Thursday, March 20, 2008

News item: a media company grows by studying its customers

In March's Harvard Business Review, Richard Harrington, CEO of Thomson Corporation, discusses how the large financial-media company reinvented its strategy ("Transforming Strategy One Customer At A Time" - free link). With his coauthor, Anthony Tjan of the Parthenon Group, Harrington shows how Thomson, by changing its focus from the standard segmentation used by its industry to that of specific end-users, was able to better understand its market position and identify attractive new product features.

This epiphany--innovation and differentiation through understanding how end-customers utilize a product and how they do their jobs--would not be surprising to Procter & Gamble, or to Clayton Christensen, who wrote about this back in 2005 ("Marketing Malpractice: The Cause and the Cure" link - $$).

One question is why this was so novel to Thomson. My guess is that it relates to how media companies view themselves. They have grown up as mass distributors, sending standardized product out to customers via newsstands, television, radio. Focusing on specific end-customer segments was time-consuming and unnecessary when there was always a new growth medium out there. Now, with growth stagnating for most media companies, they find they are no different from the packaged-goods manufacturers who sponsor their television programs.

To wit: they need customers, and customers need a job done.

How to market a product that isn't a product
Shop Talk Podcast #4 - Tony Ulwick on Determining What Customers Really Want...

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Anonymous said...

A snippet from a great program by Clayton