“You’ll find the style you want at the optometrist store on State Street,” my most stylish girlfriend advised. Sure enough, I walked into rack after rack of brands and styles upon entering the shop. While the amount of choice was reassuring at first glance – surely there is a look here for me – I soon felt frustrated. Already daunted by the prospects of wearing glasses full time, selecting “my best” style felt as confusing and full of potential regrets as selecting a college felt when I was 17.
“Can you advise me on a good style for my facial shape?” I asked the elderly clerk ten minutes into my trying styles on. “No. You’re on your own. But I can access the most expensive brands in the locked cases if you want.” Half an hour later, I left. The store’s “best choice” value promise failed to deliver because the owner limited differentiation to physical product alone.
The owner of this store, like many others in this challenging economy, lost a cash-paying customer. And, judging by the speed with which I lost my vision in the last year, I was the kind of customer an owner would want – a frequent buyer willing to pay full price. Had the owner invested in knowledgeable clerks or software programs to help me quickly find a winning look and feel confident in my choice, I’d be a lifetime customer, not a prospect that walked out never to consider the store again.
Whatever your value promise, take execution to the extreme. If you are winning on lowest cost, drive any cost that does not benefit customers out your door, however radical the required changes. If you choose to win on speed, leave no delay unturned. Ask your customers what would knock their socks off if it could be done.
In today’s economy, you must become best on at least one benefit or you must be the lowest cost while meeting minimum requirements to be considered. Staying stuck in the middle is no longer an option for profitability and growth much less attracting and retaining talent.
What are you waiting for? In 2010, become best for some group of people who will thank you when 1-1-11 appears on their calendars.
Happy New Year! May joy and learning be your companion throughout the year, whatever challenges you encounter and victories you create.
For insight on business model innovation, read my recently released book, Beyond Price.