September 2013 - c3centricity | c3centricity

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HELP! Your Customers don’t Value you as much as you do!

Have you noticed how extra “freebies” are always suggested to have an extremely high value, sometimes close to the level of the product you’re thinking of buying? Last week I spoke about the best 10-step process for following and developing your br and / corporate image. This week I want to speak primarily about value, an important area of any image.

I have just returned from another trip to the US; the Americans are, amongst many other things, the champions of exaggeration (apologies to all my American friends, but it’s true!) Here are a few examples I saw during my recent trip – thanks to my jetlag and my late night TV binges – of valuations of extras offered for free with the sale of various products:

  • Three additional CD’s are valued at $59.99, when the proposed product’s asking price is 3X $39.99 or almost $120
  • A set of plastic measuring cups valued at $39.99 and a recipe book valued at $79.99 are offered free when you purchase a $129.99 express cooker
  • Mini samples of other products when you buy a “starter kit” of cosmetics, valued at twice (!) the price of the product you are buying – which is incidentally already grossly overpriced.

Do the companies making these offers really believe that people will purchase the product they are advertising because of the value of the “free” extras? Or is it me that doesn’t underst and their motivations? We have all become used to the exaggerated claims of the products offered on TV in these infomercials, but have you noticed how they are now creeping into online offers too?

This post was in fact prompted by a recent email I received from what until then I had judged to be a serious resource for tips on social media best practices. If I signed up for a bi-weekly newsletter service, I was offered two “free” eBooks totalling 130 pages between them and valued at $157! Come on, be serious! How many books do you know that are worth almost $80 each? Even those filled with lots of glossy colour photos are usually on sale for less than that. And to make matters worse, with the explosion of self-publishing, many excellent books are being offered at below the Kindle royalty threshold of $9.99 these days.

My reaction was to immediately cancel my subscription to the person’s newsletters; if he can claim such prices for his eBooks, perhaps his tips were just hot air claims too. I do get upset by companies which are stupid enough to think they can fool their potential or even current customers into buying something because of an over-valued freebie. So let’s talk value and look a little more closely at what customers think about the value of your own products / services.

Setting the Price

Setting your price to reflect customer valueWhilst you can put a price on your offer – in fact you will certainly do this before launch, with or without the help of your customers – it is only once it is on the market that customers will confirm its true value. If you over-price your offer, your product will either fail or will have to be sold at a constant discount. I wrote about the danger of continual discounts in my post “ Are you on the way to br and heaven or hell?” which concluded with the thought that the slippery slope of price-cutting ends in turning your br and into a commodity bought on price alone.

 

 

Underst anding your Value

The journey to customer valueThere is a big difference between price and value. Hopefully you are (no longer?) pricing your product based upon its cost and then adding your margin. If you have correctly identified your customers’ need and have produced a product that meets or hopefully surpasses these needs, then the price your customer is willing to pay can be higher than its actual cost. This is why it is essential to start new product development by observing and listening to your customers.

Communicating your Value

Communicating your value through dvertisingIn contrast, from C3Centricity’s recent work on luxury watch communications, Terry Villines of our partner PhaseOne wrote a guest post about the essentials of value which can be applied to any category. It is called “ Is your br and worth paying more for?”.

In it Terry speaks about the six specific types of benefits found among br and messages wanting to imply premiumness. These were:

 

  1. Product innovation – your br and brings a new or enhanced benefit to the category.
  2. Human Worth – by tapping into the target’s self-esteem, a br and communicates how they are worthy of the more costly br and
  3. Unique Production Process – the way in which the product is made results in the delivery of a more significant benefit
  4. Premium imagery – associating the br and with other things that are premium in nature
  5. Higher performance than competing br ands
  6. Endorsement by a credible authority

These six elements will indeed suggest added value or premiumness, but if your product does not live up to your customers’ expectations they won’t be happy – and in today’s world your sales will be immediately impacted, thanks to social media. Therefore it makes sense to make a good estimation of the value of your product and then if necessary see how you can substantiate it with additional communication elements as detailed above.

Is your product correctly priced or are you forced into a price war to maintain sales? If so then you are already on the “stairway to hell”. If you aren’t (yet?) then you should ensure that your communications and product quality are always in line with your customers’ ever increasing dem ands. Keeping your finger on the pulse of the market will maintain your br and at the forefront of changing market conditions and dem ands and will enable you to defend your pricing without the need for price cuts. That way you can use discounts to attract new customers rather than to keep your current ones alone.

What do you do to guarantee your br and is priced correctly? I’d love to hear your own ideas. Need help in knowing more about pricing and value identification? Let us help you catalyse your customer centricity; contact us here.

