Adding value to what you're selling is a great way of ensuring new customers turn into loyal, long term customers. But is it as easy as it sounds?
One of the best ways of describing what adding value means is ‘enhancing your offering to match the price of it’. In other words, in addition to your core product, your customer gets value for the excess dollars he is paying you.
Adding value to a product or service you are offering can be done in many ways. The possibilities are endless. The more ways identified of adding value, the more doors open to the possibilities of adding value to anything of concern. Here are some ways that you too can add value to your business or product offering.
Way #1 - Raise the Bar
Raising the bar is the ultimate competitive strategy when playing in a highly saturated, competitive market. It makes you likable to the press and boosts your image as a market leader. When you raise the bar, you leave all your competitors exposed and sitting dead in the water. When you have elevated your business by raising the industry standard, picking holes in your competitors products is as easy as shooting fish in a barrel. Upon properly communicating your new stance, you can position your business as the new market leader overnight and none of your competitors can do much about it unless they raise the bar again themselves. Then you’re left standing dead in the water and exposed.
Raising the bar means to elevate your offerings to a higher standard within the industry you’re participating in. For example, we all remember the time when Nokia was dominating the mobile phone industry. Every Tom, Dick & Harry had a Nokia or could at least do a decent half hour lecture on how Nokia was the mobile phone of choice. And then Apple raised the bar with the iPhone. Nokia was left naked and exposed. Touch screen, elegant design, proprietary OS, superior camera technology and superior ‘look & feel’ were just a few of the features that helped Apple raise the bar in the mobile phone industry.
Way #2 - Delight
Delighting your customer nearly always, if not always, will help you ascend a few rungs up the ladder of your customers mind which is home to familiarity and preference of choice. Usually the objective is to put a smile on your customers face. The bigger the smile, the better the results.
Delighting your customer helps you unlock the rewards gained through the subtle art of Word of Mouth . But don’t for one second think delighting your customer is easy. Not all of them buy stuff from you with the same level of expectations. And not all of them are easily delighted. The trick is to understanding what your customer expects from your product, where they are most likely to use it for the first time after buying it from you, and how likely are they going to make a second purchase and when in the near future do you foresee that happening.
Once you have identified these basics, they should be able to give you a much clearer idea on the tools you are going to use to help you delight your customer.
Here’s an example of how you could delight your customer. An inexpensive complimentary gift that actually complements usage of the product your customer bought from you. So your customer bought a grinder from you, why not gift a few hundred grams of something she could grind, like may be quality coffee beans or pepper seeds. But keep in mind you can’t surprise someone if they already know what the surprise is. So ideally, stuff your complimentary gift in the packaging of the original item that your customer bought and don’t tell her about it. When she opens it, there she sees a little cute bag of coffee waiting to be grounded with maybe a little cute note from your store. Do you see the smile on her face?
Let’s assume she’s in her early thirties, an independent young lady, just married and looking to make a comfortable home. Imagine the delight she will experience. Let’s also add a smartphone, a facebook, a twitter and an instagram account to our customer. Your sale is about to go viral.
But here’s a little something you should keep in mind. If internet virality is what you’re aiming for, don’t give everyone the same complimentary gift. Make it interesting. Give everyone something new. That way people will not have to post the same complimentary gift all over the internet. Variety is the spice of life. Variety is what keeps people talking. Talking is what makes Word of Mouth marketing happen.
The value here to your customer is that, in addition to putting a smile on her face, you have also given her something to do with her new purchase.
Way #3 - Incentive to come back for more
Creating an incentive to come back for more can be tricky. You want your customer to want to come back for more, but at the same time you don’t want your customer to feel manipulated or tricked into coming back for more. The secret is pretty straightforward. Always give your customer what she came for in the first place. In addition to meeting her expectations for her initial purchase, you offer a little teaser of the next product you wanna sell her.
Let’s use the same example as above. There’s this lady who came to your shop to buy a grinder from you. And let’s say you’re running an electronics appliances store. Through having a friendly (not flirty, friendly) conversation with her while you are helping her choose her grinder, you could always find out what other appliances she is interested in having in her home.
Figure out what she’s most interested in and offer to give her a small discount on it if she buys that within the next few days or so. The trick to retaining customers in the long run is not by offering huge discounts but rather by positioning yourself as the preferred vendor for all electronic appliances she may need for her home. To do that you have to become part of her purchasing decision process. If your customer has chosen you as a preferred vendor for three or more purchases you have more than likely become a part of their buying habit. They buy from you. Since you've already made a new customer, why not invest a little of your time in retaining her as a long term customer?
The value you have added here to your customer is that when she wants to buy another electronic appliance, she doesn't have to go over her vendor list all over again. She knows if she comes to you, you will sell it to her at a discounted price and will also probably delight her again.
