Add value, get value

Updated on: Jul 06, 2011
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Customers are not numbers to small businesses; they are people and that is your innate advantage over the big boys, says Jeffrey W. Hayzlett in The Mirror Test: Is your business really breathing? ( > ). And those customers expect you to know them and their business as well as they do, he notes.

To emphasise that you can add value without adding cost by focusing on the little things, the author narrates how when he owned his printing company, he always knew when customers had not placed their usual orders for stationery or invoices, items that usually got used up in the course of a year. “So, I contacted them and said, ‘Hey it has been a year since you ordered stationery, and based on your previous use, it's probably time to order more. Oh and if you order this week, you get a free box of embossed envelopes.”

Attention to customers

Though the customers did not know that the ‘free' envelopes cost Hayzlett next to nothing compared to the overall order, what he found out was that a little can seem like a lot when it is delivered by someone who clearly listens to you, remembers your business, and thoughtfully considers what else you might like to order. “In fact, today, companies like Netflix and Fingerhut pay millions for algorithms that help them infer what a customer might like or need to buy based on purchases and other customer details. Small businesses need to make sure they pay close attention to their customers. Thinking this way and executing on the ideas is how they build a reputation for value with their customers: by actually valuing them.”

Even when your business is breathing well, your marketing is solid, your sales closed, and your service finished, your work is not done, the author instructs. From the moment your customers walk in the door through the completion of the sale and then in between that sale and the next, you need to think constantly about adding value, he urges.

Macro marketing on a micro budget

“The opportunity is available to anyone, so stop making excuses that you just don't have the time. From small moments of added generosity to high-tech equivalents, finding ways to add value without adding cost is one of the simplest ways to connect with your customers – it is the definition of macro marketing on a micro budget.” More importantly, as Hayzlett points out, your brand depends on the value addition; for, a brand is a promise, one that you must deliver to gain customers and keep them coming back and buying more, and a great business has a clear value proposition in everything it does.

Apart from adding value, think of ‘getting value' in all parts of your business, be it from employees, or vendors, exhorts Hayzlett. Look at your sales, marketing, and advertising plans and ask hard questions about whether the value and sales you get justifies the cost, whether they allow you to do more than simply broadcast your message, and if they use traditional and new media models to work for your audience, he guides. And the simple message from the ‘Value' section in the book is that to add and get value in your business, “you need to know what works – and what does not – for you.”

Ready-to-implement ideas that can make a difference to bottom line.


Published on July 07, 2011

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