The Best Marketing May be None at All

very narrow niche

Don’t be afraid to narrow your niche

Value of customer feedback

Customer feedback may be worth more than you think

hang on to your best employees

Fatal Error #27: Do they graduate or quit

extraordinary guaranttes

Extraordinary Guarantees and Your Business Model

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Cool business model or waste of time

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Don’t be afraid to narrow your niche

Don’t be afraid to narrow your niche

I saw the van below in a parking lot and it struck me as a shockingly narrow and unusual niche. This stands in stark contrast to many businesses who want to be all things to all people. They sport slogans like, “For all your… needs.”

very narrow niche

Common sense and human psychology dictate that you cannot be good at many things and most people or companies can only be great at one thing. Saying “all things” implicitly states you are great at nothing.

By overly, repeat…overly, narrowing your niche, you offer the customer the opportunity to perceive you as an expert at that. This is not an easy task in an economic environment where nearly every category is over-crowded.

So here’s today’s challenge: how can you tighten your offering to instantly communicate you are an expert because no one else claims to be an expert?

Here are some examples:

  • General web developer continued to develop websites but focused on the niche area of usability
  • Paving contractor focused on more profitable specialty of bridges
  • Alarm company stopped chasing low-margin new construction market and focused on historic renovations
  • General bakery focused on the white-hot area of cupcakes
  • Landscape contractor focused on yard curbing
  • IT body shop focused solely on Ruby on Rails developers and doubled sales

There are many more examples of how companies grew sales by contracting their focus. Here’s the secret: customers will still buy offerings outside your focus area. The landscape contractor still sold mulch. The bakery re-expanded offerings to include cookies. The alarm company still cherry-picked new construction work.

Are you willing to take the plunge and narrow your offering? What success stories can you tell?

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Customer feedback may be worth more than you think

Customer feedback may be worth more than you think

Our organization was engaged in a debate regarding customer and prospect preferences and behaviors. After a bit too much of, “I’m right, you are wrong,” someone wisely suggested surveying prospects to ask their preferences.

We created a short 14 question business owner survey and offered the proprietary results as “payment” for taking the time. This collective output would be valuable to an owner to compare their daily activities and preferences with like-minded peers.

As the results trickled in, we tried to find a way to speed up the collection process to hit our goal of 1000 business owners surveyed. Our marketing director noticed that Surveymonkey offers to find survey takers for you. She proceeded to the audience selection webpage and then saw the screen below.

 

Wow, $22.25 per survey taker! This changed our paradigm a bit. Here’s what was buzzing around our conference room:

  • It’s not unreasonable to charge $22.25 for a survey response, but boy oh boy does it add up quickly.
  • The input and collaboration we receive from our prospects and customers is a more valuable asset than we thought.
  • We need to do a better job proactively seeking input from customers, customer service reps, and salespeople that have increased visibility into customer trends.
  • The customer data we already possess has value and should not just sit on the shelf. Who can we co-mine this data with? What partners could benefit from our data? Could we trade our data with partners who have complimentary data?
  • We should constantly collect data rather than sporadically chase it when a specific need arises.

Most companies are not unlike ours and can benefit greatly from prospect and customer insights. Hopefully the information in this post will spur you to better understand your prospects and mine the gold you already have.

Do you feel you are maximizing your customer/prospect data? What can you do better?

 

 

 

 

 

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Anonymous Business Owner Survey

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world's leading questionnaire tool.


Fatal Error #27: Do they graduate or quit

Fatal Error #27: Do they graduate or quit

You are going to hate me for this one because I am going to tell you that you should WANT your best people to leave you.  No, I am not nuts.  I am simply a pragmatist.

Think about it.  If you have a true superstar, that once every 10 year person... can you really afford to pay him or her once he/she reaches their potential? Be honest - you can’t!

Therefore, you either hold them back in hopes that it takes them longer to figure out they have more potential than you can provide, or they leave on bad terms because they realizes you are trying to hold them back.

Here’s a better option: You let them grow as fast as they can.  You harness the power of their rising stardom.  You nurture and grow them and pay them as much as you can as long as you can. Then, you help them get that better job and celebrate it.

Now you have undying loyalty and gratitude from an employee that knows they could not have gotten there without you.