C³Centricity uses images from  Dreamstime.com  and  Kozzi.com

What is your Brand Image & What does it Stand for? Ten Steps to Perfect Brand Image Following

Do you want to improve your brand image or that of your company? Silly question; of course you do. Who doesn’t? But do you know how to do so? The first essential is knowing where you are, before you can identify how to get where you want to be. If you are interested in some tips on how to improve your own image following then read on.

I was recently contacted by a company that needed help improving its image. They had already started conducting market research but realised very quickly that they needed more than that. I reviewed what they had already done and the next steps they were planning and I was extremely happy. Not because of all the work in progress but rather because they had called me in. I was able to save them both time and money, as well as considerable effort in all the low value-added work they were doing and planning.

From that experience I came up with the following ten point plan for all companies wishing to improve their brand and company image.

What is your image today?

Magnified customer with a great br and imageThe company I referred to above had already started doing market research to measure their image. Unfortunately what they were doing was going to be of little if any use to them in setting the baseline of where their image is today. This is what they should have done:

#1. Identify the most important attributes on which you want your brand to be measured; remember to include rational, emotional and relational items
#2. Add the major attributes associated with your most important competitors
#3. Run a quantitative measurement using these attributes
#4. Analyse images amongst different category user groups

These first four steps will help you identify exactly where you are today and how your image compares to your competitors.

What do you want your image to be?

Happy man with a great br and imageOnce you know where you are, you need to identify what changes you would like to make. Are some of your desired image attributes weak, whilst others which are of less importance are (too) strong?

#5. Identify the similarities and difference between your brand and its major competitors
#6. Choose a maximum of three changes you want to make over the next year; it is unrealistic to try to impact more and three will already be a challenge, even with an important communication’s budget

How are you going to change your image?

Man with TV advertisingOnce you have decided on the three attributes you want to build, identify how you are going to strengthen them. Identify:

#7. Which media and shopping habits do your user group have and how do they fit with your current activities?
#8. What is the overlap with your major competitors and are there any gaps from which you could benefit to make your budgets go further?
#9. Plan your improved communications and shopper marketing plans
#10. Plan a new image measurement

These are the ten simplified steps to measuring and following your brand / company image. By following them you will get a solid basis on which to build a better image.

I would like to add one additional comment on corporate branding. If you have more than one brand, it would be important to continue with research into the fit between brand and corporate images. Your image might be exactly what you want it to be, but if there is a mismatch with your corporate brand image, this could damage both in the long term.

How many of these steps do you do and are there any you ignore? Why? Do you include further steps during your own process? If so I would love to hear what I’ve missed; just drop me a comment in the box below and I’ll respond right back.

Is Apple’s Latest News, Good or Bad? How to Exceed your Customers’ Expectations

Apple’s news this week made some people excited whilst others were disappointed. Whichever “side” you were on, Apple’s challenge these days seems to be to not only meet, but exceed the extremely high expectations of their customers. Thanks to continuous innovation and their previous exciting launches, people have come to expect great things from them. This is why so many were somewhat disappointed with the “small” innovations announced this week.

This got my thinking about how we condition our customers to expect certain things from us, by the very nature of our actions, promotions and new product launches. This is why it is vital to always surpass these expectations whenever we can. It keeps our br and fresh in our customers’ eyes and renews their confidence in their choice of us.

Are you confident that you are constantly doing everything you can to surprise and delight your customers, to ensure you keep your competitive advantage? If you hesitate, read on; I have some ideas for you.

Hospitality

Dove Creek LodgeLast year, on one of my regular trips to the US, I stayed one night in a small lodge on Key Largo in Florida. If I hadn’t prepared my trip by checking out possible places to stay on Tripadvisor before I left, I wouldn’t have known about it, as it is hidden by greenery, even though it is on the main US 1 highway. I would highly recommend this lodge (Dove Creek Lodge) if you are in the area; not only does it offer great value for money, but they are very customer centric. They couldn’t do enough for me, even though I was only there for one night.

What touched me in particular, was the way they appeared to search for ways to surprise and delight their clients in everything they did; far beyond what you would expect, even from a star-rated hotel. For example, instead of plates of fruit, meats and vegetables for breakfast as is usual, they presented the same foods, but as sweet and savoury kebabs. Rather than serving a large bowl of yoghurt for everyone to dip into, they presented delicate glass cups filled with Greek yoghurt, fruit and granola, or graham biscuits with key lime cream. The whole stay was perfect but there is every chance that I will remember it longer than other places in which I have stayed, because I was surprised and delighted by that original breakfast presentation.

