The internet has made the world smaller, and at the same time, given consumers so many choices that they are now in control of what they pay for your products or services.
To be successful at selling your product or service you now have to be skilled at the art of negotiation. Do you stick to your guns and charge what you want, making much fewer sales than you need to stay afloat? Or do you drop your prices and therefore devalue your brand?
There’s no easy answer.
What is clear is that your brand needs to differentiate itself from all the other brands out there that sell similar products or services.
First, Define Your Brand Value
When we talk about brand value, we’re looking at what makes your brand stand out. If you charge exactly what 10 other brands do, what makes your customers seek your product out above the others? That’s brand value.
It might be your stellar customer service (Zappos definitely has cornered that market) or your speedy shipping (we have Amazon to thank for that). It might be that your products last longer, or that your sales team goes above and beyond during the purchase process.
Whatever that “thing” is, it’s your differentiator. It costs you little or nothing to provide that value, and it can turn prospects into clients, and clients into brand evangelists.
Next, Build an Experience Around Your Brand
When we think of a shopping experience, especially one that takes place online, it’s usually pretty straightforward. You search for a product on Google. You click a link and browse results. You make a purchase. The product gets delivered.
And yet, if the average buying experience is so cut and dry, you as a business have so much opportunity to make it better. This is where you can really shine in standing out. In The Experience Economy: Work Is Theater & Every Business a Stage, the authors talk about how the buying experience is like theater. It’s up to you to create an experience that is memorable and that exceeds expectations.
The first part of this is simply making the checkout process easy and streamlined. Reduce the steps and information required to make a purchase. Make sure your checkout page loads quickly so your shopper doesn’t lose patience.
But then take that experience a step further. For example, rather than a boring “Your order has been processed” landing page, maybe your customers get to a page with a GIF of confetti raining down with the message “We’re so excited to process your order! Our elves are already getting it ready to ship to you.”
Or maybe after the order is placed, the buyer gets a personalized email from you, thanking them for their business.
Maybe when the product arrives, there’s a little something extra in the box. You could partner with another brand — let’s say one that sells candles — and include a bonus gift that not only makes your customers smile but also introduces them to another potential shopping avenue.
Bonobos, a clothing retailer, has an unexpected shopping experience. A shopper makes an appointment at one of the brand’s Guideshops, where he is given one-on-one assistance in finding the perfect fit. Once he makes his purchase, he walks out without bags of his purchases, which are instead delivered to his home. This innovative shopping experience creates loyal customers who then are comfortable shopping online on Bonobos’ site.
These are all efforts that can enhance the buying experience and make people come to you whenever they need to buy the kinds of products you sell. And the right experience can be nearly as valuable as the product itself.
Don’t try to compete on price. You’ll quickly win the race to the bottom, and your profits will be nil. Instead, focus on delivering more value to your customers through the right experiences, so that they’ll choose you every time, even if it means paying a little bit more.