Value Tastes Better Than Price: A Tale of Eating Out and Eating In

Greek saladYour colleague, Michelle, places great worth in dining at an upscale restaurant every Saturday night while your best friend, Nick, prefers home-cooked meals, exclusively, and finds no value in eating out.

The value prospects find in a product or service can vary, enormously, from one person to the next.

The magic happens when you market your value to your “right” people.

It’s most likely costing Michelle a lot more for her Saturday night meals than Nick but she values every detail that encompasses the experience of enjoying a meal fit for royalty. She treasures the ambiance, entertainment, fine wine, variety of gourmet selections, exquisite table settings, personal service, and decadent desserts.

Getting dressed up on the weekend and heading out for some fine dining and great entertainment is very much a part of Michelle’s lifestyle.

Upscale pricing isn’t a concern.

She’s forking out the big bucks for what she desires – the experience.

Enter the Small Business Owner (You)

What can you learn from Michelle’s and Nick’s preferences that will help you market your value and not your price?

No doubt, how you price your products or services is important. I’m not suggesting you discount or ignore the dollars and cents of profit and loss.

However …

If you focus on pricing as the only deal breaker, you’ll be traveling the quickest route to breaking your business. {Tweet this}

Prospects always want to know, “What’s in it for me?” “Why should I buy from you?” “In what ways is your offer valuable to me?”

The kinds of dining experiences Michelle and Nick value are very different.

Michelle is checking online to see if the hottest band is in town this weekend and performing at one of her favorite restaurants. Nick, on the other hand, is perusing ads in search of local farmers’ markets happening on Saturday. He’s hoping to land some fresh organic produce for his weekend meals.

Value: The Main Ingredient in Your Marketing Dish

The best place to begin to understand “how” to market your value (in lieu of your price) is to create an Ideal Customer Persona. Get into the heads of your target audience and get specific knowledge about them.

Dig really deep.

Michelle is a consumer who:

1.)  Is in her mid 20’s

2.)  Enjoys being in social settings

3.)  Loves music and other forms of entertainment

4.)  Appreciates the finer things in life

5.)  Works in a corporate setting and eats all her lunches out

6.)  Has discretionary income and loves to buy special occasion gifts for everyone in her circle of friends and family

7.)  Is vivacious and fun-loving; the life of the party

8.)  Is single and dating

9.)  Frequents local upscale venues for dates and outings with her friends

Nick occupies a different spot on the spectrum. He’s a consumer who is:

1.)  In his early 30’s

2.)  Happily married

3.)  Enamored with fantasy, science fiction, and all things geeky

4.)  The father of triplets

5.)  Budget-conscious and a good saver

6.)  A self-employed small business owner

7.)  A trainer and public speaking ace

8.)  A creative and quick thinker who appreciates people with a good sense of humor and sharp wit

9.)  Health conscious, prefers organic foods, and loves to cook

Michelle is a big spender who has the means to support her out-on-the-town lifestyle while Nick is a family man who needs to watch his pennies. They both enjoy tasty well-prepared meals but one is eating out and the other is eating in.

As a single woman, Michelle is not financially responsible for anyone but herself. Nick is saving up to put triplets through college some day. (Yikes!)

This is just the beginning of creating ideal customer personas for Michelle and Nick.

To dig even deeper, we could explore areas such as pets, favorite sports teams, hobbies, locale, favorite movies or books, special interests, and causes or charities they support.

Please Show Me the Way

You may be thinking, “This is all well and good, Melanie, but how do I uncover what’s valuable to prospective buyers? If price won’t seal the deal, what will it take to show my value?”

So glad you asked.

Now go and ask them!!

I’m serious. That’s the only way you’re going to find out exactly what your target audience values (Unless, of course, you’re a mind reader.)

  • Post questions on social media channels.
  • Encourage feedback on your blog.
  • Send a survey to your email subscribers. Be specific and keep it short. Offer a small perk for completing your survey.
  • Follow up with your current customers or clients and ask them to share what they value most about doing business with you. Then post those testimonials on your web pages.
  • Invite your target audience (and/or your colleagues; others in your niche) to brainstorming sessions. Rely on Skype or G+ Hangouts or explore online brainstorming and collaboration tools.
  • Use reverse thinking. Ask people why they “wouldn’t” buy from you? What’s the missing ingredient for them? Why do they not find value in your offerings? And what would it take to convert them into buyers?
  • Include the features (cold hard facts) of what you’re marketing, for sure, but REALLY HONE IN on the benefits (e.g. easier access; no appointment needed; faster turnaround; simpler process; quicker results; proven strategies; open all night; backed by research; stress-free assembly; 24-hour customer service; makes your skin look radiant, etc.). Ask people which benefits they value most and why. Use that feedback to improve your sales pages, blog posts, and landing pages.

