Redefining Your Value Offer for the New Economy

Your customer has changed over the past few months. Have you?

Odds are the reason they were buying your product or service prior to the pandemic is not the same anymore. The job they need your product or service to help them accomplish is different now. Are you prepared to meet that need or are you anticipating they will adjust their expectations and be satisfied with the value offer you have always made—and which you would prefer to keep making? In other words, are you focused on promoting what you have to sell or on delivering something that will actually help your customer get the job done?

A recent Strategy+Business article framed the issue this way:

"The crisis is teaching us what we should have already known: that we must understand and empathize first, and sell second. Small and medium B2B enterprises can benefit from pivoting to a customer-success model as their larger B2B counterparts have done."

Growth Notes - Redefining Your Value Offer for the New Economy
"Whether your company is pure B2B or B2B2C, a customer-success culture naturally puts your business clients or end-users at the center of everything you do, which is imperative now. The pandemic is throwing into sharp relief the things that matter most to those you do business with. Pay attention, and redesign your organization around what you’ve learned about your customers’ needs — as opposed to developing products and services, and then molding your operations around selling them."

"…People remember the interactions they’ve had with a company based on how they felt. Memorable experiences, positive or negative, are born of intensity, and they’re persistent. If you meet your customers’ needs in this moment of heightened vulnerability and go the extra mile — extend payment terms for a few critical weeks, forgive a loan (or a late delivery), offer to support their staff in some way — the emotionally evocative nature of the action can generate a halo of positive brand affinity that will endure long after COVID-19 passes." (“Redefining B2B Experience: COVID-19 Catalyzes Big Changes,” Strategy+Business online, June 4, 2020, Tom Adams & Ryan Hart)

Five Ideas

With this new model in mind, here is a list of five specific things you can focus on right now that can potentially transform how your customer’s view your company and enable you to redefine their experience with your business.

1. Identify the “Job” Your Customer’s Need Done. People are buying your product or service because it helps them get a job done better, faster or less expensively than some else’s does—or than they can do on their own. That job may be different now than it was earlier this year, no less a year or two ago. There are easy ways to determine this. Here are a few ideas:

  • Survey or talk to your customers.
  • Speak to your sales people about the kinds of questions they are getting when speaking to potential customers. Same with customer service representatives.
  • Read articles about the business market. Identify some of the universal issues all enterprises are dealing with (remote work, slow sales, cash flow sensitivities, etc.).
  • Make assumptions based on the jobs your company needs to get done now—and the products and services required to accomplish them.

Notes coming out of any of these exercises can help you get a pretty good picture of the solution your customers are seeking.

2. Identify Barriers. What are potential areas of friction that could keep your customers and potential buyers from acquiring your product or service in the current environment? For example:

  • Is your sales process too lengthy or too complex? Do you make it easy or difficult for people to engage your services or acquire your product?
  • Are your customers given options for how and how much of your product or service they can acquire or are their alternatives restricted by what works best for you? (The same question applies to the price options you offer.)
  • What aspects of your offering are good but could be enhanced to better address current customer needs? What parts of your offering are no longer relevant in the current environment but potentially add to the customer’s cost?
  • Are more or better use cases needed before people will be able to visualize the benefit or your product or service in the new economy? (“Our product use to do ‘x’ but now it does ‘x, y & z’—and here’s what problem that solves.”)

More illustrations could be given, but you get the idea. Look at the experience you offer through the eyes of your customer in their present circumstance.

3. Innovate the Customer Experience. Too often companies focus on innovating their product without giving equal attention to creating a better customer experience. They assume a better product automatically makes the experience better. It doesn’t. See the list under #2 above for ways to understand why. Here are illustrations of how you might be able to enhance your customer’s experience, simply and soon.

  • Create a customer feedback channel that is easy to access and will be responsive. (Don’t ask for feedback you don’t plan to respond to.)
  • Initiate proactive customer service contact where appropriate.
  • Provide relevant, helpful information that adds value.
  • Develop new tools on your website that give customers the ability to chat online, post questions in forums, etc.