Think I am nuts?  Accounting firms have done this for years.  They hire the best and brightest out of school in huge numbers, knowing that only a fraction of them will be working there in 5 years.  Then they work hard to help these young auditors get jobs at their clients for big raises and big promotions.  Why?  Because guess who the auditor will be for that client?

Here’s the bottom line:  Ask yourself, do your best people quit you or do you graduate them?  There is no 3rd option.  If they are quitting you, you are failing them and yourself.  You can do better for them and your company will prosper as well.

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Extraordinary Guarantees and Your Business Model

I am a big fan of by Dr. Christopher Hart’s book, “Extraordinary Guarantees: A New Way to Build Quality Throughout Your Company Ensure Satisfaction for Your Customers.” In the book Dr. Hart lays out a blueprint for improving margins and sales via exceptional guarantees. He offers several examples including a powerful one of a New York company that captured a 60% share of their market with a product priced at double the normal rate.

I could not agree more with Dr. Hart’s commentary on guarantees as a powerful business model tactic. However, the business landscape is currently cluttered with guarantees that are anything but extraordinary. Here’s my personal hate list of lousy guarantees:

  • Price matching. Please-- you try to get away with overcharging me then offer me the same price I could have gotten elsewhere if I only would have been smart enough to go there first?
  • 110% price matching. This is a slightly less horrible option. I overpay at your store and now I can stand in line at customer service and duke it out for $3.44. Here’s the math. I buy an item for $53.12 but find it for $49.99 elsewhere. I get the $3.13 difference plus a whopping 10% bonus of $0.31. This is well worth my headache standing in line at customer service……right. I am guessing you, like me, have never taken anyone up on one of these unless it was over $50 or $100….if at all. So what’s the point of having the guarantee, to attract the hyper-price sensitive customers that are willing to stand in line for $3? It reminds me of the movie Christmas Vacation when the out-of-touch Grandmother offers the grandson a quarter to rub her bunions. She felt like a quarter was a nice reward. The grandson felt differently. This type guarantee offers too little reward for too much work.
  • Warranting an item for a period of time less than it should function problem free. I just bought a washer and dryer from a major manufacturer. Most of the machine is
    warranteed for a year. Whoopee! I fully expect a major branded appliance to last a year without breaking. That’s not a guarantee, that’s honoring your defects.
  • Scam-type guarantees. These guarantees seem too good to be true….and they are. Free toothpaste for life if you don’t love our new flavor. This sounds great until you realize you have to travel to Uruguay to visit the prescribed dentist to check you out prior to receiving your “free” toothpaste. A guarantee should make the customer more comfortable with the offering and quality of the product, not less.

Here’s an example of a guarantee done right. I recently stayed in a Crowne Plaza hotel and found the sign below by my alarm clock. We will wake you at your set time or your stay is free. No excuses or yabuts; no exceptions or *’s; and enough skin in the game to make it interesting and worth my while.

More companies need to leverage the power of extraordinary guarantees like Crowne Plaza. Dr. Hart suggests in his book that these guarantees increase customer satisfaction, allow for increased pricing, and force operational improvements (Crowne Plaza cannot afford to give away too many free nights so I am guessing they tightened up their wake up system).

What cool ideas have you seen companies use for extraordinary guarantees?

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Cool business model or waste of time

Cool business model or waste of time

The power of a brand

51XfcDZ3QGL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

Fix them or fire them?

Business Model Innovation for Speakers

Tide Basic

Unbranding and your business model

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/BusinessModelInstitute/~3/X_8YmMGXRAc/


Fix them or fire them?

The power of a brand

51XfcDZ3QGL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

Fix them or fire them?

Business Model Innovation for Speakers

Tide Basic

Unbranding and your business model

iStock_000005021610Small

Does a cool idea = a great business model?

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/BusinessModelInstitute/~3/ViK170AtmUg/


The power of a brand

The power of a brand

51XfcDZ3QGL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

Fix them or fire them?

Business Model Innovation for Speakers

Tide Basic

Unbranding and your business model

iStock_000005021610Small

Does a cool idea = a great business model?

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/BusinessModelInstitute/~3/oOb-5E3a22I/


Business Model Innovation for Speakers

Business Model Innovation for Speakers

Tide Basic

Unbranding and your business model

iStock_000005021610Small

Does a cool idea = a great business model?

Wheel with notation

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