The ‘Secret Sauce’ as a Growth Strategy

I love asking our clients this question. “What would your customers or clients say that your company does that no else does?”

I hear the usual answers like, “it’s our quality”, “it’s our product functionality.” “They like our discounts!”

I nod and then shake my head. Then I bring up the subject of buying a coffee. Suddenly the energy level in the room takes off like a rocket. Everyone has an opinion about coffee. And about why the place they get coffee is ten times better than (name your favorite place here). And the debate can go on for hours with people shaking their heads at each other, laughing uproariously and defending the minutiae of the little things that make it precious.

Since I don’t drink coffee I never knew that some people will drive out of their way to get to their favorite coffee place. They will pay for parking, risk being late for their appointments and spend far more than they would for anything else just to get the kind of coffee they want when they want it.

Wouldn’t you love your customers and clients to be rabid fans of your business like people are about their coffee establishments?

What makes one business far more enticing than another? If you want your company to grow, one of the best ways is to look inside your operation to find out what makes or breaks your fan base.

Here’s my top three list to build your fan base:

  • The atmosphere is special. Customers feel special, are treated in ways that other competitors don’t and it’s fun, easy and refreshing to do business with the staff and the automated parts of the system. Remember automation should do more than just serve your company’s needs.
  • The product goes beyond the usual. It’s crafted to deliver value, not competitively positioned to be just like all the others. Daring to be different means taking risks. But that’s what being an entrepreneur is all about. Best way to do it? Don’t just bet on your own instincts. Test it out with your desired target market. Dare to be wrong and fix it rather than hold on to defending your ideas in the face of the market’s lukewarm response.
  • The value derived from the entire experience – The people, the service, the product, delivers a satisfying solution. It solves the right problem in the right way. It’s all in the details, the way staff interact with you the human being, not you, the next person in line or the 85th who has asked that question. Believe it or not, every business ebbs and flows on how engaging their staff is. Staff create the culture that delivers the experience. Your hiring and training program coupled with leadership that manages by example is the only way to up your experience game.

Here are my ‘these guys know what they’re doing’ examples:

  1. The atmosphere is special. All-West Insurance comes to my house to renew my insurance. It takes 10 minutes. Done. Cork and Fin restaurant staff know how to make me feel at home the minute I walk in the restaurant. They are interested and interesting. Jacqueline Conoir gives my husband champagne while I try on her designs brought to me by a professional stylist, not a salesperson.
  2. The Product goes beyond the usual. – Mezzetta produces incredible sauces for pasta, as well as olives and pickles that don’t have citric acid in them. Every other maker puts this flavor enhancer in that gives me, and lots of other people, hives. How come Mezzetta knows the secret to great food that travels well without chemicals and others don’t? They care about the people who eat their products. Allied Blower knows how to fix industrial ventilation systems that really do take the particulate out of the air workers breathe. They don’t just say they do, they actually know how to do it and customers know the difference. They talk about their customers’ workers because they care about making a better work environment.
  3. The Value Derived from the Entire Experience – Bria provides aging in place care in a way that puts meeting real human needs over and above making a return on profit. And they get their desired ROI anyway because they got their priorities in the right order. Century Group builds communities people like to walk in so they can meet the people they live around more often than just in the elevator. People feel at home in their developments. Yyoga designs their studios and facilities so people can easily get in, sweat and come out clean and refreshed without tripping over each other. Its easy to become part of their community.

Want growth? Re-think how you show and demonstrate that you care about the results your product or service is supposed to achieve. Does it really do the full job from the customer’s perspective?

Go shop other people’s businesses. Notice your own reactions. Where do you feel special? When do you feel like running out the door? What products do you adore and which could you take or leave? Who solves your problems better than most? How come? Start noticing your world.

Then shop your own business. And answer the same questions.

Get the real truth. Ask people to describe what it’s like doing business with you, using your products or services. What’s hard? What’s a hassle? What’s sublime?

Now add those spicy elements and fix those pesky problems. And watch growth come to your door for your secret sauce.

Now you’ve got a saleable company.

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