One of the keys to getting your people to support an effort to enhance your customer’s experience is to reward innovation that creates the kind of improvements you’re trying to make. This means financial incentives should not just reward short-term results but also sustained outcomes—repeat purchases, customer longevity, multiple product acquisition, sustained profits, etc.

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4. Make Your Customers Smarter. Right now, everyone wants information. The future is uncertain so people have questions, are seek solutions, want perspective and otherwise need to tap into a universe of content that can help them problem solve and make good decisions. This is a unique opportunity for you to be open and share your company’s experience. For example:

  • Develop an electronic newsletter that shares ideas you’re implementing, ways you’ve resolved difficulties, how you’re handling hiring, etc. The insights your business in gleaning can help someone else’s business. The information you provide does not have relate to your product. Just be helpful. Helpful companies get rewarded.
  • Publish a list of useful business resources on your website. This can be providers your company uses because they have products or services that help your organization function well. As with the previous bullet point, these don’t have to be related to your product or service offering. They just need to be universally relevant.
  • Put on webcasts that address the pain points your customers are experiencing for which you have solutions. Make them educational in nature; don’t sell your product. Just focus on making attendees more capable—smarter. They will associate their enhanced capabilities with you and see you as a valuable resource.

5. Develop a Strategic Partnership or do Co-Branding. In the new economy, perhaps your offering is not enough. Because the market has changed, your customers may need something more than you can provide—or more than it makes sense for you to provide. But a strategic partnership can potentially lead to a synthesized value proposition that adds more value than the individual offerings did previously. Co-branding can have a similar effect without adding the heavier commitment of a partnership. Think of these examples that have done this successfully in the past.

  • GoPro and Red Bull. These are two unrelated products. What they have in common is that they both consider themselves to be lifestyle brands. And the lifestyle each embraces and promotes is action and adventure. From events to ad campaigns, they were able to leverage the strengths of both brands.
  • Taco Bell and Doritos. These are different offerings that share the same audience demographic. The result was a Locos Taco wrapped in a Doritos shell. Taco Bell sold an estimated one billion units the first year it was introduced. Cost, exposure and distribution efficiencies abounded in this partnership.
  • Starbucks and Spotify. Again, these are seemingly disparate offers. However, both were extremely cognizant of the ecosystems they were trying to create. Starbucks provided Spotify a unique channel it could offer artists who wanted to expand the number of venues in which they got exposure. Spotify gave Starbucks access to an expansive digital music library that could tailor playlists to unique audiences visiting specific stores (from Laguna Beach to downtown Boston).

You can probably think of others. What synergies might you create by aligning with a partner? What customer experience may emerge as a result? What might that experience mean to your product sales, revenue goals and profit targets.

Certainly, these are not the only five ideas you might try. There are hundreds more. The intent here is to show what’s possible if you apply the right thought process—and get a little creative. These are unique times. Fresh thinking is essential—and there’s no time to waste.

In the spirit of “practice what you preach,” Growth Notes is the product of the kind of analysis just discussed. We provide compensation design services for SMB companies throughout North America. Our clients are business leaders like you trying to navigate turbulent times. Having worked with hundreds of chief executives and company owners for over 20 years, we have insights that extend beyond rewards planning. We want to make our clients (current and potential) “smarter” by sharing ideas and strategies we have seen implemented successfully elsewhere—or that have been helpful to us. We are interested in making their businesses better and helping them thrive in the new economy. We assume the insight we provide in this forum will help them do that—and that their experience with our firm will be enhanced as a result.

Here are a few additional resources you might find helpful:

For great insights on developing your marketing message: https://tamsenwebster.com/organizations/

For cutting edge research and information on leadership, strategy, culture and more: https://www.strategy-business.com/

To receive daily updates on all things business-relevant, subscribe to HBR’s Daily Alert: https://hbr.org/

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