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It’s not your products, dummy!

By - Last modified: April 3, 2013 at 4:35 PM

A natural follow-on to the last installment, in which we talked about understanding your customers in terms of what they care about most, is a parallel, deeper understanding of what they are buying versus what you think you are selling.

I find businesses all the time that are driving customers to their doors with attributes than have very little to do with what they’re actually selling. They come for what I call “collateral benefits.”

But because “features, functions, convenience and price” are still so ingrained in our thinking as the dominant factors in selling, we fail even to consider all the other things that enter into customers’ decisions about who to “reward” with their purchases.

Largely because of the Internet -- which links us to immediate substitutes with comparable “features, functions, convenience and price” for nearly everything we want -- other factors are rising rapidly as the determining factors in purchase decisions.

So what do you do?

Starting from the point of what you think your customers care about most, begin considering all the ways you might adjust every aspect of your business, and of the experience your business delivers to your customers, to match up with their greatest interests.

This means rethinking how your business makes customers feel every time you touch them. The phone call. The look and navigation of your site. What it feels like to approach, arrive and enter your premises. How people are greeted. What you can give them “for free” that they’ll appreciate. Maybe no more than knowing their names and smiling. Your willingness to do whatever it takes to make something right for them or someone they care about. Your role in the community. And the nonbusiness causes you support.

Shift your focus from transactions to the total persona of your business. And how well this persona matches the persona that will endear itself naturally to your target customers. Because today, unless you control a truly unique offering that a lot of people need, who you are -- this persona of your business -- is the uniqueness you’ve got sell.

This kind of thinking is critical now. And it has to start at the top.


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