know thyself (a painful process)
In order to engage your market, you must know yourself as your market knows you. In other words, you must see yourself through the eyes of your customer!
This is the fundamental principle of marketing, but it is often ignored (or not fully executed) in marketing and business development endeavors. The reason for this omission? In order to truly put this principle into practice, you must instill humility as a core competency. Seeing yourself as others see you can be a painful process, and most of us do a pretty good job of developing protective mechanisms to shield ourselves from the criticism of others.
This shielding allows us to cultivate a positive self-image that is not challenged by those outside of our chosen circle(s) of influence. We don't like the truth to find us--rather, we like to find what we are looking for (and often do), and then call it the truth.
However, sometimes the shields go down (and often not by our choice). The shields can be taken down, for example, by a catastrophe--when we are forced by a disaster to confront what we really are.
It is the strong individual, and the strong company, that brings the shields down voluntarily in order to not only stave off disaster in advance, but to rather put oneself in a position of strength and then create a perpetual strengthening exercise (that is hopefully paired with continuous growth).
This is one clear area of life in which business maturity and personal maturity go hand in hand. Cultivating the ability to hear and understand the viewpoint of the other party, in both personal and business relationships, is essential to creating a strong bond. That ability requires humility.
My marketing philosophy has three parts, which require at least the willingness to embrace corporate humility as a critical underlying principle. Those three parts generate a very practical process for marketing and business development. This subject material will be covered in future posts.
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