You get your customers to come back more often to buy more and occasionally pay more by constantly providing them with relevant benefits (through your products, your service, and the total customer experience with your business) that are differentiated from all competitive options. That’s it. That’s how to succeed in business.
Relevant needs drive half of any person’s sense of value; differentiation drives the other half. Relevant benefits these days almost always fit into what we call the “Six C’s:” control, choice, change, customization, connection, and convenience.
So if you’re going to create a product or service that provides relevant benefits:
- It must give people a sense of more control over their personal/family security, their economic security, their health security, or control over big institutions. This doesn’t just mean insurance and health care; it goes for the simplest things we buy. Does this help me get control over bathroom mold? Does it help me get control over expensive soft drinks? Does it help me get control over the used car salesman?
- It must give people a new choice among all the other choices in the marketplace. We Americans love choice. And if you pay attention to almost any market shelf, it’s getting more and more crowded with new choices, and a lot of them are just variations on the usual choices (like “Mojito Ranch Flavored,” for example). Almost every retail outlet has made it easier for new ideas to find a place on those shelves. The barriers to entry in every market have never been lower.
- It must provide a change from what’s out there now, from what’s considered ordinary. It must have a sense of newness. That’s why so many of the brand flavor variations and extensions don’t work: they’re not really new. “New” changes the game in that market space. Change sells.
- It must be customized to the individual. For many decades, Americans accepted mass marketing’s concept of “one size fits all.” Tube socks were the poster child of that concept. But with an explosion of new choices provided by Internet search engines, most people now believe that if they look long and hard enough, they’ll find the “one size that fits just me.” Mass is over. Customization rules. You have to make it clear to your customer, no matter what it is you’re selling, that you will make it just right for them
- It must allow and facilitate connection to others who have similar needs, wants, tastes, and values. Obviously, this is as new as social networks, but it’s also CarFax, product reviews, and other means of providing transparency. Connecting your customer with other customers is a way of making sure they get the most out of the product. We find that the best customers not only know your product or service better than others, but also differently; they know special aspects of it, special benefits.
- And in our “anywhere, anytime” commercial environment, it must be super-convenient.
If you create a product or service with benefits that people in your market perceive as relevant, you’re halfway to success. The other half of creating real market value is differentiation. It’s not enough to meet people’s perceived needs and wants. You have to do it uniquely. Remember, scarcity creates value.
Adapted from One More Customer by Fran Tarkenton and Scott Miller