What are your customers really buying?

f you take a closer look at the list of areas for discussion when starting to craft a vision statement, you would notice that our list begins with “customers.”

So what are your customers really buying?

It seems like a simple enough question. Yet it is at the core of designing your marketing and strategy. It requires you to have an in-depth, pinpoint knowledge of what your customers think and feel they are purchasing rather than what you think you are selling. It is from the point-of-view of your customers only that the question is of any value.

Everyone says they have the best, most reliable, highest quality, most complete array of features at the lowest possible prices! No one is out there saying that his product is expensive, narrowly featured, of low quality, and only marginally useful! Since everyone makes the same claims, you can be certain that your customers are not reacting to the claims. Your customers must, in fact, be reacting to something else. Your customers are reacting to something personal.

McDonald’s is not selling hamburgers. Domino’s is not selling pizza. McDonald’s sells speed (fast food) but also fun and nutrition. Domino’s sells time. Your value becomes much clearer – once you’ve looked deeply at what your customers are buying. Yet, making that determination was not as easy as it seems in retrospect, or as you’re about to discover when you participate in this process.

You are about to engage in creating the benefit of your product or service expressed as your Unique Selling Proposition. That proposition should not be trivial. In fact, the more emotionally based or financially based these benefits are, the better. If you can get in both, you’ve hit a home run! Which emotions? Hope, fear, love, happiness, fitness, value. This is where you want to head.

Once you begin to think this way, it will alter how you represent what you do.

I had the privilege of hearing a presentation from two of the foremost business coaches, Jay Abraham and Chet Holmes. Jay and Chet had an interesting way of framing and expressing the work that one does so that its value is both clear and intriguing to the listener.

Imagine that you’re sitting on an airplane and the person next to you asks, “what do you do?” You say, “I do this.” (Sell donuts, clean carpets, etc.) While that is true, it is not what the product is to the buyer. The buyer only buys what the product does for him or her. You want to define what you’re doing in terms of teh best outcome in order to get the response, “Gee, how do you do that?”

You could be cleaning carpets when you sell that vacuum cleaner or perhaps what you really do is this, “I show people how to clean their houses in such a way that they have a perfectly healthy, dust free, microbe free environment.”

“Gee, how do you do that?”

Do you write software or do you “build solutions that change and uncomplicate people’s lives, creates possibilities for them to make them more money than they thought they could make, and allows them to spend more time with friends and family.”

“Gee, how do you do that?”

“I provide people with extraordinary vacations that they talk about for the rest of their lives.”

“Gee, how do you do that?”

If you just say, “I run a vacation resort,” or “I clean carpets,” or “I write software,” people will probably say, “That’s fine.” But, as Jay and Chet said, they’ll also probably wish they never asked and return to reading the airline magazine.

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