What does it mean to be market-driven?

The DC Metro (subway) runs til midnight, even on game days. "Oh, the game ran long? Too bad. The metro closed at 12:00." Most people would be glad to relieve the congestion and save a little on parking by taking the metro--but not if they have to miss the end of the game.

On United, the young flight attendants try to be funny; the old ones gave up long ago. You can tell those who have been flying for a while. They are just sick of the job and it's obvious to all of us. Yet this weekend I was surprised and delighted to use my miles to get a free flight to Nashville. I booked online for the following day! Amazing. On one leg, they upgraded me to first class (if there can be first class on an Embraer puddle-jumper)--still, it was a nice treat courtesy of the gate agent. But once on the plane, I discovered that all four of the overhead bins were filled with the flight attendants' luggage.

I guess that's it in a nutshell. Being market-driven is realizing who the customer is (hint: it's not the flight attendants) and seeing the business and its products from the customer's point of view.

How many customer-facing people don't know or care who the customer is? Most fast-food servers don't care... except those at Starbucks and often at Subway. Most airline workers don't seem to know or care who the customer is... altho maybe JetBlue does. Teachers and professors? Do they know that the students are customers? (Your favorite teacher does!). Doctors and nurses know... and HMOs don't.

Companies and marketing departments who think that sales people are the customer don't know who the customer is.

Who is your customer?

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson was a founding instructor at Pragmatic Institute, a role he held for more than 15 years before he left to start Under10 Playbook. In his return to Pragmatic Institute, Steve supports the complete learning path for product teams, ensuring they are fully armed for success. 

Over the course of his career, Steve has helped thousands of companies and tens of thousands of product professionals implement product management processes. He has worked in the high-tech arena since 1981, rising through the ranks from product manager to chief marketing officer. Steve has experience in technical, sales and marketing management positions at companies that specialize in both hardware and software. In addition, he is an author, speaker and advisor on product strategy and product management.


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