Next up in our discussion about responsible decision making and value chains is the reality of just how messy modern businesses are. However daunting it may first appear, the messiness is all the more reason we need a framework to make sense of the noise.
It is always fair to ask, “Where am I, what am I doing, and why am I doing it?” Everyone is fallible. If you own your own business, you already know the required level of humility (hopefully), and if you work for someone else, well, Dilbert and The Office exist for a reason. The world changes, so we need to regularly reassess our position in it.
Question 1: Who is YOUR customer? Is it the end-user of the product? If so, you’re a distributor/curator. If they (your customer) are the distributor/curator, you’re a supplier/creator.
Question 2: Where is your product on the “commodity – one of a kind” continuum? Is it a totally generic widget, a luxury good, or a decent quality for the price (in the middle)?
Question 3: Is your value chain a distributor-linked chain, or a curator-linked chain?
Question 4: How is your marketing message informed by your answers? If you supply a distributor, does your narrative remind them of how amazing your price is compared the competition? If you curate luxury items, do you sell your creators and users on the special access you provide them?
You can probably tell that this where things get messy. There are layers to various scenarios we can start to play out. Maybe you are a distributor, but sometimes you work with a curator to access your end users. Does dealing with users directly versus through a curator influence your messaging? Probably. There’s a lot of fine-tuning that needs to be applied once you have your framework in place.
Confusion frequently stems from misinterpretation of these roles. You might lose a customer because they thought you were a distributor of a commodity and you failed to educate them that you’re actually a curator of a luxury service. A supplier might mistake themselves for a curator when they’re really just supplying a distributor and should be focused on how they fit into the end-user experience.
The good news is that education wins the day, so knowing these questions will help troubleshoot value chain problems. Up next we’ll turn back to intent.