Recently a friend inquired, in very general terms, “how we do what we do” as a business owner? In a moment of clarity, I offered the following response:
We only hire the best talent we can find.
We delight our customers.
We charge what we are worth.
We use technology when ever possible to be efficient, but are careful never to replace human interaction.
I’ve reflected upon this philosophy several times since. These answers still ring true to me, in regards to what our company values. Reflecting on these four values, here are some notes I assembled on each.
Hiring the Best Talent
The way we value the human touch in the workplace has ebbed and flowed over the last few centuries. In the industrial age, we broke down the delivery of goods and services into individual measurements. We distilled complex manufacturing into individual work units. We took the thinking out of work. Things once crafted by skilled craftspeople were suddenly manufactured. There are several industries that still thrive on this approach to work.
But the fact is, professional services industries — accounting, lawyers, marketing, medicine and others — have developed a poor reputation of hiring throngs of free (interns), low cost labor (recent college graduates) or contractors to saddle with the grunt work (research, drafting briefs, auditing, making coffee) of managing client work.
Recently there has been a cultural shift in the workforce regarding one’s attitude toward work. Employees no longer wish to be a cog in the machine. Rather, employees want their work to mean something. They are also increasingly interested in how their contribution affects outcomes. They are tired of micromanagement, and they are simultaneously seeing independence and autonomy while also desiring a collegial and rewarding workplace culture. These are the types of people that we like to hire. Cultivated in their craft, with an eye towards the final product — independent-minded, but not loners.
Hiring people that are a strong cultural fit, in addition to being skilled, reaps a valuable reward. Not only is it vital to employee loyalty (which decreases hiring costs), it also fosters stability, which then leads to greater client loyalty.
Delight the Customer
Customers have no shortage of choice. Providing good service is key to retaining clients. Fear of losing clients however, is uninspiring. Anybody who has ever started a business or changed jobs knows that in addition to making more money, what drives us is a better way of doing things. Whether it be doing things quicker, smarter or perhaps more human, we see market opportunities that we believe we can exploit. One of the the opportunities we are seizing at MKTNG is exceeding expectations and creating delighted customers. Nothing is more rewarding than putting out great work that you are proud of. Delighted customers, much more than just satisfied, are more than return customers. They are friends… and they can eventually become family.
We Charge What We Are Worth
Competing on price in the modern business climate most often results in slashed margins. Narrowing margins do not sustain businesses, especially those focused on talent and delighting customers. Competing primarily on price is a short sighted strategy. Competing in a marketplace that values great ideas, results, and value is a far better place to be. If you find your customers are first and foremost focused on cost, you’re in front of the wrong customers. By seeking out customers that value what we do, high quality work and lasting relationships, we are able to produce greater results over time than we would while working with clients focused on the costs of individual transactions.
We use technology whenever possible, to be efficient, but not to replace human interactions.
Technology is a powerful tool in business. It has becomes so pervasive in our lives, and we believe businesses should actually be cautioned where and how they use it. Our company embraces the use of technology. Our client files and our project management software are all in the cloud. This allows our team to be collocated, or geographically dispersed. It allows us to access our entire company through apps on our phones in addition to our laptops. Any coffee shop can become an office at moment’s notice. Technology keeps us lean and agile, while our competitors are stuck in their offices or chained to their desks. It reinforces our “out of office” culture and facilitates our work in the community.
In an effort to save time and money, many companies place technology on the front lines of their business, creating a barrier between their customers. This is where we draw the line. Technology should serve to improve and enhance the customer experience, not hinder it.
What makes companies in different industries successful varies. However, in service oriented industries, we see these as somewhat pivotal. What is most critical to your business?