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b_17.jpgThe B-17 was a powerful bomber whose contributions to winning the Second World War were legendary. The aircraft was known affectionately as the “Flying Fortress” because of its durability and firepower, and it to this day holds a special place in the hearts of its manufacturer, the Boeing company.

As stated in the History Channel documentary, War Planes of World War II, however, the idea of dubbing the planes “Flying Fortresses” didn’t come from its designers. Upon touring the Boeing plant and witnessing the first B-17s roll off the assembly line, “An awestruck reporter called the aircraft a ‘Flying Fortress,’ and the name stuck.” The B-17 stood out from the B-24, B-25, B29, B-Whichever from then on thanks to this nickname. Its identity, and its value proposition, had been developed in a simple but powerful observation.

The marketplace, or rather the CUSTOMER has all the marketing answers we need! The customer can help us design the product, its delivery, its evolution, and can tell us how to market it to other customers like them. The challenge we have is to open the channels whereby the customer can share whatever thoughts, ideas, concerns, and then be sure we listen, we act on what we hear, and we keep listening! 

 

Laptop.jpgThere are a growing number of die-hard Apple fans who have found a neat way to have their cake and eat it too – Inexpensively!

What they do is buy an old PC and then switch the operating system to their beloved Apple platform, a move that has apparently become a good deal easier since Apple now allows Windows to be run on its platform. I don’t fully understand how all that works, but the net result is the customer ends up with an operational Mac for less than 1/2 the price.  

When investors asked some time ago why Apple won’t offer a lower-cost option, Apple president Steve Jobs replied “We don’t know how to make a $500 computer that’s not a piece of junk, and our DNA will not let us ship that.”

Bravo, Mr. Jobs!

Steve Jobs understands that rather than worry about how to offer something for every market segment, their overall brand value lies in being able to deliver a quality product at a premium price for the right customer segment.  That way the customer can depend on the quality of the brand and of the value of the investment.

Before you try to offer product choices for too many market segments, put a pencil to it. Determine what the cost to your brand for serving new market segments less efficiently than the ones you currently serve could be. You may find that the benefits of supporting a sure thing greatly outweigh gambling on trying to serve everyone. You might be better off putting that investment toward improving your higher-margin products.  When customers ask why you won’t provide a “cheaper” offering, tell them how you and Steve Jobs believe it’s for their own good!

“Diversification is for the ignorant.” – Warren Buffett

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