As business owners and entrepreneurs we can be our own worst enemies. Firstly, we are overly passionate about what we do, and secondly we are highly critical about what we deliver in terms of our product or service. The first is dangerous because we can be so passionate that we just can’t understand WHY people aren’t buying from us. The latter only adds to the problem, because when they do buy, we are hesitant to ask for customer feedback… in case we didn’t meet expectations.
The Result – we REALLY don’t know if we are delivering a product or service that is different and exceptional. And, if we aren’t providing SOMETHING that is different and exceptional, then guess what… we can kiss that business goodbye!
One of the often-overlooked, but key, components of marketing is testing whether we really have a product or service that is in demand. The scary thing is, we can spend a ton of money and time on savvy promotional activities and then see only minimal results because we AREN’T delivering!!
Companies that are true success stories have created something that makes them exceptional. It might be the taste of the cookie (Mrs. Fields), the experience in the coffee bar (Starbucks), the predictability, price and speed of the burger (McDonald’s) or the status and performance that comes from the vehicle (Ferrari).
So are you really providing a superior product or service or experience? When was the last time you checked on this? How do you find out?
If you are saying ABSOLUTELY… then I’m double-daring you to prove it. If you aren’t sure, then congratulations, you have a realistic and healthy outlook on your business. If you are pretty sure you DON’T have a good product or service, it’s time to make some drastic changes NOW or GET OUT of what you are doing.
The best way to improve upon your product or service is to continuously get feedback from your clients. But here is the kicker. YOU can’t ask them because they will always find something good to say to you. But when someone else asks on your behalf, and there is a level of anonymity, watch out. Now you will get some REAL feedback (if it’s done properly).
There are a couple of ways you can ask your customers or target audience. One is through anonymous online surveys using software such as www.surveymonkey.com.
The other is to ask them over the phone or in person. The first is fast and cost-effective, but response rates are typically dismally low. The latter may take longer and cost more, but will provide you with much more robust feedback.
Find out why they chose you, and if the product/service met their expectations. Find out what they benefited from the most and what they would improve. Consider holding a client advisory board where your very best clients are in the room, and then, with the help of a very effective moderator, ask them one question – “If they ran your business, what would they change or do differently?”
When is the last time you scoped out your competition? This is something we tend to stop doing shortly after starting our business, but really, we should keep a handle on it all the time (realistically, even once a year would be great)! Ghost-shop them as a potential customer, scour their websites, test your differentiations by asking them specific questions. Run blind comparisons with your target audience.
In a nutshell, if you want to keep your marketing dollars at a minimum, then over deliver on your product offering. The good gossip (a phrase coined by my good girlfriend Kim Duke, the Sales Diva) will take care of the rest!
What can you do TODAY to make your product or service EXCEPTIONAL?
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