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  • 3 Things You Thought Mattered – And What Really Matters

    2 July 2010

    Question & ExclamationThere’s no denying that the Internet, including Social Media, has significantly changed the way people do business.  The attitudes of customers as a whole have shifted, and the power is moving into the hands of those customers more and more every day.  While some of the changes brought about by the move to online communications are more obvious than others, what’s clear is that the companies that will thrive going forward are those that learn to adapt their thinking as the business world changes.  If you’re a student of old-school business and marketing, you might still be clinging to some outdated beliefs about what’s important in your business.  To help illustrate the shift we’re talking about and provide some pointers on how to deal with the changes, following are three things that just don’t matter as much as they used to, and what really matters today.

    1. Quality – What? Quality doesn’t matter?  Of course it does.  Quality is more of an expectation now though.  What that means is that you can no longer tout your product or service’s quality as the primary reason for doing business with your company.  You need to go beyond quality.

    2. Price – Like quality, price is certainly important to some extent, but competing on price alone just won’t cut it.  If you’re the low-price leader, and that’s all you’ve got going for you, you’re in trouble.  With advances in manufacturing processes and the continued move to inexpensive, overseas solutions, “cheap” is easier to come by than true differentiation.

    3. Testimonials – Have some customers who love you?  Guess what – so does your competition.  While there’s nothing wrong with displaying testimonials on your site, don’t expect them to be the thing that swings customers your way.  First of all, we’ve all become a little distrusting of testimonials.  Secondly, customers know that testimonials from a company are like references on your resume: You’re only going to list those you know have something great to say, so how much do they really matter?

    What matters today…

    1. Simplicity – Customers want processes to be simple.  This goes for every step of the customer experience, from ordering to paying, from shipping to customer service issues.  Make things too complicated, whether it’s with your order process or how people use your product, and they’ll go elsewhere.

    2. Innovation – More strides in innovation have taken place in the past 20 years than in the previous 100, and we’re all eating it up.  People love the latest and greatest, and if it makes them look cool, all the better.  If your products and processes offer a new or better way of doing things, you’ll attract customers and keep them coming back for more.

    3. Honesty – One word that has become more than just another buzzword lately is “transparency.”  It’s no secret that our current economic condition is at least in part due to a lack of transparency, and people are fed up with it.  Even a hint of impropriety or dishonesty will have your potential customers running for the hills.  People have always wanted to be treated with honesty, but today more than ever, they’re demanding it, and looking out for any chinks in the integrity armor.

    4. Straight Talk – This goes along with honesty, but it’s a little different.  Straight talk has to do with getting rid of all the games that companies often play.  For example, when a guarantee or discount is offered, but the little asterisk next to the headline refers to a litany of conditions, restrictions, and limitations, it quickly deflates any excitement the original offer created.  This also goes back to the simplicity point.  Straight, simple talk is what will win customers over now, not perceived tricks and scams.

    The companies that survive and thrive in the economy of today and the years to come will be able to identify these and other changes in public wants and needs and adjust their game plans accordingly.  Those that can’t or aren’t willing to adapt on the fly will simply go away.  It’s survival of the fittest, and the fittest in business are those who evolve the most efficiently.  What are your thoughts?  We’d love to continue the conversation in the comments section!

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    29 Responses to 3 Things You Thought Mattered – And What Really Matters

    1. Robert Stockham July 2, 2010 at 6:17 am #

      I have to say that you are spot on here! I have built my online client base by being honest and straight forward. I don’t compete on price. I will say that testimonials are important, but I believe more in a one on one, word of mouth basis than a quote from a stranger kind of way.

    2. Andrew @ Blogging Guide July 2, 2010 at 6:27 am #

      You have stated some great points here. And I would like to add great customer service. Customers buy the product and sometimes what makes them come back is if they were happy with how you serviced or treated them. Satisfaction does not stop with the product itself but extends until right after they have already bought the product.

    3. Purushyottam Ghosh July 2, 2010 at 7:31 am #

      You are right on about testimonials. Let me add that some well known marketers add so many of them that they simply stick out like oddity in the sales pages. Oh, and thanks for pointing out the need for “simplicity”: I can vouch for the fact that it works great. All in all, I feel that in today’s times, small business owners can adapt to the new “customer-oriented marketing approach” quicker than the corporates. :)

    4. lingerie July 2, 2010 at 9:35 am #

      Honesty is the most important thing of all. I dont like my customers to have even a slightest idea of us being dishonest with them.

    5. JohnAtBlogtrepreneur July 2, 2010 at 10:10 am #

      @Robert: Agreed. Word of mouth is more important than ever. An in-person testimonial is meaningful. One from “Joe from Ohio” listed on your site isn’t powerful.

      @Andrew: Yes! It’s all about customer experience! Without mentioning it, that’s really what I think this post is about.

      Thanks all for the comments! Keep ‘em coming!

    6. aggelies July 2, 2010 at 11:58 am #

      Andrew spotted another very important point in my opinion, great customer support. Trying to go above and beyond customer expectations, will make them coming back for more.

    7. Brandon Connell July 2, 2010 at 2:49 pm #

      Right on point man. People can easily spot “fake” people who don’t write honestly and beat around the bush.

    8. cleaning services July 2, 2010 at 9:39 pm #

      Honesty, credibility and simplicity are hugely important in today’s online society. Honesty in business will always get you the most important referrals – word of mouth, and it’s this that will see any business flourish. Great post.

    9. South Florida Pool Builders July 2, 2010 at 9:46 pm #

      I have to agree with most of the comments but lets not remember ” Service”. It can take years to create all what listed in this post, and it can all come crashing down in minutes.

