An ice cream is an ice cream. A laptop is a laptop. A plumber is a plumber. A business coach is just another business coach. They are all homogenous ─ basic commodities that can be bought anywhere in a competitive market. Right?
Yes and no. Many entrepreneurs operate as commodity businesses. They look and sound the same as everyone else in their industry. They trade on price, often reducing their price to ‘win the business’. Nothing makes them stand out from the crowd. They are plain vanilla ice cream; something that can be bought anywhere.
Yet, one of the most pressing issues facing many businesses is how to attract more quality customers. This is the constant concern I hear when networking with and coaching entrepreneurs.
Why? Often is it because they have not identified and communicated to their customers the value they offer with their products and services.
When we are selling value to the customer, we are selling benefits – things they want and need; an emotional connection to the product, and often an experience too. When we do that we are selling; something that stands apart from the rest and cannot be bought anywhere.
Let me explain.
I am an ice cream ‘snob’, yet we could argue that most ice creams taste very similar. In London, I will travel to Notting Hill just to visit a particular store to marvel over their range of gorgeous flavours, buy one, and then sit and savour it. When in New Zealand I will only eat one brand of ice cream. I can buy it from a handful of stores or in tubs in the supermarket.
So why do I bother being so finicky over ice cream? Because I am buying something more than just ice cream. I am buying an experience – a moment when time stops as I savour the joys of the ice cream. I am also buying a perception of luxury – as defined by me. The personal benefits of the ice cream brands I buy are worth the inconvenience of travelling far and wide to buy them.
The same goes for many other products and services I buy. I will return to buy certain products and services time and again, as they are selling something that is of value to me.
Look at your business. Is it selling something that is highly valued by your customers? Do you have differentiated products and services that your customers can only buy from you? Do your products and services emotionally connect with your customers so they come back time and again?
Starbucks is great example. They enjoy customer loyalty that most businesses can only dream of. Yet, I am sure the same quality of coffee can be bought in many coffee shops around the world – and more cheaply. But Starbucks is selling an experience that its customers will pay for.
Value is often intangible. It’s in the mind of the buyer. So as business owners, we need to get into the minds of our desired customers and understand what benefits, value, and experiences they are seeking when buying the products and services we offer.
Once we understand, it is our duty to effectively communicate our ability to deliver those values, benefits and experiences to our potential customers. If we do that effectively, we will be seen as different, relevant and necessary by our customers.
Our businesses will be branded differently from our competitors… so long as we deliver on the value and benefits we promise. If we don’t, we are doomed to be seen once again as a commodity business.
Get value, benefits, and experience right in the eyes of our customers and we will be able to set premium prices for our products and services. Price is only an issue when value is not perceived.
And finally, not all business coaches are the same. I have branded my business to work with business owners/entrepreneurs around the world who want to be ‘mega performing’ – achieving all that they desire in business and life – as they define it. My business is a Swiss chocolate ice cream made with only organic products and with little ‘sweet treat surprises’ scattered throughout… and it can’t be bought anywhere else other than from me.
What ice cream flavour is your business? And where can it be bought?