Do you see frightening signs that your customers view your business as a commodity? Do your customers:
– Ask you to provide the same or more at a lower price?
– Insist on getting low-cost competitors into the mix?
– Show a lack of appreciation for your leadership and value?
If so, watch out–you are spinning, out of control, into the dreaded wasteland of commoditization. How to fight back? Believe it or not, the strongest tool in your arsenal is creativity–the intellectual capital of your management team and your consultants. Customers make it clear that business as usual is no longer enough. If you want to transition from commodity to hot property in the eyes of your customers, the answer lies in innovation. Your low-cost competitors can replicate what you offer today at a lower price. The answer is to come back to your customers, again and again, with new ideas that impact their success, supported by a valued relationship.
To transition from commodity to hot property in the eyes of your customers, bring in your management team and outside consultants for a brainstorming session to answer the 5 questions below. Include consultants in the mix to get away from the usual “group think.” Create a game plan from the resulting ideas:
1. Who are our most important customers and prospects (our VIPs)? These are the cream of the crop–ideal customers and prospects who can benefit tremendously from what you have to offer and have the ability to pay.
2. What are the key challenges faced by our VIPs? If you don’t know, this is a certain sign that you are out of touch. Consider their challenges beyond your scope of expertise–see life in their shoes. Hire a consultant to help you discover the pain and opportunity points of your customers.
3. What resources and new ideas can we offer our VIPs? Throw a lot of ideas on the whiteboard–walk away with those that will be viewed as helpful by your customers. If you are not sure which ideas make the biggest impact, meet with key customers to get feedback and direction.
4. Can we put a relationship marketing plan in place for the key decision makers? Are you providing everything your best customers need except a meaningful relationship? Do your customers truly understand and appreciate the value you deliver? Determine the personal needs and interests of the executives you serve and creatively share ideas, opportunities and venues. Not sure what they like, want and value? Ask your customers or hire a marketing consultant to do the asking for you.
5. How can we present our ideas/innovations in the most compelling fashion? Your management team’s ideas, showcased to share a vision that is exciting to your best customers, deserve to be presented in a fashion that will gain understanding, appreciation and acceptance. Hire a marketing consultant or public relations firm if necessary. Don’t dress your ideas in overalls–unless they are the apparel of choice of your customers.
Upon the completion of your brainstorming session, appoint a leader to write up a plan based on the creative ideas that surfaced, assign responsibilities and create a timeline. Replace business as usual with creative thinking put into action. Your company’s life—and bottom line—depend upon it.
Lyne Noella is CEO & Founder of WavePlay LLC (www.waveplayllc.com), a boutique agency that helps executives solve problems and meet goals via introductions and professional events. Contact her at Lyne.Noella@waveplayllc.com