Replacement Products

OK so you think that you have satisfied your customer when sending a replacement for a (perceived) faulty product? How about sending it express delivery, so they get it in record time? This will amplify your already good customer service and your customers will be delighted. Many companies add coupons as an extra, especially in the US, but those don’t delight or surprise any more.

You could offer samples of new products as well, but just make sure they are relvant to the customer- I recently received a “normal” version of a “hypo-allergenic” product I had returned due to an allergy! Clearly this was not personalized, so disappointed rather than delighted me.

Coffee Houses & Bakeries

Customer expectations satisfied with coffeeInstead of the usual fillings of bakery items, how about adding “surprise” additions. For example, how about jam donuts with jam and cream cheese for an added, surprising delight – I actually had this at the Bagel Isl and, Big Pine Key and would love to go back again to try some of their other surprising offers.

I have also bought chocolates with very creative flavours, both savoury and sweet, that were given as samples with my brew in a coffee house. I was delighted to have found something original to present to my guests and they were surprised and delighted to have also discovered soemthing new. The chocolates certainly got my guests talking and enjoying the chanllenge of guessing the ingredients when they tasted and shared the chocolates!

Car Rental

Alamo  and National, and maybe others I am not aware of, offer their customers the full choice of cars to rent  within their reserved price range, rather than the company deciding which car they will give to each renter. This way, you feel that you have far more choice and are in control of your rental agreement, much more so than you do with other companies.

Recognition can also be shown to regular customers through a last-minute free upgrade, especially at busy times of the year when certain models are unavailable. People rarely complain if they are given a better service than they expected, but almost always when their exected desires are not met.

I have also received a small attention on leaving the parking of some rental companies – a bottle of water in summer, a CD of seasonal music at Christmas, Halloween c andies in October. It is not so much the small gift as the surprise that delights.

Airlines

Many airlines are now offering premium economy service, where their clients are treated, at least on the ground, like a business traveler, rather than as an economy passenger. The first time this happens, it comes as a pleasant surprise and I can imagine will likely make their passengers more loyal to the service and perhaps also to the airline in the future, in the same way as complementary upgrades do / did.

Consumer Packaged Goods

Extra ingredients or novel packaging ideas that add sensorial experiences to the product, can bring memorable experiences even to commoditized products. For example, Nestlé brought out a cream desert that had a chocolate layer you cracked with your spoon; Herbal Essence shampoos had significant success with special perfumes; Pantene ProV with its unique pack colours and solid “clunking” lid closure; Bud Light Premium which sells in an unusual rich, blue bottle; scratch patches on air fresheners and laundry products. There are many ways to add additional surprising sensorial experiences to your offers, you just have to think like your target customer and know what would delight them.

Offering surprising and delighting extras is one way to make your customers remember your product or service, and almost guarantee repurchase and loyalty, since competitive products don’t have them. Surprising your customers makes an emotional bond that intensifies their experience, so they will remember not only your br and, but also the additional pleasure that is relived each time they think about it. Price also then becomes less of a factor of choice and enables you to weather the storm of a competitive environment and helps you getting involved in price-wars.

So what can you do differently, to surprise and delight your own customers? Think about what you or your category competitors normally do, but then do it in a slightly different way. Customers will be woken from their mindless, habitual behaviour, and will be made to sit up and take more notice of what you are offering. 

As you saw from the above examples, these extras don’t need to cost a lot to be unexpected, they just need to be in some way related to your product so the link remains in the customer’s mind next time they go shopping. 

What other ways have you found to surprise and delight your customers? Have you, yourself been delighted by a special touch you have found in a product or service? Please share your ideas below.

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This post has been adapted from one which first appeared on C³Centricity Dimensions on March 23rd 2012

Are you Actually Training or Educating? Become a Master in 6 Easy Steps

I once read that training is only for animals, not for humans, and that I should be doing adult educating not giving training courses! However, whichever word you prefer to use, I hope that like me you enjoy both teaching and learning. One of my personal mantras is that:

“A day without learning is a day without living”

and I strive to find something new to appreciate every day.

 

Several of my major clients have recently asked me for help in improving their br and building efforts. Whilst this is certainly a good objective, I do wonder sometimes how many courses and workshops really make a difference to the way things are done. I am not dismissing workshops at all, in fact I regularly give training courses but I do underst and that it can be a challenge to share knowledge when facing a roomful of adults, peers, or even worse, bosses.

Adult learning is very different from teaching younger people in that by nature we are not as open to change, preferring to stay with our habits, even when we are shown that a new way of thinking or doing might be better. As if that isn’t bad enough, we also generally don’t like group-learning experiences led by a professional.

