Where Are You in Your Arc?

Stu Perlmeter

Putting customer feedback in a broader context of brand, long-term strategies and competitive environment

It’s fascinating how business buzz words and phrases pop in and out of use. Here are a few: “At the end of the day”, “core competency”, “think outside the box” and “take ownership”.

“The long arc” is one of those you currently hear a lot lately. Its origins are with Martin Luther King, Jr., who reminded us that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Generally, the term is used in Astronomy, to describe the curved path of celestial bodies as they lumber across the galaxy.

In business you hear it a lot now to describe how spurious events that seem suddenly meaningful, should instead be viewed over a greater span of time. Usually, the thrust is to caution the listener or reader to step back and look at where we are in the overall scheme of things. It’s a way of saying, “let’s not get too caught up in the moment; let’s take the long view on this”.

As a customer insights firm, it shows up for us in a similar way. We frequently find ourselves exerting a lot of effort to understand why customers make the decisions they do. How does their journey bubble up to a buying decision, especially on the enterprise level?

Companies that hire us tend to be ones that think and care about these little understood buyer behaviors; to shine light on these perceptions that they want to either optimize or change.

There’s a risk of being too micro in looking at customer behavior. That is, if you focus too closely on a particular decision-journey, you can wind up chasing your tail in trying to decide on a prudent course of action, based on the learnings. It’s all to easy to fall into a game of “whack-a-mole”, fixing the things that are broken or at least showing up as problematic.

It makes more sense to put these micro “learnings” into a broader context of the brand, the competitive environment and the long-term strategies the company has embraced. By staying focused on the horizon line rather than the moment, the learnings that come from customer insight work take on more relevance and value.

And in the “long arc” of things, this just makes a lot of sense.

About the Author

Stu Perlmeter

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Stu brings 30 years of marketing and research experience to 1st Resource, which he founded in 1996. Stu’s primary expertise is in understanding the market insights that tie to success formulas for companies seeking to grow their business in strategic ways.