It’s The Age of the Customer – get over it!

This week I am thrilled to be able to participate in the book launch of Jim Blasingame’s new book The Age of the Customer. The following is a guest post from Jim Blasingame.

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Markets were born when humans chose to acquire what they needed by trading with each other rather than producing it themselves or taking from someone else by force. The moment of proto-market conception was when the first seller offered to trade with the first customer, and that offer was accepted.

For millennia, this marketplace dance was as beautifully simple as it was exquisitely effective, having at its nucleus three primary elements:

1. The product, controlled by the seller
2. Information about the product, also controlled by the seller
3. The buying decision, controlled by the customer

From that first transaction, when shells were the reserve currency, to about 1995AD, the marketplace dance was performed zillions of times with little variation. I’ve termed this period “The Age of the Seller,” because the Seller controlled two of the three elements.

Then something happened that had not occurred for 10,000 years: A new age – I call it The Age of the Customer®.

This new Age was born as micro-computers and associated innovations converged with high-speed Internet and associated applications. As this convergence shifts marketplace paradigms, it conveys the balance of power from the seller to the customer.

The millennia-old marketplace dance is still beautifully simple. But when the dancers come together in the Age of the Customer®, a new leader emerges, because control of the three major relationship elements has changed:

1. Products and services are still controlled by the Seller.
2. Information – including customer experiences – is now easily and abundantly available to the Customer without being controlled, filtered or distributed by the Seller.
3. The buying decision is still controlled by the Customer.

The Age of the Seller is succumbing to the new Age as customers resist the restrictions of the former Age and embrace the empowerment of the new. During this transition period, Sellers are operating in parallel universes, but not for long.

Your small business is now operating in a new age where customers rule. They like this new-found empowerment, and increasingly expect sellers to connect with them on Age of the Customer terms. Sellers that transition to the new Age with their customers will be successful. Hidebound sellers, nostalgic for when they had control, will become irrelevant and perish.

Write this on a rock … It’s the Age of the Customer® – your world has changed.

For a short video from Jim on this topic, click here.

__________________

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Jim Blasingame is one of the world’s foremost experts on small business and entrepreneurship. He is the award-winning host of The Small Business Advocate® Show, the world’s only weekday radio talk show dedicated to small business, nationally syndicated since 1997. He is also a syndicated columnist and author of two books, Small Business is Like a Bunch of Bananas, and Three Minutes to Success. His new book, The Age of the Customer®, will be released January 2014.

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