What makes you different than your competitors? We all can’t be the lowest price and studies show that when high value is attached to a brand, the price becomes secondary. It’s vital to your business’ future to figure out what you do better than anyone else.
I was recently invited to a summit of leaders in the auto industry. We spent 3 days up in the beautiful Columbia River Gorge discussing the future of digital marketing and what it means for auto dealers everywhere. The subjects we touched on are common to every business out there today.
- How to evolve into this online marketing world when you’ve practiced the same processes without it for years.
- How to stay competitive when everything is changing so fast.
- How to be heard above the blistering stream of content on the web and remain meaningful (or even remarkable) to your customers and prospects.
One company that seems to answer these questions effectively over and over again is Amazon. They deliver on every scale. I’ve got an “ergonomic situation” in my office and my thumb has been in excruciating pain for a few months. I don’t like drugs but finally I broke down and got a shot of cortisone. (I don’t recommend this for anyone – unless you enjoy having a long needle jabbed into your finger – hey, who am I to judge?). As part of the “rehab”, I needed a wireless keyboard and mouse to work with my MacBook. Not wanting to waste time, I ordered these items from Amazon on Wednesday afternoon at 4:00pm. As a Prime member I get 2-day shipping free. Much to my surprise and delight, the items showed up the NEXT day at Noon!
The experience I had with Amazon (maybe you’ve had a similar one) had an impact on me on so many levels:
- Physically: I could start my “rehab” and recovery process sooner.
- Emotionally: They “care” enough to get me the products before I even expect them.
- Financially: Time is money. I got a great price without having to spend a lot of time (and perhaps gasoline) searching for what I need.
- Mentally: With the pain subsiding, I could get back to my business knowing I wasn’t causing further damage to my body.
It’s true: every business can’t be Amazon. But everyone can emulate their mindset. Amazon has communicated their “Why Buy Here” so well that their customers can recite it at random. The list is never ending because Amazon continues to evolve their customer experience. They know the new normal puts the customer in control and collaborating with the customer makes their experience even better.
Your WHY is the reason people buy from you. The social web requires you, as the business owner or as the individual, to define in detail your “Why Buy Here.” Years ago we brought the “customer satisfaction” processes into our business. Satisfaction is the difference between what a customer expects and what a customer gets. Today we must strive for customer commitment. It’s what J.D. Power calls “stickiness,” or the “propensity to buy a product or service again.”
Some dealers (and other businesses) have already taken action on customer experience and are ahead of the game. Here are some of the actions the winners have put in place:
- Utilize Social Media and blogging as platforms to communicate your “Why Buy Here.”
- Develop a proactive strategy to capture your happy, loyal customers’ opinion online.
- Listen to feedback from your current customers to sculpt your process.
- Focus on Employee satisfaction. Identify what you value in your staff.
- Keep a running list of the compliments your customers give you. (Helpful hint: take a look at your online reviews – they are a goldmine!)
If you don’t know why you do what you do, how can you expect others to know? The goal is to not just sell to people who need what you offer but to get them to believe what you believe. If you don’t know your business’ WHY, how will you get people to want to be part of it?
If you’re like most people, it’s difficult to put your finger on why people should choose you. The fact is, you’re busy doing what you do. Hire a Social Media coach to get you on the right path. If you’d like to get your feet wet, avoid these four “worst practices” that ADP Cobalt outlined in their webinar:
- Price. “People buy from us because we have the lowest price.”
- Gimmicks. “People buy from us because we give them a free tank of gas.”
- Generic Claims. “People buy from us because we are passionate about customer service.” Everyone says that and it’s compelling.
- No Customer Benefit. Communicate your “Why Buy Here” so well that a prospect can SEE themselves buying from you. Like Amazon customers, demonstrate your passions so well that customers will recite reasons to buy from you at random.
People don’t buy what you do. They buy WHY you do it. What you do simply serves as the proof of what you believe. Is what you believe worth branding?
David Sharp says
Kathi, you have put forth so much good stuff in this one article that I have read it twice already. One of my biggest takeaways is what you said about customer satisfaction, “Satisfaction is the difference between what the customer expects and what the customer gets.”.
Kathi Kruse says
Thanks David. I usually spend a good portion of Sundays writing. It’s a commitment and it’s also something I’m glad to have in my life. It’s super gratifying to know what I write has an impact.
Harry Gardiner says
Hi Kathy, thanks for the great post.
“Amazon continues to evolve their customer experience. They know the new normal puts the customer in control and collaborating with the customer makes their experience even better.”
This paragraph alone points out how important it is to put consumers first.
It’s great to see more brands adopting ‘human’ attitudes on their social profiles in order to better deal with their customers.
However it’s definitely worth noting that as brands begin to act human they will have to expect human responses from their clients. Some of which won’t be positive. How they deal with these responses can end up defining their brand.
Kurt Frankenberg says
Congrats for choosing and serving such a dynamic market! Narrowing your customer base to the owners of automotive dealerships is a genius move. May you truly DOMINATE– by truly SERVING this community.
Regarding the “worst practices” and the “why buy HERE?” question:
Domino’s didn’t build their biz on good pizza, they built it on hot-fresh-delivered in 30 minutes.
FedEx didn’t build their biz on price, they built it on “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight”.
Competing on VAGUE quality (“we’re the best!”) or on price (“We’re the cheapest”) commits the unpardonable sin of being… forgettable.
REFUSING to compete… to set one’s self in a position of being a category of ONE… is the best practice, IMHO.
My martial arts studio’s motto is “More than JUST kicking and punching”, which sets it apart from the myriad of low-grade Tae Kwon Do (translation: the way of kicking and punching) schools.
The catch-line “We come to YOU!” sets my mobile screen repair company apart from the hardware stores that demand you pull out your OWN screen door, borrow your neighbor’s truck, and drive it down to them.
And your dealerships could distinguish themselves in social media as the only place that “——“.
Fill in the blank yourselves, dealers; put yourself in your customer’s shoes and what fears they might have.
Anyhoo, my $.02. Thanks for the post Kathi, and for being my Tweety friend. Didn’t say Twitty. Even though you’re blonde. Just sayin.