When working with marketing executives, I like to paraphrase Henry Ford when he said if he only listened to his customers he would have built a faster horse. Even though I firmly believe spending time with and talking to customers is perhaps the foundational responsibility of marketers, I also think it is important to go beyond what they say. It is critical to observe what customers do rather than what they say and more importantly it is then vital to create for them something even beyond their wildest imagination.
Being from Detroit, the car executives are like sports stars and their lives and thinking is followed very closely. Obviously, above all the others is the founder of the industry, Henry Ford. He was a ruthless inventor, industrialist and business person who had some very interesting philosophies that are worth looking back at from time to time. Take a look at this blog that lists some of Ford’s other less famous quotes and see how his thinking is needed even today.
I love the first quote in the article that says the one rule for an industrialist is to develop the highest quality product possible, price it as low as possible while paying your workers as much as possible. Most of us would recognize that this would seem to go against the popular thinking of trying to get as much profit margin as the market will allow. Why pay workers more than you have to? Why price a product lower than what people will pay? Why continue to improve quality even beyond what the customer demands? In Ford’s view, these things all come together as the perfect combination and overall profit is maximized rather than the profit on any one unit sold. Remember his famous line about needing to price his cars so that his workers could buy them? This is so very true today in our industry when we see 85% of all prescriptions being filled with generics.
The are so many other quotes in the blog that I just love. He talks about if a business only makes money, it is a bad business. If you concentrate on service your only concern will be what to do with your outrageous profits. Ford’s famous line on quality is doing the right thing when nobody is looking, which perhaps led to his company’s recent line about quality being job #1.
How about some of his lines on personal growth and development. Ford’s line on vision without execution being hallucination should be a centerpiece on every CEO’s desk. He talks about setting your expectations too low and not trying to overcome things you think are impossible. Leadership can come from any position in a company. The importance of learning from your mistakes and the overall importance of learning at any age will keep you young. The quotes go on and on with one being better than the next.
The end of the list of quotes is the one that talks about success. Ford says that success is about doing more for the world than what the world does for you. This sounds oddly like President Kennedy’s famous line from his first inaugural speech and perhaps something everyone should think more about every day.