Ever been to WPPI or PPE conventions and see rows and rows of companies offering the same products or services? Literally exactly the same. Here’s one – album companies.

Many less experienced companies differentiate themselves with price. “Come look at me! I produce the same thing for cheaper!”

“Forget that company, I’m even cheaper!”

Here’s the sad part: price is not scalable. If that is your unique selling proposition, then you might as well close your business. Pricing is a strategy in itself (I’m releasing an e-book on this on December 1, 2010).

So, how do you conquer ubiquity? And if you’re a photographer, most photos look equally “good” to the general public. Ack!

Starbucks

In an earlier article, I talked about how to brand yourself and find your unique selling proposition.

In a world saturated with coffee houses, how did Starbucks become the preferred choice? Service.

We’re in the people business serving coffee, not the coffee business serving people..

Howard Schultz
Pioneer and Chairman of Starbucks

It’s Not About the Coffee: Lessons on Putting People First from a Life at Starbucks by Howard Behar, Janet Goldstein, and Howard Schultz

it's not about the coffee book

HAPPY CUSTOMERS =
HAPPY COMPANY

Zappos

Think about it. Every company sells the same shoes. Whether I buy a pair of Nike running shoes at Big 5 or XYZ Store, same.

So how can you be different when everything is the same? Service.

Zappos‘s website proclaimed that they’re a “service company that just happens to sell shoes.” And they back it up with their super service guarantees!

zappos

No loss there! So why not?

24 Hour Fitness

What makes a gym? Aside from the hunky guys or pretty girls, what else?

  • Good equipment
  • Big televisions
  • Amenities / spa
  • Showers
  • Lockers
  • Clean facilities
  • Various locations

If LA Fitness or XYZ Fitness got all of the same things, how will they compete?

  • Pricing – slash prices until they’re not profiting?
  • Service.

24 hour fitness my club knows me by name

My club knows me by name. Not by member number.

Every time I put my index finger on the scanner, they always say, “Have a good workout, Lawrence!”

“Why thank you person behind the counter!!” I always respond.

YOUR COMPANY IS ONLY AS STRONG AS THE HAPPINESS OF YOUR CUSTOMERS

Your Company

The holidays are near. Take the extra step!

  • Give your old and new clients a call
  • Write them a card
  • Check up on what they’re doing
  • See what they have planned for the holidays
  • As much as possible, avoid talking shop

It’s like the pleasant feeling of finding a mint on your hotel pillow. Customers will appreciate you.

Next steps…

  1. If you love good customer service, spread the love with Retweet and Facebook buttons below!
  2. Comment where you’ve experienced phenomenally good (or bad) customer service, so that we can all learn from you.

That was fun writing,

Lawrence Chan

P.S. It’s extra fun because I get to write about companies I love. Today, I am officially a Gold Level member at Starbucks! Now, let the free coffee begin!

P.P.S. I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your loyal readership! I hope I have been able to answer many of your questions or concerns regarding business marketing. I always love hearing the feedback via comments, facebook and twitter!

P.P.P.S. Here’s a lovely email I received a couple of days ago from Amy Zumwalt about business and pricing strategy that I wanted to share.

I have read your blog religiously and found it to be (duh) very helpful. I’m one of those artsy-fartsy, ADHD, “why doesnt my business take off just because i’m a badass artist” types.. the part between sales and the talent is completely greek to me.

I picked up my first dslr in september of 09. and just had my first wedding consultation this past sunday. (never really had a client find me online and meet me for a consult). but thanks to what i’ve read from you, along with my refusal to work for less than what I believe I’m worth, I booked the wedding on Sunday for 4800. totally did all that after your package blog and really felt confident about what i was offering even though 4800 for 6 hrs of photography and an engagement session is really high for my area.

I am so confident in my pricing and why I include what I include, that I was really able to come across as a vendor who knew what she would really want when all was said and done, even though [the bride] admittedly didnt know what she wanted yet. I felt like I was successful at making myself look trustworthy, knowledgeable, and worth the extra money – and I’M A TERRIBLE SALESPERSON!

I’m sort of bragging right now because (a) i’m stoked (b) no one around here charges that much (bc they’re SILLY) and (c) because I honestly feel like you are succeeding GREATLY at what you do. Not only are you a great marketing strategist, but you are great at teaching ME how to do what will work for me.

I hated at first that you wouldnt just come out and say “here, do this!”.. but of course that’s brilliant on your part.

You are an excellent leader. You should do seminars like … good at inspiring and informing other photographers. (wait.. do you already do them? if so, i’m embarrassed)

POINT…

thank you

and

you are VERY good at this.

and

the better you are at getting wedding photographers to charge for their work, the better life will be for all photographers. seriously, thanks. and more power to ya.

Basically I feel confident about my decisions because I feel like there’s Lawrence Chan out there in my corner! LOL

Haha Amy makes me sound like I’m a trainer for a professional boxer… Wait, that means I endorse fighting.😑

Read more about this e-book HERE.

Or …

[price-item item_number=”2″ category=”pricing ebook”]