Yet ask any prospective purchaser if they would choose to buy from someone who they think is deliberately manipulating them and I’m sure the answer would be “no”. As buyers become increasingly aware of the trickery that passes as sales and marketing, there’s a danger of being ‘found out’. I steer clear of ‘get rich quick’ methods like bombarding people with emails filled with ‘click here to buy’ and ‘this isn’t for everyone’. The ‘half price sale’ that never ends is a way to destroy trust and make it harder for customers to believe what they’re told. Do these manipulations work? Yes, sometimes, but they’re very short-term.
For a business and a customer to continue in a long-term relationship there needs to exist a level of trust and a fair basis of trade: An exchange of goods or services at a fair price for BOTH parties. Charge too much and customers will go elsewhere, charge too little and the business suffers and can’t provide the right level of service and innovation. Sometimes customers are their own worst enemy – they drive down the prices in a market so far that the suppliers can’t offer a decent service – and that in turn backfires on the customers. This tends to happen in commodity markets when one supplier appears to break ranks and lower prices, but in most cases, they’re cutting something. Usually that something is what customers do need in the long-term – like the business still to exist when they make a warranty claim! So what can you do in business to offer and maintain a fair trade and retain loyal customers for repeat business?
You probably agree with this list, but do you actually have strategies in place to achieve and maintain them? Are these true in your business today? If not, what specific actions do you need to take to achieve them? And if they are true today, what do you need to do to ensure they are maintained for many years ahead? One strategy to embed these into your business is to have a quarterly focus on one or more of them so that you revisit them all regularly – it doesn’t need to be daily or weekly. Find ways to involve staff and customers – BUT be aware that they don’t necessarily know the answers – you have to interpret their needs and wants to plot the course for your business and maintain the balance. Don’t get caught up in short-term schemes and manipulative offers – focus on your customers and deal with them with honesty and authenticity.
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