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What do Charlene Li and Wayne Gretsky have in common?

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What do Charlene Li and Wayne Gretsky have in common? 1
Author Charlene Li during her keynote at MarTech East in Boston on Sept. 17.

As many are aware, one of Gretsky’s keys to his phenomenal hockey success was skating to where the puck was going to be rather than where it currently was.

Charlene Li found the very same is true of companies that successfully transform themselves. In her latest book, The Disruption Mindset, her research and empirical analysis have shown that focusing on future customers was one of the key differentiators of companies that successfully transformed versus those that fail.

So how do you focus on your future customer? Using principles of design thinking you start with customer research – what are the industry and marketplace dynamics, customer trends and preferences, technological innovations, competitive dynamics – and forecast a variety of scenarios, aptly named futurecasting (formerly known as scenario planning).

You need to focus on specific customer cohorts or segments. What are their pain points? What is it that they are trying to accomplish (also referred to as jobs to be done)? Now literally put yourself in their shoes; what are these customers thinking, feeling and doing as they go about satisfying this need or meeting a goal? These insights become the crucial foundation upon which design thinking is based.

This deep understanding of your future customer’s needs and preferences becomes your North Star for guiding the design of your solutions – products, services and the ecosystem or platforms that surround the offering such as the IoT wrapper, AI and quantum computing. Start by designing the ideal future state customer journey map for your future customer. Be sure to think through the details of what channels you’ll use for communication, distribution and service. How will you leverage social, influencers, content…? What is the logical sequence of touchpoints from your customer’s standpoint and how can you orchestrate them to create an engaging, or even remarkable, customer experience.

Meeting Charlene Li at MarTech East last week was truly inspiring, and her keynote helped me realize why martech is so far ahead of marketers; they’re focused on the future customer.  

I beseech CMOs to lead their company’s in this transformation! Use these future customer insights to inform your tech stack selection, embrace an agile marketing approach and a disruption mindset.  

Now on to reading my personally inscribed copy of Charlene’s new book; guaranteed inspiration for more posts!

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

What do Charlene Li and Wayne Gretsky have in common? 3

Aileen Cahill is a Fortune 100 C-suite client advisor; selling and delivering consulting insights while building robust relationships and driving business results. She is a classically trained CPG brand marketer who blends “Big Data” analytics and customer insights with business strategy to drive strategic growth from the “outside in.” Unlocking revenue growth through customer focus, data analytics and process reengineering, she is a digital marketing pioneer who leverages analytics and design thinking to create new products and curate engaging customer experiences.



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