Every business is in competition, trying to outdo the other and bring more customers in the door. Product is typically the first aspect that draws attention, price is usually another major factor, service a huge one, but added value is the piece of the puzzle that truly wows customers and keeps them coming back.
Innovating and relentlessly looking for ways to up the value proposition are imperative to staying ahead of the pack and remaining relevant. At times this can seem like a tedious, never-ending battle, but creative teams that love what they do seem to effortlessly stay ahead of the curve, repeatedly topping the sundae with an even bigger cherry. But how does one continually add value when available budget isn’t infinite? The good news – major impressions are often achieved via touches that are free or nearly free.
These memorable moments tend to be thoughtful, show customers you’ve put yourself in the their shoes and are things you would do for a friend. Their greatest value – they take time and a bit of caring effort – things money can’t buy. That’s where prime value impressions intersect.
In a former life, while running a travel company in SE Asia, we were constantly upping our game. Take the ‘$50 Newspaper’ as we called it. When guests arrived from abroad, tired from the transcontinental journey, their host greeted them at the airport with the local newspaper of the day. Hard cost – $0.75. To an educated, inquisitive guest, that wants to absorb as much of the local culture as possible – $50 in perceived value. Add a pack of chewing gum (unless you’re in Singapore!) and bottle of water to the airport pickup ($1) and you’ve now eliminated stale mouth and thirst. You’re off to a winning start out of the gates.
A world-famous hotel called me just before going to bed and asked if I like coffee or tea? Off to sleep I went, then hours later woke to a soft knock at the door. There stood a staff member giving me a personal wake up call, with a warm pot of freshly brewed coffee accompanied by warm milk (note: not Coffee-mate). Cost – minimal. Time – about 10 minutes. Impression – huge. The staff learned what I enjoy, remembered and thoughtfully presented it at just the right time. Huge value – low cost.
In a new city, I wanted to go for a jog at some point during the day. There in my room, atop the desk, was a walking/jogging map of the surrounding area, produced by the hotel. Sneakers on, I was out the door and had a fantastic 5km run through areas I likely would not have ventured without the map. The property won my heart. Cost – some time and photocopying. Value – I’m telling you about it years later.
Here’s a noteworthy one: My wife was traveling for business in Vietnam and noticed her hotel had partnered with Nike to offer shoes on loan for guests. There’s no doubt some logistics and inventory management involved for staff, but wow, this is an innovative piece of added value and great advertising for Nike.
While we’re all competing with one another, the lesson is that Davids can often overcome the Goliaths with small, caring touches that require little or no budget. Never underestimate the value a personal “hello” and conversation with the general manager or clever staff member brings. A few minutes of your time and thoughtful creativity can make customers feel special, greatly raise the value proposition and create long-lasting impressions. Be imaginative.