Carl Bildt, the Swedish Foreign Minister, believes that Israel can make peace with the Arab peoples, not just the rulers. His approach reminded me of something I read in a blog not long ago about the strategy that accounts for Apple’s success.
Interviewed recently by the Jerusalem Post for their article “Advice from a Leading Critic“, Bildt opined that Israel should be making peace with the Arab peoples, rather than their rulers:
…Bildt’s conclusion…was that rather than talking about “more boots” on the ground [as Netanyahu is inclined – C.L.], it should be focusing on how to make peace not with Arab rulers, but with the Arab people.
The possibility that exists now for Israel is to sort of make peace not only with rulers of Egypt, but with the people of Egypt… That will make that front even more secure.
Acknowledging that making peace with the people is more difficult than signing agreements with leaders, Bildt said that “in the new situation, if the peace is not more solidly anchored, then the boots on the ground are not going to help anyhow.”
“Sort of” making peace aside, his contention is that the object of our peace initiatives should be the people themselves, i.e. “the end users”, rather than the rulers. Considering that the current upheaval in the Middle East has been caused by populist uprising, one might say that making overtures to “the people” makes sense. After all, if (most) rulers rule by popular consent, then an enduring peace would be kept by “the people” whose interests it best serves.
This sounded to me very much like Matt Asay’s article “Apple Doesn’t Target Markets. It Targets People” at Gigaom.com, a website dedicated to technology. Asay explained that Apple’s success was related to their marketing to the end users, who would be using their products, rather than to the CEOs. He points out that:
… Apple doesn’t seem to target markets in the way other companies do.
It targets people. It focuses on users. And Apple lets them decide how and where they’ll use its products.
This sounds simple, but in my experience very few companies think this way… Few seem to realize that there are people employed within these target markets, and these people will be the ones who actually embrace or reject one’s product.
He points to JBoss and SpringSource as two other companies that have marketed their products similarly, noting that:
All JBoss’ early marketing was focused on developers, not CIOs, and its product development was focused on making developers happy.
SpringSource, …fought off the accusation that it wasn’t “enterprise ready” by being “developer ready” from the start, and focusing relentlessly on pleasing its target market: the developer.
When I read this article, I thought it was a great idea for other types of businesses, large and small, as well. If you want to sell to schools, market to the teachers. If they are sold on your products they can sell the administration for you. Can you offer a superior product or service to residents in a nursing home? If you sell to the residents’ families the message that what you offer is better for their parents than what they are currently receiving, then the residents’ children will be your best sales reps to the home’s administration.
If you think about this concept in relationship to your business, I’m sure that you can think of some way to apply this principle, or a variation thereof, to help your business grow. Often the real decision makers are not the people you would initially consider approaching.
Which decision makers can help you energize your business?