Lessons from Bezos - What CEOs can learn from Amazon

What other company can say that they sell more than 20 million products?

How many other CEOs can honestly say that they are more interested in the future than current profitability?

What business are we in?

Most CEOs feel as if they are in a perpetual battle with their competitors for share of market. Bezos says: “If you are competitor focused, then you have to wait for a competitor to do something. Being customer-focused allows you to be more pioneering.”

Every company is in the customer business, but few behave that way. The management guru Peter Drucker said: “The purpose of a company is to create a customer, and the job of the leader is to grow the value of a customer.” Looks like Jeff Bezos is a great student of that age old philosophy.

His vision for the future has created a $75 Billion company with no limits in sight. He is the epitome of the classic entrepreneur – passionate, driven, and customer-centric. He has inculcated his customer-centricity in everyone who works at Amazon. Their perpetual search for faster, better, and cheaper solutions has created an emotional bond with their growing population of satisfied customers.

Are you chasing profits or building equity?

During his watch shareholders in Amazon stock have seen their original investments increase by 125%. In the process Amazon has surpassed Apple to be the world’s most trusted brand. That’s in only about a 13 year period!

Bezos is infamous for his management style - the maniacal pursuit of customer satisfaction, challenging his staff, and well known frugality. However, these traits have created an enviable brand equity without having to adhere to short term standard financial performance standards on profitability and ROI.

Bezos explains his profitability philosophy: “Because of our emphasis on the long term, we may make decisions and weigh trade-offs differently than some companies, but if you remain patient the interests of the customers and shareholders eventually align.” Echoes of Peter Drucker.

What is your vision for your company?

Are you just playing catch-up with your competitors? Mimicking their every move like Burger King and Wendy’s chasing McDonald’s? Or, are you actually talking to customers to find out how their requirements are changing?

Are you utilizing social media to find out what consumers are really saying to each other? A brand isn’t what you tell the customer it is – it is what customers tell each other what it is.

You need to find out what people are talking about and what they care about like Amazon has. Traditional marketing talks at consumers. Content marketing talks with them. When a customer or prospect shares your content, this is a great indicator that they are an influencer for your brand like Amazon customers do.

What is your value proposition and how does it differ from your competitors, and is it compelling? Where do you want your company to be over the next three to five years? How are you going to get there?

If you want to know what’s trending talk to your customers. How many CEOs volunteer their E address? How can they talk to you without it? Want to e mail Bezos: jeff@amazon.com


Robert M. Donnelly is the author of: Guidebook to Planning - A Common Sense Approach, an educator: Professor of Entrepreneurship & Innovation at Saint Peter's University, and a brand builder and marketing expert. His new book: Personal Brand Planning for life is a guide for anyone w...

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