How Are You Competing – Customer Relations

Customer service 06This is part 4 of 4 blogs which will cover the different customer value propositions that a company can use to compete in the market place.

Warren Buffet, when looking at companies to invest in, requires a ‘competitive moat’ around that business. That moat makes it hard for competition to take shots at the castle. In the world of strategy, that moat could be considered a blue ocean strategy where your company is in the middle of the ocean and no company can touch you. Some people may consider this to be “the promise land” or the “Meca” of business. In many cases, this moat is developed by offering great customer relations. Of the 4 ways to compete, strong customer relations is the hardest to defeat.

If you make a mistake, your relationship with your customer can be your saving grace. Many people appreciate good customer service and are willing to pay a premium to receive that service. In following this type of competition, you are able to set up your brand to be a main point of contact when your consumer has a question. It is a relationship that constantly needs to be nourished and improved up. One major false step or a sense of betrayal, consumers may take a ‘break’ from the company.

Apple is a company that has the reputation of having strong customer relations. Even though the latest iPhones, in the minds of some experts, are just catching up to Samsung, there are people that line that up for days to get the new iPhone. Apple is able to make people understand that they make technology easy to use for the average person. That is their connection to their consumer.

When you think about excellent customer service on a consistent basis, who do you think about? Is there a company you always find yourself buying from?

Have a productive week.

Kevin

Kevin MacDonald is a Business Consultant at L6S Business Consulting Inc (www.L6SBC.ca). L6S offers services in management consulting, Controller and CFO contracting, and lean management with either project work or teaching/mentoring of staff. Kevin has his CMA accounting designation along with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma.

Kevin is active in the community by volunteering for the South Edmonton Business Association, the Fringe Festival, Goodwill Industries of Alberta and donates blood at the Canadian Blood Services.

For help with your business, contact Kevin at kevin@L6SBC.ca or 780-868-1867. You can also follow Kevin on Twitter at @L6SBC or Facebook.com/L6SBC

 

How Are You Competing – Innovative Product

forget-your-customers-develop-innovative-business-models

This is part 2 of 4 blogs which will cover the different customer value propositions that a company can use to compete in the market place.

Competition is something natural for people. We all have a competitive streak. Some of those streaks run deeper than others, but it is still there.

When companies are competing against each other, competition can take on different forms. We have already looked at operational excellence, where companies want to be known as the cheapest in their industry. Is there a way to compete where you could be the most expensive in the market but yet consumer are accepting of it?

What if you consistently brought on new technologies, usages, or ideas to market? Would your consumer pay a premium to buy the latest and greatest item? Many do and some companies compete on that basis.

Many innovations in the car industry get their roots from Toyota Motors. They were able to find ways to bring new technologies and usages for cars that other automakers hadn’t implemented. Products made by Toyota are generally higher, in terms of price point, than their competitors.

Being an innovative company does come with pitfalls. What do you do with your corporate strategy when another company leap frogs your cutting edge product? Do you add extra resources try to leap frog them so you are back in front? Possible, but research and development into products is not a cheap venture. Do you have the financial and human capital to orchestrate that leap? You could be spending a fair amount of resources try to get back in front but never get there.

What company do you consider to be a consistent innovative leader in their industry? Any companies you felt were in that position but haven’t been able to keep up to change lately?

Have a productive week.

Kevin

Kevin MacDonald is a Business Consultant at L6S Business Consulting Inc (www.L6SBC.ca). L6S offers services in management consulting, Controller and CFO contracting, and lean management with either project work or teaching/mentoring of staff. Kevin has his CMA accounting designation along with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma.

Kevin is active in the community by volunteering for the South Edmonton Business Association, the Fringe Festival, Goodwill Industries of Alberta and donates blood at the Canadian Blood Services.

For help with your business, contact Kevin at kevin@L6SBC.ca or 780-868-1867. You can also follow Kevin on Twitter at @L6SBC or Facebook.com/L6SBC

 

Marketing In a Weak Economy

This article was originally published on the BusinessLink’s website.

Small Business Week (Oct 16-22) is an exciting time for entrepreneurs with great events across Canada offering small business owners multiple opportunities to learn and connect. One of the many events that I attended was organized by Business Link named “Ignite Small Business Week YEG: Marketing in this Economy!?”

The highlight of the event was to hear Randy Brososky from the Group of Rogues speak about how companies should market themselves during a period of weaker economic growth. I have heard Randy speak before and I knew that he would bring great knowledge to business owners to help them grow their business.

SOLVE A PROBLEM

When you are looking to market your company and its offering, remember: “To a fish, the universe is water.” In terms of your company, you truthfully have to look at yourself from the viewpoint of your customer. What problem(s) are you solving? Are you making the purchasing process logical or emotional? Are you tying these items together to make it easier for your customer to choose you?