      Never loose the site that your customer is a lifetime partner, if you give great customer service after the sale, he can turn out to be one your best Salesperson.

    10. Email Marketing Blog July 3, 2010 at 6:45 am #

      I agree that simplicity is important in the sales process, but you can’t confuse that with upselling. Godaddy upsells like crazy and is one of the most widely recognized web hosting/domain sellers in the world.

      Their sales process is not simple by any means but it does generate revenue.

    11. viral marketing July 3, 2010 at 8:04 am #

      Honest sales pitches can sometimes work a treat but only if you already have some reputation. Otherwise people will simply won’t be impressed.

    12. David Winston July 3, 2010 at 6:56 pm #

      Simply put, but very well stated. It’s easy to overlook things like simplicity and get too caught up in price and price competition. When you’re bombarded by as much media input as we are today, we need to remember that customers are looking for efficiency and ease of use.

      Very nice job.

    13. Mark Nasri July 3, 2010 at 11:14 pm #

      I think that Honesty is the main point and you should concentrate on it.

    14. Email Marketing Blog July 4, 2010 at 4:48 am #

      @Mark Nasri

      I agree with you there – being completely transparent would make the reader trust you more and in turn, act on your recommendation.

    15. Bidet July 4, 2010 at 9:18 am #

      I agree with all of these, these are all important especially honesty. Honesty goes a long and if you have a trustworthy site people will buy from you more.

    16. JohnAtBlogtrepreneur July 4, 2010 at 10:01 am #

      @Email Blog: You make a great point about Godaddy. I use them a lot, and their process isn’t simple, but I continue to use them because the price and service are great. I wonder if we’ll see them changing things or if this will continue to work for them… only time will tell.

      Looks like pretty much everyone believes that honesty and transparency are the most important points. Interesting to see some marketers still holding onto games and tricks to sell their products. They won’t continue to work.

    17. Homejobsite July 5, 2010 at 7:17 am #

      I guess what you are saying in this article, is to create good Karma, and the potencial of what comes around, goes around – even in business and entrepreneurial activities. I believe that to be true as well!

    18. Credit Girl July 5, 2010 at 9:03 am #

      This is a really creative post, John! Nowadays, consumers know what they want and what they need so it’s in our best interest to give it to them in the simplest form possible.

    19. Laptop Briefcases July 5, 2010 at 12:38 pm #

      Online business definitely is changing as the net evolves with things like social media. It is becoming easier and easier to compare price and find competing products. A lot of people heavily rely on what other people are saying about your product or service. So when managing customer testimonials, don’t neglect off-site testimonials as those can be more credible. Overall you just need to provide the best possible user experience. Those who don’t satisfy their customers will not achieve long term success.

    20. Jason July 5, 2010 at 1:20 pm #

      Simplicity is a huge key, especially in the design of a company’s website. So many people overlook simplicity, and feel like they need to add all kinds of bells and whistles to appease customers. If you look at any of the most successful websites, whether it’s Google, Amazon, CNN, etc, you will notice that they all use a very simple design. You don’t see any fancy flash introductions, or bombardments of “Sign Up Now!” pop-ups that customers hate. If you keep it simple, and help customers find what they’re looking for, you are far more likely to facilitate a sale (instead of an extra addition to your bounce rate for the month).

      Good job mentioning honesty too; without honesty, you’ll probably never see a repeat customer.

    21. lingerie July 5, 2010 at 3:22 pm #

      domain registrars are a different concept. godaddy made its name with the cheapest prices and now we all got used to their interface, nobody wants to switch. i hate their shopping cart and 5 step checkout but i still dont switch :)

    22. Kelvin Forex Indicator July 5, 2010 at 4:54 pm #

      The quality of products are about the same nowadays and it will boils down to branding and pricing that makes the sales.

    23. used tires July 6, 2010 at 4:11 pm #

      I think testimonials have definitely lost their allure when it comes to online sales pitching, especially if it is not from a trusted source. I think for the most part, testimonials where the reader can relate to them person giving the testimonial are likely the only still relevant testimonials out there. But their effectiveness have definitely gone down hill compared to the past.

      Till then,

      Jean

    24. Corinne July 12, 2010 at 6:33 am #

      Good article Adam. I think that the three things you listed do still matter a little bit, but it’s definitely more important to focus on the things you listed as really mattering. Customers really do want simplicity especially since no one has any extra time today!

    25. Reverse Phone Lookup July 12, 2010 at 9:21 am #

      That is a great list.The one thing I would like to add to those four points is ‘intuitiveness’.The system should be as intuitive as possible so that Customers can easily guess where to find what.

    26. Marriage Information July 13, 2010 at 4:48 am #

      I need to remember to put the testimonials up on a few of my sites, they really do make a difference I just keep neglecting to put them up!

    27. Visiam July 18, 2010 at 11:20 am #

      I agree, in the age of social media where messaging is coming at us from all directions, Your message and implementation must be simple. Clients want information that moves themselves or their business ahead and they want to integrate it quickly. If they are violated by wasting their time with “spin” or complexity, there will be no traction much less transaction!

    28. Catalin October 14, 2010 at 6:18 am #

      I personally dislike displaying testimonials as people begun taking advantage of them by posting fake outstanding testimonials from “John Smith”, along with that, clients have also begun ignoring them. Modesty to some extent is also vital if wisely used, i.e. “This is the best product”.
      Simplicity, well pointed! It’s what people inevitably look for.
      Last, but not least, open-minded advertisement that at times can have some subtle sense of humor and what not, it’s what help companies build a closer relationship with the clients.
      What do you think? :)

    29. Marshall Almand December 4, 2011 at 1:15 pm #

      Simplicity has always been the best approach to selling any product or service…

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