A month or so back, I was on vacation. There were five families coming together for this one dinner, and I decided that I'd buy a lobster dinner for everyone. We drove to town to buy the lobsters from the only store that sold them in this region, only to find out that they weren't open during regular hours, but opened up at 4 p.m.. That was the odd mistake number one that this company made. But I want to take us one step deeper, as a way to talk about how you could improve sales.
Get Into Your Buyer's Mind
Often times, as a seller, we think from the perspective of our own business. This lobster shop opened at 4 p.m. because that was when they got back from their buying run (it wasn't exactly a coastal town). Their main role: the middle man between the lobstermen and the end buyer (me) for retail lobster sales. From their mind, it was easier to think about how to man a counter at certain hours and how to sell me what they had on hand. But that's from the seller's mind.
In the buyer's mind, I wanted to have a lobster dinner for five families. I wanted convenience. I was on vacation. I wanted this to be as simple as possible. If this vendor was thinking from my mind, they could've sold me a whole package of services. They could've sold me "dinner for 15" with complete drop off, setup, and takeaway, for 20 percent or more of the cost over what they sold me. The 20 percent or so they'd make would be barely cut into by margin, and would enhance referrals, especially from the jealous other vacationers in nearby lake camps.
Extensions of Service/Delivery
Apple used to sell hardware. Then one day they invented a device that was actually a marketplace cleverly disguised as hardware (the iPod). Later, they recreated the experience in the telecommunications market (the iPhone). They extended their delivery methods in this case.
By the time this story goes live, I will very likely be driving a new car (or at least new to me) that I purchased from Motorphilia.com. Aaron Manley Smith sidestepped all my local dealers with one simple method: he saw a blog post I wrote, contacted me, and sourced a few potential cars within five minutes of my post going live. He made a no-fuss pitch, gave me a no-fuss price, and told me how the process worked without any real tricks or catches. Yes, I'll have purchased a car over the Web without having touched it first. That's an extension of service.
Deeper Isn't More Complex
It's all a matter of finding value and extending into that space. If you think from the buyer's perspective, there are often ways you can add value that are marginal in cost to you, but are extraordinary in value to your buyer. They're all around, and they just require you to go one step deeper.
What would they look like for your business?
Chris Brogan is the New York Times bestselling author of the NEW book, Social Media 101. He is president of New Marketing Labs, LLC, and blogs at chrisbrogan.com.