How To Design a Business around the Customers? A Book by Walter Vieira & Brian Almeida Explains
Prof Narayan Das of Harvard Business School had this to say about the book “…while focused on the world of start-ups, this book provides executives in all contexts an in-depth look into the complexities underlying the rapidly changing world of marketing and business in which we live. “
 
This book was written in October 2019, at that time little did we know what was to come in 2020... 6 months into 2020—one the key benefits of the book is preparing business leaders for a volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA) environment. The reason being simple it defines the simple tenants of business—“the purpose of business is to create and keep a customer” as stated by none other than Peter Drucker. 
 
And there Marketing in Digital & Data World by Walter Vieira and Brian Almeida could well have also been titled “Marketing in VUCA World” or “Marketing Designed around The Customer”.
 
The reason why it seems so relevant is simply because it emphasises the need to design business around the customer and understanding the behaviour of the customer. With the amounts of data being generated and available to businesses the investments in understanding, analysing and extracting insights from this valuable resource—the common saying these days is: 'data is new oil'. 
 
I have chosen some of the extracts to provide a flavour of the book and an insight into why I think it is a good read for entrepreneurs, marketers (young and old) and even students who want to prepare themselves around this philosophy. 
 
"Response implies that a business listens to its customers and answers in real-time to their positive and negative comments; it adapts its products and strategies based on the needs of its clientele."
 
Who would have imagined the massive forced change in buying and delivery or logistics, overnight or literally within a few hours businesses had to re-orient themselves to the fact that customers would not come to them but would have to go out to reach customers – how do you know which customers? where they are located? how they buy? ….
 
"Marketing on multiple channels helps address the aspect of the customer's 'convenience of buying'. ..."
 
As an example mentioned of retailers in Mumbai who had a trial of this when many of them had to bear with the literal shut down of some of their outlets during civil work of the Metro network.
 
"Many retailers are suffering since their outlets are becoming inaccessible because of the recent chaos created in Mumbai due to the construction of the metro rail service. An outreach program by the retailers to customers who are unable to access them can help such businesses retain customers who would otherwise switch to more convenient stores. ..."
 
Retailers who then went on to execute a plan to address this have a ready template on addressing issues through the COVID-19 lock-down.
 
"There is growing 'back to basics' trend, ....
 
..."In food and drink, this preference for fresh produce has helped boost the market for hyperlocal food and compostable or reusable packaging...
 
“In the travel industry, it reflects the growing rates of vacationers wanting curated holidays as opposed to packaged vacations...”
 
Insights into customer demographics, transactions (behaviour), and psychographic are required :
 
Beautifully illustrated in this insert, the challenge for businesses can be drawn easily: 
 
The book revolves itself so much around aligning business investments to rate of return or rate of marketing investments which most business and entrepreneurs face as a BIG question.  
 
Why is Customer Lifetime Value an important metric – “It is an estimation of the net profit you will earn from a customer over the entire relationship” an increasingly important metric that is being used in valuation of corporates. Secondly it helps in decisions on prioritisng investments on higher value customers giving higher returns.
 
It is so intuitive in its text that the book mentions the Rule of 3—Jio, Airtel, Vodafone in the telecom and internet space is becoming an important axis around which business partnerships are forming – revolving around the common customer segment which most of them are targeting. We are not surprised therefore by creating of platforms under Jio to include Jiomart, Reliance Retail, and even maybe Reliance fuel. Soon alliances between brands chasing common customer segments will be the BIG marketing wars of the future equivalent to legendary Coke wars of the 80’s.
 
The book gets into details of convenience, communication and targeting, the impact of technology on business and marketing as well as some of the new emerging trends of staying socially relevant and addressing data issues. 
 
For those interested it covers the increasing trend of digitisation in payments and also the media. It highlights the simple observation of how targeting has changed with the media. The biggest being relevant to your customer in such intrusive media such as mobile and web, which now covers timing (readiness of customer, timing of communication), payment type (cash, credit, debit, on delivery, installments) media type (internet, mobile, social media, print, outdoor). All of which make marketing more and more of a science, with data driving the decision making. 
 
The old adage of 50% of advertising is wasted and we do not know which 50% by John Wanamaker is slowly and steadily being reduced through data science and insights, based marketing. While we will never reach the 100%, we can certainly reduce the 50%, and that goes straight to your bottom line.
 
To wrap up this is a practitioner’s book on the use of data in today’s time and I would end with a strong recommendation for those interested in some of the applications that would take you through simple steps of applying them to your businesses. It unwraps the complexity and provides an easy to use guide without overwhelming the reader about a complex issue in today’s world. 
 
The book has some interesting annexure that decodes the practice and data on trends and examples from the authors vast experience. 
 
Available on Amazon, Flipkart and other platforms—I have a strong read recommendation for Marketing in Digital & Data World by Walter Vieira and Brian Almeida.
 
 
 
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