And your audience is queen.
“Any customer can have a car painted any colour so long as it’s black.”
So proclaimed Henry Ford, the founder of Ford Motor Company. It was a slogan widely used in the early 20th century and refers to the assembly line method of production, now considered one of the greatest technological innovations of the industrial era. Black paint was used in Ford’s day because it was cheap and dried fast, so cars could be assembled more quickly than otherwise. So, no, the intention was not to please nor meet the expectations of their customers.
But it’s now quite a different world. The world has changed, and so have customers. No longer do buyers have to accept what is imposed on them by industry. Today, the customer is king, and the customer is always right. So if you want to succeed, and prosper, you’re just going to have to deal with that.
Yes, it all sounds like such a cliché. (Actually, the word cliché is indeed a cliché!)
If you want to make it in today’s world, you have to listen to the customer.
And so: have you been ‘studying’ the audiences for your presentations?
Because if you really want to succeed in business, you’re going to have to pay attention to your customers on a regular basis, otherwise they’ll simply go elsewhere. The fact that Data Popular Research Institute exists is a good example. Data Popular has conducted endless research and surveys to map customer behaviour, mainly those customers at the “top of the pyramid.” And this is because people’s behaviour is constantly changing. In other words, Data Popular helps customers so that their dreams, expectations, needs and ambitions are met and fulfilled, yesterday, today and tomorrow, and their frustrations averted. The work also helps companies find out who are the customers behind the numbers. In this sense, the research can define what products should be offered, what features should be explored and what “languages” should be used to attract the attention of the customer. You name it, the research is there. And what applied yesterday probably won’t be relevant tomorrow.
Nestlé is a good example. It’s a well-known brand all over the world. It’s a solid company making products that are widely known. Nestlé has become a synonym for quality. But Nestlé knows that being successful in the past does not necessarily mean being successful in the future. So, last February the company announced that by the end of 2015 all artificial flavours and dyes will be removed from more than 250 products manufactured in the US. According to the Swiss company, this decision was made after market research by Nielsen, indicated that customers prefer food free of additives. In fact, more than 60% of the American people polled said artificial colours and flavours are becoming a factor when it comes to deciding which foods to buy.
Today, in fact, a Google search will produce the names of numerous companies that have been adapting their processes, products and/or services in order to meet the most recent needs and desires of consumers ( Hershey plans to use simpler ingredients in its products). And these companies will continue to adapt to whatever needs arise. Call it natural selection for the modern age. Charles Darwin must be proud! So you’d better embrace the changes or find yourself extinct!
By the way: From the 1970s on, “Fordism” began breaking down. Buyers started to demand cars with more quality and options. In 1980, Toyota began producing cheaper and better cars. As a result, the traditional assembly line made its exit and and Lean Manufacturing (the Toyota Production System) appeared. It goes without saying that Ford was smart enough to adapt to the requirements of customers when the handwriting was on the wall.
But what does that have to do with your corporate communications, and especially your presentations? Well they happen to be 100%-related. If you’re still making presentations using classic structures like “Who we are – Mission – Vision – Values – Our products/services – Our offices – Our Awards – Contact details,” then you have probably tasted the bitter flavor of bored audience responses during your presentations. And chances are you didn’t even understand why.
To explain: Classic structures like those don’t take the customer into account. That is, the audience. They just employ an awful stack of information about a business that an audience is confronted with absorbing. But these people did not come to hear you blah blah blah about yourself.
They have made time for you because they want to know what you can do to improve their lives.
Benefit is the keyword here!
If this is the case, then what does the first step have to be when you’re sitting down to develop a to presentation? A presentation that can truly benefit your audience and therefore stimulate better connection to and engagement with the people in front of you? Well, that first step is to do what big companies and brands are all doing these days to adapt their products, services, offers…. That is, to develop a strong communication strategy, you need to study your audience in detail.
This does not mean knowing “who they are.” What you need to know is what are your prospective audiences’ expectations, frustrations, needs, prejudices about what you’re going to tell them. If you know these things, you can find ways to prepare presentations and speeches that are aligned with the audience profile you’ve developed. You can show an audience that you know how they feel and that what you have to offer is just what they need. Bingo!
The world has changed, customers have changed. And so have the audiences for your presentations. See, nobody likes the “look how good I am” speech anymore. People want to hear something like, “I understand you, I know what you need, and that is why I have brought something here today that can benefit you.” Think about it. THIS is the new “natural selection” process of the world of presentations!
So, if the customer is the king, the presentation audience is queen.
So pay attention or you court disaster. You don’t want to end up the jester. Or, even worse – beheaded!