Some marketing advice.
What do you do about Free? "Sell something better than free." We live in a time of hyper-competition mixed with a lack of effective mass marketing. Luckily, we also live in a time when everything is automated and customer service is poor. The bar is set so low that it should be easy to raise that bar and make a profit.
"Make a product or provide a service that's worth paying for," writes Seth Godin. Make it Remarkable -- that means, make it worth remarking about.
Design a product that is built for a specific audience, like the way you do for E-rate.
"You don't need a better way to talk about what you do, or a better gimmick, or a better social media strategy. In fact, you need to reinvent and rebuild what you make for a new reality, a reality where paying for something is an intentional act of buying something way better than the free alternative." [Seth]
The other thing about Free is that it pre-supposes that the buyers only care about price, which you would think is the case but isn't. Looking at just pricing is examining the wrong metric. Kodak "made the mistake of misdefining quality. They thought that what would ensure their future was better fidelity film. And without a doubt, they delivered on the promise of ever better film stock, with all the things a professional photographer could hope for," writes Seth Godin.
"It turns out that what people actually wanted was the ability to take and share billions of photos at vanishingly small cost. The 'quality' that most of the customer base wanted was cheap and easy, not museum quality." So Kodak and Polaroid were looking at the wrong metric. Think about the iPhone commercial - people just want to take and share photos, which is one reason Instagram was acquired by Facebook for $1B. Even FB knows that it's value is in (1) the network; and (2) the photo sharing. Yahoo missed this with Flickr.
Think about this another way. It isn't Free or Low Price. It's connection, Value, Time, Improvement, Efficiency, Local - or some other metric that you are forgetting (as you focus just on price).
"Quality is not an absolute measure. It doesn't mean 'deluxeness' or 'perfection'. It means keeping the promise the customer wants you to make."
That promise you make is your brand, your vision, the story you share with your tribe.
Your Tribe are your customers and employees and partners. That's your Big Data to be analyzed in order to identify your best customer / partner / employee profiles.
All this time you were staring at the wrong factors and metrics.
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