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What Business Are You Really In?

Why do your customers come to you? What do they really want when they wake up in the morning? In the early days of Priceline, a group of the founding executives discussed the fact that they were not selling airline tickets for a living. No, they existed to help get you to your sister’s wedding, at a price you could afford.
Think about it. Would you treat your customers differently if your job was to help them get to a sister’s wedding instead of just selling airline tickets? Of course you would.
If the music industry had realized that it existed not to sell records or CDs but simply to find the fastest, easiest way to let you hear the song you want to hear, they would have invented the iPod and iTunes. instead Apple, a company not even in the music industry, did that.
Why? Because the major music store chains never asked the question about why people bought music from them. They thought they knew the answer, after all wasn’t it obvious? “To buy CDs,” they had speculated. In hindsight, it’s easy to respond now with “I don’t think so.”
You can look at it this way, nobody anywhere wants to buy a CD. No one wakes up in the morning thinking to themselves, Wow, I wish I was holding a round piece of plastic with a hole in it right now. They wake up in the morning thinking, I want to hear that new song in my ear!
Those music businesses were trapped by the notion of how many millions of CDs they sell a year. They never made the connection between “They have to buy a CD” and “what they want is to put a song in their ear. ”
What’s the difference? The difference is this: Apple now makes billions of dollars selling music, while record companies and music stores have suffered years of declining sales. More recent innovations in music, like Spotify, an Internet music streaming service, don’t come from the music industry either. The very chain of stores that once led the industry has since filed for bankruptcy liquidation. All because the founders never stopped to think about why their customers really came to them.

So, what business are you really in?

Take this challenge: Ask your customers the real reason they come to you. Is it to get tested or buy a hearing aid? Who really wants a hearing aid? Think about it. More likely, what they really want is to enjoy conversations, not feel left out, or retain their personal relationships with others. Then you should really focus all your efforts on making what they want faster and easier to get.