Never offer a discount

Don’t cheapen your service by offering a discount to win new customers. This will result in two things, both of which are not good.

1. You will be perceived as not valuing your own service.

2. The new client will never want to pay full price.

Set a fair price based on the value of your service and stick to it. You may lose a little business in the short term but if your price is fair and you offer a quality service, you will benefit in the long run.

Oprah the expert

For those of you that haven’t seen Oprah’s Favorite Things, it is the ultimate example of an “expert” providing a service. She reveals her favorite items of the year so that her audience members can feel safe that these particular items have been endorsed by Oprah. She has built so much trust with her audience that anything she recommends turns to gold. They view her as an expert.

So the service she is offering is advice on gifts for the holiday’s, and as any retailer that is featured on her list can tell you, the response can be overwhelming.

Reaching the trust level that Oprah has reached is extremely difficult. But it displays how powerful a trusted resource can be when it comes to providing a service. Be honest and trustworthy in everything that your company does. The information is out there to be found, it might as well come from you.

For God’s sake, get the name right

I stopped by my work mailbox last week to see if by the off chance there might be something of value. There rarely is, which could be another post at some point in the future. But this time there was a envelope from a company offering printing services. What struck about this particular piece of mail was not only did they get the name of my company wrong, they got the wrong name wrong. Let me explain.

About 1 1/2 years ago my company change its name. The envelope I had received had our old name on it, which is bad enough. But to make things worse…and bare with me…they had written our old name incorrectly and corrected it by drawing a line through it and writing our correct old name. So in effect they had gotten the wrong name wrong. And this is a company offering printing services. Amazing.

An important part of offering a service is to make sure you are thorough in everything that you do. People and companies buy services based on trust. And if you can’t be trusted to get their name right, there is no way they will trust you with their business.

Customers rarely know what they want

Google’s OHA has obviously been big news recently. No more walled gardens, a Linux OS, etc. Interesting stuff. Potentially game changing. So much so that it got me to thinking about a familiar subject.

The more I read about the possibilities of what this alliance is hoping to accomplish, the more it reminds me of something I have always believed. For the most part, people don’t realize what they want or need. Take cell phones for example. We are so used to taking what the cell phone companies provide us that most people don’t realize what a cell phone, or a mobile device, could actually do if it was truly open.

For example, I see a device that allows you to see where your Facebook “friends” are located at any given time in real time. You could not only meet them at the store they are currently shopping at, but you could check the available products in that store and check the prices. You could scan to see how late the store is open and what time it opens in the morning. If they are out of a product you could find out when they are getting more in and how much.

And this is just a narrow slice of what an open mobile device could do. But many people don’t know it.

To reinforce my view, I asked a colleague what she wished her phone could do. Her response?

“I wish I could send the pictures I take with my phone to someone else.”

I didn’t have the heart to tell her that she probably can. Nor did I have the patience that I knew it would take to figure out how to do it and then explain to her.

Sometimes a great service is one that people don’t realize they want. This is why I cringe when companies rely solely on surveys to gage their customers wants and needs. You’re the expert, figure out what will make your service more valuable to your customer and provide it to them.

Warren Buffet

Was watching an interview with Warren Buffet the other night and he was asked why he doesn’t invest in technology stocks.

“When I look at the Internet, for example, I try to figure out how an industry or company can be hurt or changed by it, and then I avoid it,” Buffett said in the Fortune article. “That doesn’t mean I don’t think there’s a lot of money to be made from that change. I just don’t think I am the one to make a lot of money out of it.”

Mr. Buffet clearly understands that they key to success is not only knowing what you do well but also knowing what you don’t do well, even if other people are making tons of money by doing it.

Evoked Set

A term that has always stuck with me since Marketing 101 is “Evoked Set.” Its probably what started my fascination with marketing. Simply put, it’s defined as the group of products or companies that come to mind when considering a purchase.

So here’s an example. You need new sneakers. What brands immediately pop into your head? Nike? Reebok? Adidas? Whatever brand names immediately come to mind are your Evoked Set for that product or service. Needless to say, you want to be in your target markets evoked set.

This was an expensive proposition many years ago. The only way to do this was television, radio, billboards, magazines, newspapers, and…well…that’s about all I can think of. None of these mediums are cheap if you are looking to reach large numbers of people. But things have changed.

The Internet has become the great equalizer. If I say “Internet Search” its a pretty good bet that Google will be in most peoples Evoked Set. Have you ever seen a Google ad? Nope, because they don’t exist. How about if I say “Social Networking?” Probably Facebook is in your set? Ads? Commercials? Nope.

The Internet has become a place where for very little money or effort a company can quickly become a steadfast member of their target markets Evoked Set. Not that its easy. Its just easier. Its about creating a great service and getting the early adopters on board. Treat them well and they will spread the word faster than you can imagine.