Marketing

"In real estate, if you keep yourself in front of long-term demographic trends, you will prosper," observes Christopher Cole, founder and chief executive of the Cole Companies, who received the Distinguished Achievement Award at the W. P. Carey undergraduate convocation recently. A survivor of Phoenix's boom-and-bust real estate markets for more than 28 years, Cole maintains real estate as an investment class is in its baby years. The biggest inflows of capital, he says, have yet to happen.

Plenty of consumers sip Maxwell House coffee because it's "good to the last drop," and would proudly answer "yes" if asked, "Doesn't your dog deserve Alpo?" The brand-building punch of such slogans helps companies turn shoppers into customers. But if brand equity boosts sales to consumers, doesn't it make sense that it also affects relationships with resource suppliers, corporate partners, government bodies and other constituencies? Cheryl Burke Jarvis, professor of marketing at the W. P. Carey School of Business, thinks that companies are undervaluing brand equity in their financial calculations.

A lot of companies focus on competition, innovation and cost-cutting to drive cash flow. But according to Ruth Bolton, marketing professor at the W. P. Carey School of Business, successful firms understand that cash flow is derived from customers. When customers are more satisfied and loyal, they buy more and remain customers longer. "That delivers more profitability to the bottom line," she says.

IBM's Customer Obsession Program (COP) is focused on achieving a world-class client experience, service delivery that is consistently the best, and a passionate commitment to the customer. The goal is to communicate to customers that a specific person at IBM cares whether their business does well. In a recent speech at an executive education symposium sponsored by the Center for Services Leadership at the W. P. Carey School, Scott Dougall, general manager of IBM's GTS Americas Technical Support, explained how "customer-obsessed" service results in customer relationships that drive profitability in the good times and sustain you through the bad.