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You Gotta Serve Somebody

September 2, 2010

I am a reader. I love to read. Have my whole life. I am in love with my Kindle and the Kindle app on my iPhone. I am never away from the current book I am reading. I usually read a “fun” book and some sort of business book going at the same time. I just finished “The Pixar Touch” and “The Marrowbone Marble Company” as fun reads. Let me know if you have any recommendations for fun reads.

As my current business book I am reading “Inside Drucker’s Brain” by Jeffery Krames (a John Mays recommendation). In case you didn’t know, Peter Drucker is the forefather of all modern management techniques. It is a really great book that challenges your thinking on business and management.

One of the quotes from Drucker that appears early in the book has been rattling around in my head since I read it – “There is only one valid definition of business purpose: to create a customer.” Hum…that is still really challenging.

Have you asked yourself who your customer is? No matter what business you’re in you have multiple layers of customers. Sometimes it is the end-user, sometimes it is the people between you and your end-user. Who is the customer for our radio department? What about our internet marketing? Booking? What about for an artist?

When I look at getting a CD into retail and how many people are between me and the final purchaser it is pretty daunting. When I start the process of selling in a CD I have to start at my distributor. I have to introduce them to the artist and the project. They are my customer. Then they turn around and approach the buyers at retail, be it Family Christian Stores, Lifeway or iTunes and Amazon. Each of those retailers have a buyer that makes the decision on what and how many to bring into their stores. The national chains then have to turn around and get the local markets to understand the release and where to stock it. And this is before the customer walks in and says “what’s new?”

Who is my customer in that scenario?

What about radio? Who are the customers at radio? The music directors in each market? Or is it the listener?

If you’re an artist out on the road, who is your customer? Is it the church that brought you in? Is it the fan in the seats? I know it feels icky to think of the people listening to you as a customer but really that is what they are. They have come to you to meet a need. Are you meeting it?

Then the question that really makes the discussion hard, how do you create a customer? I don’t like looking at my distribution system and think of them as a customer, I want to think of them as a partner. But as one of many people trying to get their attention I need to serve them like they are a customer. I have got to give them what they want from me. If I don’t serve them well, someone else will. Competition is fierce. I have to serve my customer well. So do you. If I don’t they go someplace else. That could be do a promotion with another record label, add a different song at radio or go to a different artist.

Serving your customer creates a connection with them. It is the beginning of the relationship with them. It all starts with great service.

If you get great service at an auto mechanic, you will go back. Not only will you go back but you are telling people about that place. Or at a restaurant, bookshop or dentist office. People love to talk about what they love.

The one thing I do know is the key to making a customer happy is serving them well. I know you gotta serve somebody. Who are you gonna serve today?

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