I am feeling a little bit unsure about this one because surely you don’t need me to define what you offer, do you? I think it might be worth considering for a bit.
Put very simply, and I don’t think I need a dictionary definition to support me on this, talking about your offering is simply a marketing shortcut for talking about all of the products and services that you provide. This shortcut came about because sometimes you need to talk about products and sometimes you need to talk about services and some times as a copy writer you are not sure so the easiest thing to do is lump it all together and call it ‘offering.’
Good, no problems here then, everybody who is in business knows what they do, don’t they? Actually, no, they don’t.
There are two issues here because your offering has two faces, the one that customers see and the one that you see. If you are going to be effective in your marketing your offering needs to make sense both ways.
When you look at your offering you need to understand how it benefits you, ie. what is the most profitable thing that you offer? What is the most popular thing that you offer? What is the most reliable thing that you offer? What delivers the biggest customer benefit? What does your market most often need? What would your customers need to come back for? What is the real value of what you offer? What is the easiest thing to sell? The answers to these questions should inform how much energy you put into each of your products and services and what the return is likely to be.
When we are selling it is almost impossible to resist the urge to sell the customer the easiest thing to sell, rather than the thing that will really benefit them the most. The trouble with that is if they don’t feel a benefit they won’t be coming back, and they won’t be referring you. The next inevitable temptation is to undervalue your offering and sell it for what is is worth to you, rather than what is is worth to your customer. I recently visited a printer who was solving multi million pound logistical problems for the price of producing adhesive labels, and throwing out the baby with the bath water is a tough position to maintain.
The second issue is the way your customers understand your offering, and this is perhaps the most perplexing conundrum in marketing. Basically, if they don’t understand it they won’t buy, if they don’t understand but still buy they won’t be back, and they won’t be referring you. If you are able to discern the needs of your customers and how you can meet those needs you are on your way to some really effective marketing. The challenge is that you don’t need the stuff you do, because you can do it and it’s often difficult to understand why your customers can’t do it for themselves, they of course are busy doing stuff for other people that they can’t do and hence the global economy.
So here is the answer to the most perplexing conundrum in marketing, ask your customers what they value, why they value it and how much they value it. Their obligation is to not tell you and keep the price down, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find out the answer to those three questions at all costs.
And of course all good salesmen know that customers value outcomes rather than processes, benefits rather than features. Remember when you sell a drill you are selling the ability to make holes, when you are selling accountancy you are selling mitigation and when you are buying a solicitor/lawyer you are buying time out of jail when your’e accountant messed up.
Which brings us rather neatly to customers, the most valuable asset in your business.
The next two posts will be about understanding customers starting next week with customer analysis.
So come in next week if you haven’t got a blogging clue about customer analysis.