A few months back, I posted about a book I had just started reading: Seth Godin’s This is Marketing. I was just getting into the book, but it had an immediate impact on me. Now that I’ve finished it, I’m even more inspired. (Side note: I’m excited that my teammates chose this as our next book club selection. I can’t wait to hear their perspectives on what Godin has to say.)
Let me share an observation that has stayed with me: Businesses need to truly understand what it takes to build and deliver value to their customers – and the discussion with your customers should be about long-term, sustainable value.
Three points spoke (actually, they shouted) to me about a new way to truly understand and deliver value:
- Quality is a requirement, not a value-added service. Simply talking about being better or being excellent will only lead to a competitor copying you at a cheaper price.
- Value should be about taking customers to a new destination. Truly valuable strategic partners engage their clients in a conversation. They work with them to explore their hopes and dreams. If you can help your client “see further,” you will raise their expectations of what’s possible.
- Make the impossible, possible, through a story. They say one way to identify hopes and dreams is through a story – specifically, one based on what is possible within an arc of change. As Godin writes, “This is a generative posture, one based on possibility, not scarcity.“
I don’t know about you, but this gives me chills. It strikes up excitement and energy about the potential of possibility.
BUT – if I’m being honest, not many providers strike that kind of passion in me as a buyer. I think because it takes time to see a dream come to fruition and providers are almost always focused on the here and now. Whether B2B or B2C, they are all too often looking for a short term, quick transactional sale. They are not investing in the relationship. They are not focused on long-term dreams and change.
As leaders, what are we doing to add value?
I would challenge us to think of this not just as it relates to our customers, but also to our employees. Their hopes and dreams are equally critical to our long-term success as a business. What dreams are we promoting inside our organizations to our employees and outside to our customers? Are they the right ones? Have we really had the deep dialogue necessary to gain an understanding?
Let’s explore our own story arc of possibility. There will never be a better time to determine what sustainable value we have to offer than right now. Are you ready?