Way #4 - Make your customer a valued part of your business
Everybody likes to be appreciated. If your customer has bought from you a few times and is happy with the purchases she has made from you, keeping in touch with her is a lot easier than you think. Every now and then talking to her and figuring out where your products fail will make most of your customers feel valued. Of course there will always be a few who are almost impossible to keep happy no matter how hard you try. But don’t let this get in the way of keeping in touch with the rest of your customers.
Following from the same examples used above, calling your customer after a week to find out how the new grinder is working for her and whether she has any difficulty using it will probably be a relief to her as now she knows that you actually care about the products you sold. Also let her know whom she should get in touch with if she has comes across any difficulties when operating the grinder and if it does break down or requires new parts how she could do so.
These little things go a long way for both your business as well as your customer. Your business benefits by understanding how well your products stand in the market and for your customers by way of them knowing that they could always trust you for further purchases.
The value here you have added for your customer is that you regularly check to see if she has any trouble using the appliances you sold. The value you have to added to your business is that your customer trusts your store.
Way #5 - Buying from you is so damn easy
Your customer, either consciously or unconsciously went through a long decision making process to select you as the vendor she is going to buy from. Why add more obstacles along the journey to further delay the purchase? The second your customer has decided to buy from you, she should be able to buy. To ensure this, you have to keep your business up to date with current trends related to sales and payments .
What if the product you are selling is exactly what your customer wants to buy but cannot do so because you are unable to accept credit cards and she doesn't have enough cash. Invest in a POS terminal that can handle payments from all local credit and debit cards.
Today, your customer probably already knows the features of the product she is going to buy before she even steps into your shop. She is more than likely to ask you whether you have so and so brand and so and so model before you even ask her what she is looking for. In all likelihood she probably did a google search on ‘grinders’ and narrowed down her search to the exact appliance that matches her requirement. Following the google search she is going to be directed to a local vendor that sells the appliance of her choice. If you do not have an e-commerce site where she can know whether or not you sell this appliance, she is going to check out your competitors site. And if that is the case, you just lost a long term customer who would have promoted your store through word of mouth and viral posts.
The value you have added here for your customer is that your customer can checkout the products you have from her home, where she needs it most. If you have added an internet payment gateway too, then she can even buy from you from home. You eliminate her costs of transport, dressing up and freeing up her schedule just so that she can make a purchase.
Way #6 - Bundled products
Bundling products is how you help your customers make optimum use of something they bought from you. Scores of vendors think that bundling products is a marketing gimmick where you package together slow moving goods with fast moving goods so that the slow movers will get a little push out the sales chute. But that is not how it should be. Customer satisfaction should be at the foremost of all bundling strategies.
Identify which other products you have that will complement the main purchase. If we were to use the same example of the lady buying a grinder as above, a good bundling of products would be the grinder as the main product with complementing goods that will allow the user optimize utilization of the grinder. Items such as inexpensive replacement parts for parts that get wasted in less than six months of rigorous use, a spare wire cord and a cleaning tool would go nicely. If you have a few more product ideas that would nicely complement the main purchase add them too but watch out as your selling price might exceed your customers budget.
It is not often that people come in to buy spare parts for home appliances and even if they do, trends and product models have changed so spares aren't readily available resulting in customer disappointment. But if you bundled in spares during the initial sale, your customer can probably use your appliance for a longer period of time, resulting in better product satisfaction.
The value added here for your customer is that she will not face disappointment because of not being able to utilize her grinder to its fullest. Or now she may be able to use other functions of the grinder she just bought that she would not necessarily have done.
Way #7 - Know your customer
Knowing your customer is a lot easier said than done. Some of us have had girlfriends for years and we still do not really understand them. Imagine trying to understand a customer you've spoken to less than half an hour. There are lots of things that you do not know about them. But within that half an hour, if you keep the conversation related to what you’re selling and what your customer is looking to buy, you will understand a lot about that person’s buying decisions and how her decisions are made.
Things to look for in a conversation of this kind is to understand where your customer is from, what she does, what she is going to use your product for, how often she will use your product, does she know how to use your product or whether she is an expert in using products similar to yours and so on. To put simply, you should be able to figure out why she walked in to your shop and what you need to do to put a smile on her face when she goes home and uses your product. Last but not least, find out what it is about what you have to offer that will make her come back to buy more stuff from you.
See, what you are effectively doing by selling a product or a service is that you are solving a problem your customer has. Your customer needs ground coffee beans to make her morning coffee. So you offer her a grinder that can grind coffee beans for her. In exchange for her dollars, you are giving her an appliance that will grind coffee beans for her. If you do this task properly (it’s actually business) she will regard you as a decent problem solver for similar problems.
The value add for her is that she doesn't have to research to find out about other electronic appliances she may need later on. All she needs to do is visit your store and you will help her out in a manner that no e-commerce site could achieve without the human touch.
Finally, Since we've talking about selling a coffee grinder for 6/7ths of this piece, I wouldn't be surprised if you were craving for a steaming cup of fresh ground coffee. So, here’s How to grind coffee beans.