Quality. Service. Price. If you sell a product or offer a service, these are the three most important elements to consider as you build your brand. Knowing which one is most important to your customer, will help you determine a strategy that ultimately closes the sale.
A few months ago in my post titled, Realizing I Am Strategic, I introduced you to one of my best friends, Dorene Olsen. Dorene is owner of Savory Insights – a branding company that focuses on developing a company’s strategy. She’s amazing. If you’re trying to build your brand, you need to speak with her. In your conversations with her, she will help you analyze your product or service in a way you likely have never seen it and then provide a plan to get you to exactly where you would like to (or should) take your brand.
During my monthly pow-wow conversation with her yesterday, we talked about why people buy. It boiled down to three basic elements:
I know, I know… you’ve heard this over and over, but have you really thought about these in relation to your own product or service.
People shop at Walmart – Why? The answer is clear… Price. Walmart has some of the lowest prices around for the products they sell. It’s pretty much a self-serve store, so you likely don’t shop there looking for personal service. Nor, do you expect the clothing you purchase there to last more than a short time.
On the other hand, Walmart is a great place to shop for home and bath products that you know you may only need for a short time (childrens toys, summer t-shirts, sponges) or those that have to be replaced often (laundry detergent, food items, fertilizer). Walmart has built their brand around Price and clearly advertise that they have the lowest prices compared to their competitors.
On the other hand, let’s consider Nordstrom’s strategy.
While Nordstrom’s store may be of similar square-footage to that of Walmart, Nordstrom’s strategy is so focussed on personal service and providing the best shopping experience for their customer that price rarely even enters the minds of their customers. Nordstrom has built their brand around a high-end customer shopping experience. Service.
Finally, you have Quality.
We all want a quality product that will last us for the time frame we think we need it to last.
Let me say that again – “…for the time we think we need it to last.”
Each customer’s concept of this is different. For products purchased from Walmart, that time-frame may be much shorter than the products purchased from Nordstrom. Is your customer one that discards their summer t-shirts after one or two seasons or do they want them to last several years. Does your customer decorate with the current trends and change their style often, or do they prefer to decorate with timeless pieces once and not have to worry about it again for 5 or 10 years.
Now, that’s not to say that Nordstrom only focuses on service. If they did but didn’t offer a quality product, then people would notice and not pay the higher price. Walmart does their best to say they also offer service, but we all know the quality of their products is not high-end.
Quality… Price… Service.
The Pick Two strategy is based on the premise that no business can offer a product or service of the highest quality, providing the best service at the lowest price. The concept is up for debate but does have merit.
Consider the fact that Home Depot offers tons of quality products that are very similar to those you’d find at your local hardware store. Home Depot can usually beat the small, local retailer on price and yes, they do their best to offer the service; but have you ever shopped there on a Saturday morning and tried to get find a salesperson? Yes, it can be done, but not nearly as easily as if you were in your local store. To that local store, he knows he cannot win on price so they will go out of their way to offer a better personal shopping experience – service.
Now, let’s relate all of this to the product or service you offer.
Quality… Price… Service
Which one of these elements do you feel you can offer to make you stand above or at least be competitive with your competition?
I’ll use my own products as an example.
One of the products I offer is custom-painted furniture. I sell primarily on CraigsList. CraigsList is notoriously known for being like a yard-sale site where customers can get very low prices on furniture. Competing on price here is an uphill battle. Early on I decided I want to market to an upper-middle class market that had the income to purchase unique, custom-painted pieces.
Should I focus on service? Somewhat, but with CraigsList the initial inquiry is conducted primarily through email and then the final sales interaction can last nearly minutes. Service here is important in that you treat every customer with a level of respect and comes into play even more after the initial sale. I may offer then my business card and kindly say… “if you ever are looking for any other furniture pieces, please keep me in mind.”
Where I can really stand out from my competition on CraigsList is Quality. I use quality paints, apply several coats of paint, stains, waxes, or whatever products the furniture requires to make it like new again. I want my customers to know that I put a lot of work into the refinished piece of furniture they are purchasing so they know they are bringing a clean, well-painted, quality piece of furniture into their home.
My strategy… Quality first. Service second. In this case I did “pick two”.
A second example is the sidelight window panels I make and sell. Here again, my strategy is Quality first. Price second. The reason is that right now I only sell a standard size online by mail order. There’s very little to no interaction with the customer; so instead I position these panels as unique, well-made sidelight window panels that are unlike any other on the market. While they are priced a bit higher than standard panels you may find at a big box store, they are not the same design so I can get away with setting my own price (which I try to keep reasonable for buyers).
As you consider what your strategy will be to build your brand, think about who you want your customers to be.
Is it male or female? What is their income level? Are they single or married? Do they have children or pets? This is how you determine your demographics and the first step in writing your marketing plan. More on that in a later article.
Choose the number one element you can offer your customers… Quality… Price… or Service.
Then maybe choose a secondary element.
Once you have an understanding of your customer and how you want to approach them, you will be able to write better sales copy and even a better tag line that briefly explains to your customers who you are and why they should shop with you.
Thank you & Enjoy!