“Creating More Value: The Secret To Beating Your Competition”
There’s a lot of information online these days about how to make your brand stand out in order to get a leg up on your competition. Creating more value is in there but not enough, as far as I’m concerned. From posting relevant content on social media— more often than your competition— to making offers for free information through lead magnets and other forms of marketing, there are many ways to get attention for your business, get and retain customers and lead in your industry or locale. . But of all the online methods, gimmicks and everything else, providing more value than your competition still leads the pack in winning in your niche.
I’ve done all of the above regarding marketing my business— and continue to. There are certain things that are necessary in staying front and center online with your tribe. A social media presence where your followers are, a good website that works for you and good lead generation methods are all necessary for brand awareness, top-of-mind consciousness and acquiring new customers for sure. Posting relevant content is a must-have in any business’s marketing arsenal today. Nurturing prospects by providing value upfront through free information and other means positions you as an authority and builds trust as well.
But a key element in winning in any niche is to create more value to your customers. Create more value than your competition gives. Create more value than your customers would ever expect. “Wow” them. This is the key to more market share in just about any industry.
The business trend of the “customer experience” was born out of this. Many products and services have been commoditized since the advent of the internet. Combine that with The Great Recession and people are more price-conscious today than they’ve ever been. Many businesses can no longer compete on price for their goods and services. They have to come up with new ways to convince customers to stay with them over the long-term. Thus the customer experience became a marketing differentiator.
To a degree, this is still a business truism. ‘He who takes care of the customer the best wins” is a new mantra for many brands. And well it should be. Providing a stellar end-to-end customer experience can mean the difference between a good business and a great business. Florida-based grocery chain Publix is a good example of this. They are by far the biggest employee-owned corporation in the land and each employee has a vested interest in pleasing their customers. From the stock boys to the cashiers, all employees are trained to make sure the customer is taken care of and finds what they need. Their profit-sharing plan is more than generous and helps fuel this customer-centric mentality. They consistently deliver a great experience for their customers and their profits reflect this.
Providing an amazing end-to-end experience is a very high form of value to the customer because customer service is still badly lacking in most every industry. I have been asking the following question in my own business on a daily basis recently: “How can I do more for my customers to help them solve their problems”. In my case, as a marketing consultant, I can add more methods of marketing that my clients didn’t formerly utilize. I recently added 5-10 hours per month of LinkedIn lead generation for a retainer client. I didn’t raise my monthly fee to do it either. I simply factored in what it would cost to use my virtual assistant to do this without breaking the bank. My client was delighted that I added this to the existing services I was providing him without raising my fee.
Providing more value simply engenders loyalty in most clients. It also increases your referrals for other business. Below are 5 ways to increase the value to your customers and clients:
1. Put long-term customers in a “VIP Program”. Customers who are loyal to you for a long period of time deserve special treatment, discounts, etc., and can become your greatest advocates for referrals. Creating a VIP Club can be a great idea. Everyone likes to be part of an exclusive group and this a great way to reward long-time customers. Offer them first choice on new products or services before you roll them out to the general public or give them discounts on products that are full-price for the general public.
2. Give customers premiums. Bonuses and “extras” go a long way in building loyalty in any business. These bonuses don’t have to cost much—or anything—but they should have high-perceived value in the minds of your customers.
3. Develop a referral program. If your advocates and “raving fans”, as Ken Blanchard calls them, refer new business to you, give them something in return. I have a client who gives cash flat out for referrals who sign a contract with him. Money is always an incentive but you can also get creative by rewarding people who refer business to you with discount or free products or services you have.
4. Develop your own customer experience program. A few years ago when I lived in central Florida, I used to go to a higher-end hair salon. Their customer experience every time was second to none. From offering drinks like cucumber water and snacks, to back rubs before the haircut, the entire experience was always very relaxing and, to me, justified the extra cost involved. This was high-perceived value to me.
5. Know your customers and learn what they want. Learning what your customers want and then giving it to them will be one of the most important tasks for you in building your business. Doing customer surveys and informally asking questions about what they like and don’t like can help you home in on what pleases them so you can do more of it.
You can do all the usual things in marketing and selling but the highest-leverage task that will help you to grow and sustain your business is continually finding ways to provide more value for your customers. If you do this, you can’t help but beat your competition.