CEO of YellowWood Group
If you are not leveraging value as a key element in your marketing strategy, you’re already behind the 8-ball. Whether you refer to your customers as clients, members, participants, guests, patients, students, or something else, the concept of value must take center stage if you are on a mission to woo, win and wow your customers. Why? Because if you don’t know why your customers buy from you, eventually they’ll buy from someone else.
Most people’s understanding of value is in its classic reference, typically associated with price or quantity. Some might take it a step further and tie value to tiers of purchasing. But I would argue that few people understand what the word value really means from a customer’s perspective. Value is not singly defined by a formula or a pricing model – and value means different things to different people. To leverage value, you first have to understand it.
Simply put, value is whatever the customer says it is. Knowing your customers means understanding from their perspective what elements of a value-based experience will move them into action. To help my clients embrace value and be more competitive, I say “value is what you deliver over what you promised to deliver.” Value is both subjective and relative, therefore if you don’t know what your customers value . . . start asking them.
To deliver value, you’ll need to develop a deeper insight about customer expectations and discover the needs and wants that drive what customers value most. It’s not going to be easy getting to the truth about customer expectations. In general, customers won’t tell you outright – most will make you work a little for it. But, to compete in today’s crowded marketplace, you’ll need to think like a modern marketer and develop a competitive positioning strategy that puts value at the heart of it.
1. Stop selling to yourself.
You are your own worst customer. In all likelihood, your marketing messages are designed around a naïve assumption that your customers buy for the same reasons you do. A popular mistake in perspective is to picture yourself as the customer and imagine what you would do if you were him/her. You are not your customer, thus what you value is not what he/she will value. Your customers have wants, needs, and expectations that are different from yours. Just because something makes sense to you doesn’t mean it will make sense to your customers.
2.If you don’t care, neither will they.
Customers crave an experience, not a transaction. Deliberately folding experiential elements into the customer buying process offers customers the assurance of being acknowledged and heard. Anything you can include in the process that highlights your understanding of them before they buy from you will translate into more value for those customers. Customers want to know that you get them before they buy from you. Create different levels of experience and engagement to show that you understand and care.
3. Promise something! Then deliver it.
A promise to your customer is a standard that you will be held to long after the sale. A promise isn’t a vague slogan about quality, or price. Rather, a promise is a clear statement about how the company feels about its customer relationships. At YellowWood Group our customer promise is “Once a client, always a friend” and we strive everyday to deliver on that promise. We listen out for what each customer needs from us in order to see the value of our relationship. It’s not easy and sometimes we stumble, but we get it right more than we get it wrong – and we keep trying. Many of our customers tell us that they value the fact that we keep trying.
Never forget that people make buying decisions. Digging deeper to uncover why people buy and what people value puts you on a unique and sometimes hair-pulling journey into human dynamics. But if you are fortunate to master the process of delivering on value, you’ll be able to leverage value as a game-changing element to support your competitive advantage.