How to reward your customers…and break new marketing ground

It is important to differentiate your business positively, not negatively. Sometimes, an entrepreneur can be too quick to please a vocal few, without first looking at what the majority of customers are doing, or how they are approaching your business.

Looking at various disincentives that businesses have in play, it’s always useful to look at what could have been done in a positive light to get the same outcome, and make more people happier in the process. For instance:

It is most industries’ norm to punish late payers. Instead, why not offer early payers a discount. You might be surprised at how many would be attracted to those kinds of terms. If you put these additional funds into a rainy day account, you may be able to pay for your wait time for payments from late payers, be more forgiving toward them, and make more friends in your business.

If you don’t believe this, test it.

Most companies look at their ‘Ideal Customer’, and stick with that profile far too long, to the detriment of other markets. You should be looking at what every list you make omits, not what they simply highlight. Focus on the exact opposite of your target market. It may be growing and has problems to solve that are also growing. Can you help? Can you offer them something different both from what they are getting now, and from what you are offering your core customers? If you are n’t sure, see if there is a way to test your theory before you start.

Do you have a Plan ‘B’?  When you make a decision based on your core customer, have you thought about the possible lost dollars from other segments of your prospects? Once you have made decision, it’s hard to back off if it does n’t work. Think of the steps you will need to re-trace by muddling your message up, and possible earning bad reviews, or comments, from those that don’t ‘get’ your approach. Is there a way that you can test your theories without incurring too much damage, and have an exit ramp that you can circle back on? If you do this early in the process, it’s easier to come up with an alternative plan that suits everyone better, rather than getting so far into a process, it is like wading through a bog. Once it’s up to your waist, it’s tough to turn around and go back.

Of course, this point also requires testing in some way, but all agile marketing is based on testing and it is the best way to find the differentiation for your business against your competition. In fact, you should build test periods and methods into your everyday marketing efforts. This may be mire straight-forward than it appears at first.  Above all, remember that differentiation is not solely about being different. It is about being different in a way that customers will pay for. Don’t just do one thing, to make one decision, to solve one problem, always test, always come up with a hidden bonus that will hook other prospect segments, not just your core prospects and customers.

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