for customers to differentiate yourself from the competition, the harder it is to find the line that separates you from them.
You are, in fact, integrating yourself into your customer’s operations and becoming virtually integral to their success.
Virtual integration: how does it work?
Many companies, notably manufacturers, strive to become virtual companies today, owning only the brand and the customer and no industry-specific capital assets to the ultimate benefit of every member of this extended supply chain.
Virtual integration forces a move from the ‘built-in’ vertical integration of traditional manufacturers — where supplier-customer relationships are arms-length and adversarial — to an environment based on closer relationships and ‘negotiated sourcing’.
Here, non-core activities are outsourced by the manufacturer and collaborative partnerships with the customer are normal, creating an ecosystem where customers co-create and see the results and benefits of offerings.
Calculated risk & reward
Ultimately, the objective is to ensure your customers get the best value from your offering, and if partnering with them (or your competitor to go up against a rival) will achieve the best outcomes for your customers, then taking a calculated and innovative strategic risk is the way to go!
Leeya Hendricks (@LeeyaHendricks) is a designated chartered marketer, global marketing strategist, digital driver and a Women in Tech leader. She holds a BA degree in fine arts, a BA honours degree in brand marketing management, an MBA in business management and is completing her PhD in management sciences, focusing on the customer and business transformation. She is now director of customer first marketing at ORACLE UKI, responsible for driving customer success through customer advocacy, and building strategic partnerships focused on emerging technology and the changed customers’ buying behaviour. Leeya contributes the monthly column “Gestalt”, about putting customers first for sustainable business success, to MarkLives.