Become a value-laden marketer, not a price-pitching salesperson. {Tweet this}

The bottom line: Gathering as many details as possible about your target audience will help you market your value and give your customers or clients precisely what they desire.

Lay some feedback on me

Do you have a tip for small business owners to help them market their value?

My fellow small biz blogging buddies have some fab tales to share with you in the month’s Mission: Storytelling. Grab a cuppa and head over to “Value and Price: What’s Your Work Worth?”

  • Madie Hodges

    Hey Melanie! I have a question about your blog. Could you please shoot me an email when you get a chance? Thanks!!

    • Want to be a little more specific about your question, Madie? What is it you’d like to know about my blog?

  • I love the way, you explained the concept of finding your own niche. Reading through your post and responses, all sound a lot of work. However, if you continuously stay in touch with your visitors, customers or buyers and keep asking what they like and don’t like you will get there eventually. You will make hundreds of changes to your business or website over the years.

    Customers are more forthcoming than you think if you are willing to listen. However, too many people in business or online have the attitude of “this is what I serve, tough if you don’t like it”. My father always used to say “let’s first listen to what they say. If we don’t like their ideas we can always use our own brain”. You can first listen and it is up to you to make whatever changes you feel right.

    • Hello Alli

      Thanks for your visit and all the wonderful feedback!

      You hit the proverbial nail on the head:
      “Customers are more forthcoming than you think if you are willing to listen.” It takes a measure of selflessness to be successful with your marketing. Attitude, outlook, and good listening skills definitely matter. Those business-owners who are 100% self-centered and self-serving are REALLY missing the boat!

  • Say, that Nick fellow sure sounds familiar!

    All in all, yes yes yes! Surveying your audience and comparing it to who you think your ideal customer is – awesome advice.

    Moreover looking for disconfirming information about why someone would opt out of a purchase from you is a really good exercise, but it requires humility that many small business owners lack without proper third-party help.

    I not only ask for feedback via the blog, I ask for it via my email, my social media channels, everywhere I can. Anywhere I get feedback, I document it and put it into a spreadsheet for further analysis. FDR used to do this same thing, asking the American Public to write him letters. Any dip in the letters and he’d ply them again. And he’d aggregate the data but also look at a sample for tenor and tone.

    • I thought “Nick” might sound like someone you know, Nick. 😉

      Wasn’t aware FDR did that “letter” thing. Pretty darn cool if you ask me! He was one smart cookie checking the pulse of the American public. Small biz owners need to do the same with their prospects and current clients or customers.

      I can personally attest you do a great job of garnering feedback via your emails, blog, and social media channels. REALLY good idea to create a spreadsheet with your findings. You’re a marketing rock star!

      Mucho thanks for sharing your insights!

  • Personas sound so easy yet they are incredibly slippery little buggers.

    I confess when I started out my description was “Any small business owner…” Not very helpful at all! Once I started blogging (because everyone said you had to have a blog) I discovered my most popular posts let my personality shine. While I was worried my clients wanted me to be serious and professional I discovered they wanted fun and experienced.

    Your advice for asking is spot on. I learned about my right clients by asking my favorite peeps what they loved about working with me. Why they picked me over someone else. In fact I still do that now, my client avatars are a work in progress. I only wish I had read this post 3 years ago.

    • Oh, Nicole, you’re a keeper!

      A fine example of one of those sparkly moments, complete with all the glitz and glitter and flowing confetti:
      “While I was worried my clients wanted me to be serious and professional I discovered they wanted fun and experienced.” Ooh! I love a [client persona] revelation. 🙂

      Many thanks for swinging by!

  • Throughout the 4 years of running my freelance biz, I’ve learned that creating a breakdown of your ideal customers *seems* easy, but it can take some time to figure out. I feel like I’ve finally got more of a handle on this, and I’ve started to have a little bit more success with my marketing because of it. Knowing the traits of your customers (and potential customers) really helps you imagine them as the real people they are, and appeal to them in a clearer, more persuasive way.

    Great post, Melanie!

    • Now we’re talkin’ turkey, Molly! “Knowing the traits of your customers (and potential customers) really helps you imagine them as the real people they are … ”

      Let’s be downright honest …

      What REALLY sells? What does your ideal customer or client REALLY want from you? A relationship. Show that you care about “who” they are and “what” they’re interested in and “why” … and you’ll build a relationship that lasts and lasts. 🙂

      Thanks a bundle for dropping in!

