What Business Are You Really In ?

I’ve been meaning to write this post for several weeks — but had other distractions.

A friend dropped by the office for a catch-up and was venting about his very frustrating relationship with his Sat TV content provider (DIRECTV).  Assaulted by ads for great monthly package deals, his own calls to them to renegotiate his package were met with “Sorry – those deals are for new customers only”.  Feeling de-valued as a long term (heretofore loyal) customer he had spent the weekend shopping for an alternative.  DIRECTV’s website states they are  “committed to delivering the best TV experience for you everyday”.  Where does making a loyal customer feel good about paying them “fairly” fit into that experience?  At least for this customer – what business are they really in?

About the same time I read an interview with an HBO executive where the discussion centered around content unbundling, stand-alone content platforms, the difficulties of getting consumers to pay for content and concerns about digital piracy and logon credential sharing.  I’m paraphrasing here but the gist of his response was “we’re in the addiction business”.  In other words, the primary concern was to get consumers addicted to the content — how they accessed it and and how or who paid for it was secondary.  Necessary sure — but secondary.

The different way these two “stories” resonated — reminded me that how we articulate what business we’re really in — to our employees, our customers, even our competitors — can and likely does make a huge difference in the way our teams think, behave and respond.

I read about a class action lawsuit in California brought against Uber — seemingly in response to complaints by taxi cab companies (and regulators) of them engaging in unregulated/unfair competition.  Uber — again paraphrasing — essentially rebutted the complaint by saying they were not operating a competing taxi alternative but were instead a lead generation app that connects buyers and sellers.    They view their business entirely differently than I had viewed them before reading this article.  Kind of like eBay or Ticketmaster?  Again interesting.

Move forward a few weeks — and I was having a discussion with my favorite restaurant partners about what makes them successful.  Expecting comments about food quality, service excellence, menu uniqueness, etc — the quick response was “we’re in the delight the customer business”.  Smart lads these.

What business are you really in?  What would your employees or your customers say if I asked this question?

Cheers.  DC

About dougcurling

a compassionate capitalist
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1 Response to What Business Are You Really In ?

  1. Terry Corley says:

    Great article Doug!!

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