A new blog series about business needs, consumer wants, and the ongoing journey that binds them.

Right about now, anyone who knows me will be asking themselves “What the heck does Susan know about the Triple Crown, let alone horse racing?” Actually, not much, but there’s a tie-in here, I promise.

First off, I’ve made a career out of developing winning consumer marketing strategies for products and solutions ranging from packaged software to SaaS solutions. As funny as it sounds, one of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that, even as years go by and technology changes, consumers pretty much remain the same. They want to be treated fairly, presented with simple and valuable solutions to the problems they face, and – perhaps most importantly – they want to be respected and protected. Sounds pretty easy, right? Au contraire.

In my 20 years of technology marketing, it never ceases to amaze me how so many organizations and teams seem to have lost sight of what really matters.

More often than not, they’ve lost that sense of “humanness” and personal touch that keeps consumers coming back for more, no matter what you’re selling. Whether you’re offering area rugs or security software – or even collar stays (from my grandfather’s time) – the simple fact remains: If you lose sight of what consumers really want, they will “fire” your organization and quickly find an alternative (ie – your competition), leaving you with nothing.

This is the power the consumer holds in today’s world. It’s a simple fact, and one that can be downright scary to us marketers. Which brings me back to the topic at hand…

What does the Triple Crown have to do with building a successful online consumer-focused business?

It all started with a brief introduction in 2012 to Bob Baffert, the trainer for a horse named American Pharaoh. Our daughters both worked with the same charitable organization, and one day, someone mentioned that Bob was a world-renowned horse trainer. I thought to myself, “Okay, nice. What the heck does that mean?”

Being a typical marketing geek, I did a bit of research on just what a trainer does, and was surprised to discover that it’s very similar to the job of a business owner – managing all the “hands” that touch the horse and working to achieve specific goals – in this case, winning races. Winning one race was amazing (and lucrative), but winning three (or four if you add the Breeders Cup) was like blowing your revenue projections out of the park while delighting (as they say) your consumers.

So what was his special trick? Did he have some unseen bond with this horse? A real horse whisperer, perhaps?

In Baffert’s case, the winning strategy came down to an attitude that focused on the goal at hand, but in a way that respected his staff, jockey, owner, and, ultimately, American Phoroah. They were all on the journey together, and would win or lose as a unified team.

This is an important idea, and one that deserves a deeper look. That’s why we’re dedicating a series of blog posts to this very topic in the weeks ahead. In this blog series, I’ll use the Triple Crown as an example to illustrate how:

Teamwork Matters
Developing a successful online consumer site takes a variety of teams all working together as one – from the business leaders, to IT /Security, Fraud/Risk, Product/Consumer Experience and Marketing.

Each Race is Unique
Running each race requires different focus. I will relate each race to a team.

The Consumer is Key
Developing an exceptional consumer journey, one that provides true value, is the way to keep your competitors at bay.

It’s About the Journey
The journey is much harder than crossing the finish line – but the rewards from the journey and the consumers you touch will last a life time. A consumer relationship is built on trust. If that bond is broken it is nearly impossible to repair.

The Triple Crown of horse racing is coming up fast, so we have a lot of ground to cover. Stay tuned for our next installment in this blog series in the coming weeks.

And we're off!