August 31, 2010

What If Your Clients Could Buy Direct?

road closed 500x525
We've been looking for solid wood beds made in Canada. No veneer. Only solid oak or maple. Made with care by artists.

We found a retailer and placed an order. The process was like visiting a car dealer (see recovering from bad service). There were several mark-ups at the last minute. Delivery takes 4-6 weeks and only takes place on Thursdays.

We would have preferred to deal direct with the manufacturer because the advisor added more to the price than the experience.

What about your customers?

If you're the exclusive source for a hot gadget like the iPhone4 or iPad, customers will seek you out. If you only face limited competition, you can force your clients to accept the world's longest mobile phone contracts even if they feel cheated.

Most of us face real competition and reasonable substitutes. So client-friendly actions become good business.
Maybe your clients can't buy directly. If they could, can you show why dealing through you is a better choice?

Twelve Books

Seth Godin has written 12 books but now he's going to bypass the traditional publishing world. That process creates delay and adds expense. Seth already reaches readers directly through his excellent blog. He realizes that most of them never bought any of his books at a bookstore. So why stick to old ways that give so little to the readers and the authors?

How does blogging create a viable business model? Well giving away value attracts people to you. Some become clients. Blogging may not be ideal for you.

What if you're in the role of the publisher or if you run a physical book store? Consider getting nicer bed for more comfort during your sleepless nights.

The Middleman Matters

Sometimes the middleman plays a valuable role. For example: the Ferrari Market Letter targets a small niche. Yet roughly 5,000 subscribers pay $130 a year. That's $650,000 of revenue from a select group of buyers, sellers and aficionados.

How can you create value from the viewpoint of the clients who buy your offerings? Here client means the final purchaser, not another intermediary. You may think you're adding value but you're hardly objective.

Why They Buy From You Now

Clients buy for a range of reasons.

Bad Reasons

If your clients deal with you because of
  • ignorance (e.g., comparing mobile phone rate plans)
  • regulation (e.g., limited mobile phone carriers)
  • exclusivity (e.g., AT&T and the iPhone)
how secure is your future in a world of information, deregulation and choice?

Good Reasons

Maybe your clients choose you for your
  1. service (you cure and prevent the headaches)
  2. speed (you eliminate the learning curve a DIYer faces)
  3. quality (your craftsmanship vs their handyman skills)
  4. warranty (your E&O insurance vs their buyer beware)
  5. convenience (who has time to grate cheese anymore?)

Best Reasons

With the right offer, your clients value you and welcome your involvement. Even if they can buy direct.


No comments:

Post a Comment