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Business Bits - Being Different

Monday, July 05, 2010

Topic: Differentiating Beyond Price

Stop lowering your prices.
That's right. Just stop it.

Well, at least stop dropping those cents & dollars out of desperation. I see small businesses do it all the time and it kills me.  Price slashing may offer temporary sales...but it's no way to build a brand or customer loyalty.

Sure, you must price your items "reasonably" (a very obscure term) & offering various price points in your shop can be an important selling feature. But as I mentioned in a previous post you must consider the actual cost of your items to make.  I see folks short selling their lovely handmade goods all the time.  Of course, everyone is looking for a good deal ....so what's a business to do?

{{image credit: OliveManna}}

Add to what you actually offer.

What else can you offer customers that enhances their experiences in your shop?

Differentiate yourself by not being the Wal-Mart of the handmade world but instead by offering buyers something else.

What is that something else? I don't know. That's for you to figure out. But think about what you've got naturally...what's your moxie?  Consider some of these examples:

Nordstrom: flattering dressing rooms.  I needed a few clothes post-baby...I went to Ann Taylor Loft since they were having a mega-sale...however, their dressing rooms with flourescent lights nearly brought me to tears. I ended up, desperate, at Nordstrom...though I paid a bit more, I felt reassured & prettier in their soft lights & larger rooms.  Someone there figured out just the things woman want. When we distill it down...they just offered me nice lights & larger mirrors, but that was just what I needed. A small add on for a big return.

Starbucks: children's books.  I'm all for the small business coffee shop. However, our local Starbucks has learned that by offering an always stocked bookcase of children's books it allows parents (me!) time to enjoy their coffee ...when otherwise the kids would be climbing around & pleading for scones. This extra bit keeps me coming back on those rainy Oregon days when Jack & I just need to get out & about.  So in this case, they're adding more than just books...but an actual experience.

IKEA: no fussy sales people.  Really...we could go on & on about the keeness of IKEA but they surely nailed it by building a place where it's easy to shop & answer questions on your own....without someone breathing down your back -- I already have a toddler who can do that thank you very much.  (note: in this instance...they took something away!)

Local Honda Dealership: totally enclosed kid's room.  Clearly someone was thinking about the needs of their actual customers. Not just who they hoped their customers would be.  Most often it is the parent's with kids coming in for oil changes during the week. So build a totally enclosed room & fill it with toys & books with tables for parents to play with their children & wait for the car.  This one to me is particularly ingenius (though obvious) - I'm guessing that NOT having kids running willy nilly around the dealership is also a plus to their car sales.....

So what can you offer.... Improved customer service? Fast response time? Lovely packaging? Quick checkout? Complimentary items?  hmmm....

These stores are not necessarily ones I frequent...but they have succeeded in building their brand and gaining just a bit (if not more) of my loyalty.  Please, share any other points of differentiation you've noticed in other shops. I'd love to add to this list!

More tips and resources on my Business Bits page.

1 comment :

Kim's Crafty Apple said...

My favorite example is Target.

I have two little ones, 15 mo apart at 2 and 3. Target has those amazing Huge (yes, a bit difficult to navigate but worth it) carts that has this attachment on it where both my girls can sit while the cart is ahead of that (really having a hard time to describe it). BUT, it eliminates all the fighting about who sits where and keeps them strapped in while I shop. I'll choose Target any day because of these carts.