  • Of course I loved this wonderful story…I could swear you know how I roll sometime..yep in my 20’s too (in my fantasy of me and my determination of remaining younger 🙂 ). I do love good farmers market too…the new budget/healthy side as well as I do love to eat out! This is excellent advise and I love the suggestions for building our persona’s of our ideal clients so we know exactly how to provide value to them!

    • Elated this post resonated, Michelle!

      It’s interesting (but not a surprise) you’re someone who relishes dining out as well as shopping at farmers’ markets and eating in. Hence, your persona would include both. By the way, I definitely see you as fun-loving and the life of the party. 😉

      Thanks for knocking on my blog’s door! Appreciate the visit.

  • Melanie thanks for your post – you challenge me to get to know more about my readers/subscribers. This goes against my “privacy” bias but when I look at it as a way to really know how I can help more, it feels like the right way to proceed. Thanks!

    • Hey, look who’s here! Thanks for swinging by, Lisa.

      ” … when I look at it as a way to really know how I can help more, it feels like the right way to proceed.” You’ve hit a high note, on key, in perfect pitch. 🙂

      On another “note” …
      Your “Kids and Chores” post is a beauty! Great job!

  • Great stuff, Melanie, and you’ve added something new to the discussion. Love these tips for understanding who your clients are and what they want. It’s something we often forget to do.

    • You might not think knowing a writing client loves ice cream, owns three cats, and is an avid fisherman as anything important to your marketing, right? Wrong! The more you know, the better you can communicate your value. The better the communication, the better the relationship, and the bigger the profits. 🙂

      Glad you enjoyed this post, Sharon, and found some value in my tips. Thanks for joining the conversation!

  • Melanie, this post is spot on! It is never about price, only about value and THAT is in the eye of the beholder. So if you don’t know your “beholder”, you won’t be very successful.

    You have to give your clients what they want (what they value) and then you can slip in what they actually need.

    • Daphne! VERY sweet of you to stop by – thanks!

      Kudos and cupcakes for this:
      “So if you don’t know your “beholder”, you won’t be very successful.” Tooooo true! It all starts with pulling back the curtain to discover what makes your prospects tick .

      You do an awesome job of delivering value over at Event Strategy Solutions!

  • Melanie I love the perspective you brought to this topic. Just when I ask myself “what could we POSSIBLY say about value that isn’t more of the same?” Here you are with a reminder that our value isn’t something we bestow on ourselves, but something that other people find in us. I can think I’m worth a whole bag of rice but if I don’t have what someone wants or needs then it hardly matters what I think.

    You’re absolutely right that you have to find the right people for your services because you don’t have to spend so much time proving your worth. You’re already worth it!

    • Many thanks, Carol Lynn – you’ve made my day! 🙂

      I tend to view things from a simple perspective (You know, cause I’m getting older and well … time). Why complicate matters?! ” … if I don’t have what someone wants or needs then it hardly matters what I think.” Bingo!! You win.

      In my book, you’re worth a WHOLE LOT MORE than one measly bag of rice. 😉

      I appreciate you.

  • Love your tips for discovering what matters to the client. It really IS all about that. The research can NOT be skipped over. AND it’s a continuous process. I think where people get tripped up with this is trying to meet the needs of too many types of people all at once. They’re afraid to narrow their focus (for fear of missing out on clients) and so end up doing scatter-shot marketing.

    • “Scatter-shot marketing”. Hardly pays off, right, Tea? Far too broad a market. I oftentimes hear folks say their target audience is … well … everybody with a pulse. Super. Please get back to me in about two years and let me know how that’s workin’ for ya.

      Thanks a million for dropping in! 🙂

  • Love the practical suggestions for demonstrating value, Melanie. I would add, once you know what your target audience values – deliver that. Perhaps it’s a “how-to” that simplifies their life. Or a list of resources.

    You deliver value by showing customers you value them. 🙂

    • I’m going to nickname you “Speedy”, Cathy. You’re first, again, to comment. 😉

      You’ve made a really good point. Knowing your prospects and what they value is the first step. “Delivering” what they value most is just as critical. Not only delivering highly-valued tips and resources but items such as your social media updates, email subscriber communications, and of course, products, programs, and/or services that solve their most pressing problems.

      Thanks for the visit today!

  • Pingback: Value and Price: What’s Your Work Worth? | Word Carnivals()