WHAT ARE YOU REALLY SELLING?

Rolls-Royce is well known for selling cars but they also make jet engines. They understand from the view point of their end customer- the more time that a jet can be in the air, the more money airlines make. With that in mind, Rolls-Royce does not ‘sell’ a jet engine; they sell time in the air. They repair their engines for free. The only time that Rolls-Royce charge for their engines is when that engine is flying in the air.

FIVE TIPS FOR MARKETING IN A SLOW ECONOMY

Here’s what marketing guru Randy Brososky shared at the event:

1. CUSTOMER CONNECTION: Stay in touch with your customer but don’t sell to them. By keeping that connection open, when the economy starts to swing upwards, your customer will remember you and go to you first.

2. SHIFT HAPPENS: People shift their spending habits as times change, but are you shifting along with them? 10 years ago, Tim Horton’s coffee could only be bought within their locations. With the shift to home brewing and Keurig cups, Tim Horton’s coffee can now be purchased in grocery stores (or in their locations) in grounded bean format or within Keurig cups.

3. SMART DISCOUNTS: Offer 2 for 1 deals but the deal is only activated after you have involved your customer. For your customer to get a 2 for 1 deal, have them bring a friend. You can also have your customers become brand ambassadors. Offer them discounts when they speak to their community about you.

4. BEAT THE FEAR: Ask your customer what is holding them back from purchasing from you. Hyundai accepted vehicle returns if their customers lost their job during the recession of 2008. They gained market share and saw positive sales growth while other car manufacturers were going bankrupt.

5 NEW VALUE OFFERING: Look at how you can make your customer feel like the centre of the universe. Can you offer a lower cost item to your customer but still solve their problem and fulfill the same emotional desire? Can you sell what you are offering in a different fashion?

Even with a slower economy, companies still do want to increase their top line. At the very least, you can set yourself up for success during the upcoming growth phase by staying in touch with your customer, talking about the value you create, and tapping into your customers’ emotion.

Have an awesome and productive week.

Kevin

Kevin MacDonald is a Business Consultant at L6S Business Consulting Inc (www.L6SBC.ca). L6S offers services in management consulting, Controller and CFO contracting, and lean management with either project work or teaching/mentoring of staff. Kevin has his CMA accounting designation along with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma.

Kevin is active in the community by volunteering for the South Edmonton Business Association, the Fringe Festival, and Goodwill Industries of Alberta and donates blood at the Canadian Blood Services.

For help with your business, contact Kevin at kevin@L6SBC.ca or 780-868-1867. You can also follow Kevin on Twitter at @L6SBC or Facebook.com/L6SBC

 

What to Write.

4857508633_86fb572818_z(1)I have been blogging for about a year now, mostly on topics or events within the business world. A common question I get is “Where do you find your subject matter?” As with anyone else, I was nervous about starting a blog. If you want to be successful in blogging (you can define success as you wish), you do need to be consistently posting to your blog. That made me even more nervous because I was aiming to blog on a weekly basis, but where would I get 52 topics every year?

Actually, it isn’t that hard to find topics to blog about.

Reading: I follow a few people on Twitter and WordPress who write interesting blogs. Sometimes, I write my own blog expanding on their subject matter, maybe putting a twist on it, or actually looking at the subject matter from a totally different angle. The same can go for articles. I am constantly reading different articles from business publications to keep my knowledge fresh and up to date.

Asked: I have had a number of people ask me to research and write about certain topics that I have an understanding about. These blogs are pretty fulfilling for myself since I am helping to solve a burning problem that someone within my network has in front of them.

Observation: I love to watch what is going on around me. Things could be playing out with a client or watching an event unfold in the media is always interesting. In either case, I find myself learning one or two things at that time. I might get my curiosity perked up on a certain subject matter that pushes me to do some added research. These blogs are ‘fun’ because I commonly find something out that I didn’t expect. In any case, these blogs involve more ‘thinking’ than the other types of blogs because I am commonly bring something to light from a totally different angle than anyone else.

Do you have a blog? What is your inspiration? Is there anything that is a burning question from you?

In case anyone is wondering, I came up with the idea for this particular blog while doing a training ride for my MS Leduc to Camrose Bike Tour ride. Blog ideas come up when you least expect it.

Have an awesome week.

Kevin

Picture Source: Owen W Brown from Flickr Common Creative

Kevin MacDonald is a Business Consultant at L6S Business Consulting Inc (www.L6SBC.ca). L6S offers services in management consulting, Controller and CFO contracting, and lean management with either project work or teaching/mentoring of staff. Kevin has his CMA accounting designation along with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma.

Kevin is active in the community by volunteering for different groups and donates platelets at the Canadian Blood Services clinic on a bi-weekly basis.