Since I know many of you get involved in adult training within your own organisations, I thought it would be useful for me to share some of my own learnings, to help you do it with even more success.

To quote one of my favourite masters, Confucius:

“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I underst and”

Keeping this in mind and applying it to adult learning here are my 6 tips:

Unhappy, disappointed man

#1. Underst and the motivations of your audience

Adults usually have high, some may say unrealistice, expectations or courses, so it is important to clearly articulate and clarify objectives within the first hour. Collect and review them from all participants before you get into the content. Do this again at the end of the course to get agreement from everyone on whether or not they have been met. If people believe that they have been heard, they are much more likely to at least be open to considering the new ideas and processes you will share during the course.

Participants will also have many different reasons for attending a workshop or training session and you need to accept that perhaps very few will have actually chosen to be there. They might therefore resent their (m andatory) participation, have little if any interest in the topic you will be covering, and possible no respect for your own experience and knowledge, nor for the ideas you have to share. Whilst it is unlikely that you will make them all change their minds over the short duration of the course, it is critical that you become aware of these sentiments, as they will remain undercurrents whether you like it or not.

 

#2. Keep sessions very focused

The above mentioned (lack of) motivation will also mean that adult learners tend to be less interested in st andard courses, because they feel they are different from (superior to?) most of the other participants. They are more likely to prefer courses around one precise concept or idea, and which will focus specifically on the application of the tools and processes designed to respond to a relevant problem or opportunity.

It is therefore usually better to run a number of shorter one-topic sessions, than a week-long course covering several different ideas around a subject, if at all possible. These shorter session will most probably improve the likelihood of participants actually actioning their learnings afterwards. In addition, they will reduce, if not completely eliminate, the need for frequent interruptions or absences due to the dem ands of the every-day work environment. (C3Centricity runs 1-Day Catalyst training sessions; check them out HERE)

 

#3. Build new learning on top of known processes and tools

Process wheelParticipants will bring a large amount of their own experiences into the classroom, which can be a tremendous asset if you can tap into it. They will learn much better if you can engage them in dialogue. It will anyway be difficult to stop most of them from sharing their ideas and opinions, so it is better to control rather than trying to prevent them from doing so.

People are not naturally open to learning new tools, processes and ways of thinking, so you are likely to meet with more success if you base your new ideas on what is already known. Build and exp and on current processes, showing how the additions and changes will be more beneficial. Learning is a means to an end for adults, not an end in itself, as it is for most kids. Increasing or maintaining participants’ sense of self-esteem is a strong secondary motivator; adults can take errors very personally, so they tend to take fewer risks and push to defend known solutions rather than to try new approaches.

 

#4. Vary speed

Adults have a similarly short attention span to children, but not for the same reasons. Again whether due to a lack of willingness to consider different ways of working, or a (misplaced?) feeling of superiority, adults will want things to progress fast and will lose interest if the program is not presented at their own personally preferred rhythm.

For this reason you should vary the speed of sessions, covering some topics deeply and others more quickly and superficially. Don’t worry about missing in thoroughness though, as you can always go back to resume and deepen the topic later in the day or in a follow-up session should someone request it.

 

#5. Include breakout sessions

Group session

Another solution to this increased likelihood for boredom is to provide more frequent breakout sessions. Whereas in normal workshops a coffee / tea break is provided in addition to lunch, you should include more reasons to have people get up and move around.
Use group breakout exercises, physical tasks, sortings, puzzles, Q&As and even exercise or races to get the juices flowing in mind and body and revitalise their enthusiasm.

 

 

#6. Contests and competitions

Adults are very competitive, especially when workshops are being run internally where people know each other, even if only by reputation. Being able to beat the boss or lead a team, make the learning even more enjoyable. The contests could be as simple as the exercises mentioned above, or a full blown case study to be completed during the workshop. And don’t forget the prizes; however small, people love surprises and adults in particular appreciate them, as they become a rare occasion as we grow older.

Following these six tips for improving your own training sessions should help you achieve even greater success and perhaps more importantly lead to increased enjoyment for both you and the participants.

Have I forgotten something? What other ideas do you have for making adult learning more enjoyable? I would love to hear about your own tricks and tips for improving the learning experience for us all.

Do you have a question or challenge about adult training? Check out our offers at:  https://www.c3centricity.com/training or contact us here for a chat about your needs.

Images used here were sourced from Microsoft.com

This post was adapted from one that was first published Febraury 23rd  2012 on C³Centricity Dimensions.

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