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Marketing / Business marketing

Are you your own best customer?

There is a saying in technology circles, that if you believe in your own products, you should use them in your business. It’s called: eating your own dog food.

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For service-based businesses, it’s practising what you preach. Either way, the most important consumer and critic of your business’ services and products should be you.

Recently the Kaspersky Labs website was hacked by an anonymous hacker. This is an unfortunate and potentially costly event. What’s different here is that Kaspersky Labs is an internet security business. Simply, they should have known better and they should have been applying the best of their skills to their own website.

Clients turn to Kaspersky’s products to protect their business from these very sorts of attacks so naturally this raises doubts in the clients’ mind that Kaspersky’s products or technicians aren’t as good as they claim. Kaspersky’s reputation in the market has been almost irreparably damaged by this essentially preventable attack.

Why ‘eat your own dog food’?

The trap we often face is that our own work is never good enough, or we overanalyse it. It is often these perfectionist qualities which hold us back. However, it can’t be underestimated how important it is to use your own products or service methodology. For example:

1. You will find bugs and opportunities to improve or enhance products before your clients.

2. You gain direct knowledge and experience in your product or service from a client’s perspective. Often products are built with features in mind; rather than how intuitive it is to use.

"Demonstrating commitment to your own products or services will tell your clients more about the quality of your offering than the best marketing campaign ever will."

3. You display to your clients a level of confidence in your product or service

Want more articles like this? Check out the business marketing section.

How to do it

For businesses selling products, the process is relatively easy. For example, if your business builds and sells a Content Management System (CMS), build and deploy your own website using it. If you sell those hand-made chocolates with the gooey fudge centres; get yourself a good treadmill!

Your products should do everything you promise to your clients and if you can’t easily factor your product into your business or life, then chances are your clients won’t be able to either.

Similarly, if you run a service-based business; follow these steps to practice what you preach:

1. Go back to fundamentals and look at your work from the perspective of a client.

2. Take the time to clearly document what you’re trying to achieve, even if you have all the information in your head, you need to write it down to ensure you understand it completely. Write it with the assumption that someone else will do the work.

3. Put together a detailed plan of how you’re going to achieve the end result. Document all the things to be done and the level of quality you would expect, making sure you include all those things that you would normally do implicitly as part of your delivery. This plan will form a checklist of all the things you expect to be delivered, regardless of who is doing it.

4. Now that you have the requirements and plan documented, undertake the work yourself, but check off the items on the plan as you go.

5. Lastly, and this is the most important step, have a trusted friend or advisor critique your work as if it were for a client. Would they honestly buy from you if this was an example of your best work?

At the end of the day, demonstrating commitment to your own products or services will tell your clients more about the quality of your offering than the best marketing campaign ever will.

As a wise friend once said: who should be your first pick when choosing a financial advisor? The wealthy one!

Do you use your own products in your business?

Greg Pritchard

is dedicated to making your software and systems contribute to your business bottom line. He founded Dedication Group, an IT & Management Consultancy helping companies deliver on their IT Strategies.

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