Face it – no matter what you do for a living or what your business offers, you’re a dime a dozen, and there are countless others that do the same thing you do who are ready to take customers and fill the void. But fortunately, there’s a major differentiator you can leverage to keep the odds in your favor – value.
By Aaron S. Robertson
The author is pursuing a Ph.D. in leadership from Cardinal Stritch University, where he also holds a master's degree in management. His dissertation is in the realm of workplace culture. Learn more about him here.
In the world of business, it’s important to remember that we operate in an open marketplace where the consumer wins. When it comes to our craft – what we went to school for, or what we trained to become – we’re just a dime a dozen in this marketplace. There are already a billion other insurance agents, home inspectors, carpenters, realtors, automotive technicians, restaurants, photographers, bankers, mortgage lenders, dentists, plumbers, chiropractors, printers, etc., etc. out there. And when it comes to pricing our products and services, we’re all within the same ballpark, generally speaking, because of the intense competition we’re up against. Sounds like it’s hard to get noticed, right?
With that said, there are two very important, interrelated questions that we in business should constantly have on our minds: “Why should consumers come to our business for their needs or goals instead of going somewhere else?” and, “What do we need to do to stand out from the rest of the pack?”
Essentially, what we’re talking about here, is this notion of added value – the value proposition. Let’s explore several concrete examples. Before we do that, though, I wish to point out that I’m not being compensated in any way for mentioning these businesses. These are genuine, thoughtful examples based on my ongoing experiences over many years with these businesses. And I could offer you many, many more here, but then this article will never end. Here they are:
Matty’s Bar & Grille / M Catering – We’re talking award-winning food here. Major accolades in area newspapers. Rave reviews by customers. But it’s not the food and beverages that make it a favorite place of mine. In this open marketplace, I know I can go to any one of a million other places in the area for a decent meal and a couple of drinks at a relatively comparable price and level of quality. So it’s not the food and beverage menu alone that makes this place stand out for me. It’s the phenomenal customer service and personalized attention, what the Matty’s team calls “incomparable hospitality.” It’s the live music that’s brought in on a regular basis. It’s the party bus trips up to Lambeau Field, Camp Randall, and down to Miller Park. It’s all the meaningful charitable work the business is doing in the community. It’s the regular games and contests that you can get in on at the bar. It’s the event-planning expertise of the staff and the beautiful spaces, both indoor and outdoor, that are available to hold a memorable party. It’s the vendors and distributors that are brought in for incredible sampling and tasting events. You see, Matty’s takes a mundane, everyday concept like food and dining, and makes it incredibly fun. You want to be there. You think that you’re missing out on something big by not being there. It’s the atmosphere and the overall experience built up around an otherwise no-frills, everyday thing that we usually take for granted and don’t think about much. That’s the added value we’re talking about here.
Richlonn’s Tire & Service Centers – ASE certification is incredibly valuable, and there’s certainly an ongoing need for it in the automotive repair and service industry. But you know something? ASE (among other types of professional development programs for the industry) certified technicians are a dime a dozen these days. Like Matty’s, I know I can go to any one of a million other auto repair and service garages around the area for my needs at a relatively comparable price and level of quality. But I’m going to Richlonn’s. For me, it’s the comfortable and clean waiting room. It’s the television and wi-fi. It’s the Keurig coffee and freshly-made popcorn. It’s the level of communication, integrity, personalized attention, and friendliness of all the techs and service advisors. All these things add up to position Richlonn’s as a cut above the rest. That’s the value proposition we’re talking about here.
Legacy Salon & Day Spa – Salons, hairstylists, massage therapists, makeup artists, estheticians, etc. are all a dime a dozen, too. But I choose Legacy Salon & Day Spa for all my needs (let’s clarify here, though, that I do not have any makeup needs). I started going to Legacy some years back for color treatments and haircuts. My hairstylist, Emily, is very friendly and awesome to work with, and front desk staff are always quick to greet me by name and offer me something to drink. The environment is inviting and relaxing. The level of customer service and attention to detail by Emily and the desk staff, along with the environment, made it a no-brainer for me to eventually try out some of the salon’s other offerings, and I now get occasional facial and massage treatments there, as well.
Here are some questions and ideas to help you start thinking more about what you can do to take your business to the next level and really help it stand out from the endless sea that is your competition:
Are there additional processes that can be implemented, or steps taken, to improve our overall levels of communication with our customers?
What can we do to create a stronger learning environment in our business so that we can construct new knowledge and understandings and hence build further expertise?
Similar to the previous question, are there silos in our business that we can tear down so that we get team members from other departments talking and sharing ideas and insights with one another?
Are there ways we can tap into our networks to provide value-added products, services, discounts, gifts, or bits of helpful information to our customers from other businesses that we’re allied with?
What can we do to make the overall customer experience more fun, engaging, and ultimately, memorable?
When we think of our own experiences as consumers and customers, what stands out in our minds? What do we really like and appreciate? Can we incorporate the same or something similar for our own customers?
Still struggling with generating ideas for your business? You may find this other blog post I recently authored helpful: How to generate more and better business ideas. This other post explains what is perhaps the only time where quantity should come before quality.