Jay Abraham is one of the most successful business consultants in the world. During his lengthy career, he’s helped more than 10,000 businesses worldwide and is one of the most sought-after business consultants in the world. When Abraham speaks, businesses sit up and listen—and for good reason.
One of the business concepts Abraham is well known for is the idea of "preeminence" in business. Preeminence is defined as “having rank, dignity or importance.” When you're aiming for preeminence, you’re trying to become an authority in your market.
But the concept of preeminence in business goes much further than being an authority. Being preeminent in your business is about becoming the one indispensable resource for your audience. Your goal is to provide the best help for your customers, even if you have to send them to a competitor to get the product they require. As a preeminent business, you’re totally focused on helping the customer to the best of your abilities, even if it means losing a sale.
Preeminence is a high-level concept that shapes how you view every aspect of your business: Your product, your messaging, your marketing and everything in between are all affected by your focus on becoming preeminent.
The Downside of Preeminence
The preeminence strategy has come under scrutiny from many because it’s often seen as a pie-in-the-sky, woo-woo concept. For starters, the concept puts emphasis on the long-run performance of your business, not the short term, and that means you might experience losses in the short term because of it.
The concept is also very high-level and a bit abstract. I’ll be the first to admit that when I read New-Agey phrases like “harvesting abundance,” I start to get a little nervous. We’re business owners, after all, and “harvesting abundance” doesn’t pay our bills. Abraham’s writing and strategies are chock-full of this high-level nomenclature.
Does that mean a preeminence strategy is worthless and we should throw out the baby with the bathwater? I don’t think so. In fact, I think there’s a lot that we can glean from Abraham and his teachings.
Establishing Yourself as an Authority
At its core, preeminence is about positioning yourself as an authority. You’re acting as a personal sherpa to your audience, no matter what it costs you. In return, this helps you gain your customers' utmost respect and trust. The idea is that if you’ve gotten the trust of your customers before making the sale, you don’t have to actually do any selling. They have a problem, and you’re solving it, either with your products or your competitor’s.
Let’s see how traditional marketing methods differ from a preeminence strategy. Traditional marketing methods usually:
- introduce a problem and show a solution,
- introduce fear, uncertainty and doubt, and
- add exclusivity.
The goal of most traditional marketing methods is to manufacture action from the customer, often by artificial means.The overall feeling is pressure-based marketing that relies on the consumer feeling pushed and stressed into making a decision. Contrast that with preeminence marketing methods:
- You’re providing no-strings attached solutions.
- You’re not pressuring the sale but rather providing lots of value to the customer.
- You're finding a solution, no matter what the cost, even at a loss.
- You’re giving away a major chunk of your resources (advice, knowledge, etc.) before asking for anything in return.
One benefit of preeminence is that you’re not competing on margins because your most valuable commodity isn’t the product, but your brand. If you sell a physical product, odds are, you’re competing with the likes of Amazon, and not many people can beat Amazon at the margins game.
Companies That Practice Preeminence
Apple is a great example of a preeminent company. It's become a preeminent personal computing company because it's created groundbreaking technology and experiences in nearly every vertical it has products for. When it launches products, people pay attention, making it a dominant player in the market.
Another example of a company that has established preeminence is the online shoe retailer Zappos. Unlike many other online shoe retailers, Zappos focused its company culture around customer service. There's no shortage of incredible stories of the lengths Zappos employees have gone to in order to provide amazing customer service. People—myself included—go out of their way to order shoes through Zappos because of its carefully manicured customer support. You know you’re going to be taken care of.
But this kind of support isn't cheap: When most companies are saving money by outsourcing their customer service needs, Zappos has spent lots of money developing an in-house support team that doesn’t run off of a script but personalizes their responses to customer issues.
And there’s a bonus to that kind of dedication to becoming iconic at customer service: Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh once said that they've found that repeat customers spend more than first-time customers and that they also tell their friends about their positive experiences with Zappos.
What Would This Look Like for Your Business?
If you were to make a push to become a preeminent resource in your market, your upfront costs would be considerable. After all, you’re trying to provide as much value as possible and you’re spending resources on expected future returns.
You might lose money in the short term with this strategy, but losing money to acquire customers isn't a new business concept. For instance, advertising is really just about spending money to acquire customers. As long as the cost of acquiring a customer is less than the lifetime value of that customer, your advertising campaign is a success. (This is where the saying “You have to spend money to make money” comes from.)
When your goal is to help people find a solution even at the expense of sending them to a competitor, you’ll find that people will feel compelled to help you in exchange. This could be with follow-up purchases, referrals or online reviews. It might even be as simple as having the customer you sent away return to you for life, because they know you have their best interests at heart.
This is the effect of reciprocity at work: When people go out of their way to help, we usually try to return that help in some way. And that's the beauty of preeminence in business strategy: Instead of trying to pressure-cook a sale, you’re able to use psychology to your advantage to keep people coming back to your brand over and over again.
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