Is Expertise no longer a competitive advantage? An article appearing in Harvard Business Review, titled, The End of Expertise, talks about how expertise is losing the respect that for years had earned premiums in any market where complex knowledge is valued. Talk to people in such professional service industries as private banking, auditing, consulting, even engineering, and you begin to hear concerns about the commoditization of professional knowledge. So much of what Customers would have called an expert for in the past, can be found online in a few minutes today.
Being Human – If genuine expertise is no longer commanding its traditional premium in the marketplace, how can professionals differentiate themselves? It comes back to relationships; building strong, solid relationships, based on emotional connection, trust, and empathy. It is back to the future, where technology has taken us 360 degrees by knowing your client as a person and genuinely being interested in not only him/her as a Customer, but as a person, with a family and dreams.
Brand loyalty on the decline – Research shows that loyalty is in decline. Consumers are considering more brands and switching providers more frequently than ever before. In fact three-quarters of major brand categories decline in loyalty status. Loyalty has changed and businesses need to know it isn’t just about more coupons, points and promotions. Ask yourself if your Company’s loyalty program is truly to reward your top Customers or more of a marketing ploy to get them to spend more. A gift for your VIP Customers should be that, a gift. Not a promotion that only allows them to purchase a product or service that they are not interested in, with a paragraph of restrictions that apply. A great way to think about recognizing and rewarding your best Customers is through gratitude. When someone shows gratitude, it genuinely shows appreciation, with zero intention of benefitting from the act of gratitude.
Your Customers don’t want your brownies – As 2015 comes to an end and businesses start thinking how they are going to show their appreciation to their Customers, one of the most common ways is to send their clients a holiday gift between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. I strongly encourage you not to do this. Think about it, how many gifts get sent to you office during this time? Dozens. Your gift will get lost with all the other ones your Customers are receiving. I know you think they love the brownies you have sent the last 20 years. Instead, consider sending your Customers an appreciation gift during the month of February or June. It will stand out and will be the only gift and thank you card your client receives during at that time. I promise you, no one will even notice you didn’t send the brownies this year.
*Related – Out-love your competition
Do you need to Fall in Love? Ask yourself, ‘What are you truly in love with?’ Love is the most powerful drug. Some people call it passion, purpose or a calling. However, there is only one common denominator that changes a person to the point where they can’t wait for the sun to rise, jumping out of bed in the morning, excited about the day; that is emotion called “LOVE.” Whether it’s romance, your children, your hobby, a cause, product, your customer, or career. Love is obsession. Love is adrenalin that will drive you, make you deaf to the naysayers, make you only see the opportunity, give you the perseverance to withstand the rugged decent when others would bail. Without LOVE, it will be something temporary that eventually gets old. No one has ever accomplished greatness without Love. Are you in love? Do you need to fall in love again?