Back in the “old days” (as our kids say), gaining and retaining new clients and customers was in all likelihood a lot less challenging than today. The obvious factor is that our market was a lot less saturated than it is across the various sectors. If you wanted to go buy your groceries, your family trekked to the local supermarket which was a 20 minute journey away, and you bought most of your items for the month. Getting a take-away for a Friday night dinner was asking yourself if you felt like chicken, burgers or pizza.
Today, one can barely turn without being confronted by numerous supermarkets, hypermarkets and mini markets on almost every corner. Going grocery shopping no longer has to be a monthly “event”, with many consumers preferring to pop out on a daily basis to pick up their supplies. The internet has allowed shoppers to compare their shopping baskets from one store to the next, with the ability to choose the most cost efficient store at the click of a button. A Friday night take-away is no longer a case of feeling like pizza, but what kind of pizza? Debonairs, Pizza Del Forno, Col’cacchio, Andiccio, Dominos, Pizza Perfect, Romans or Pizza Hut…just to name a few.
As more and more competitors enter the market across all sectors, the pieces of the metaphorical pie are getting thinner and thinner. As our economy slows (which as we know is a natural progression, as we await the rise again in the – hopefully – nearby future) the pie itself gets smaller and smaller. Securing business is as cut throat as it could possibly be – and it’s only going to get more challenging. So what distinguishes your business from the rest?
When my husband and I bought our house three years ago, I will never forget the bottle of champagne, the box of chocolates and “congratulations on your new home” card from our estate agent. The phone-call that came weeks afterwards to find out how we were settling in was really a nice touch. I’ll always remember Sandra, and when we decide to sell our current home, she will be the first person I call. I am sure you can identify with going to your supermarket of choice not just because it has the selection you prefer (because let’s be honest, the prices of consumables are pretty much on par with each other), but because you like it there. The cashiers remember to greet you, the store manager knows you by name and the shopping experience as a whole is usually a pleasant one. Retailer Spar, which consumers may agree is slightly more expensive than Pick n Pay, Checkers and Shoprite, markets their way of business from this perspective. Their TV ads often speak about how the butcher knows just how thick to cut your steaks, or how the deli manager acts more as your personal chef. Business is no longer purely based on speedy service, most competitive pricing or quality alone. Consumer decisions are being based more and more on relationships, emotions, connection and trust.
I attended a talk titled “The Experience Culture” recently presented by Marcel Harper, Chief Strategy Officer at Omnicor (www.omnicor.co.za) and a quotation that was quite poignant to me was “Authenticity is becoming the new consumer sensibility and hence the basis for the economy”. To succeed in our increasingly competitive environment, business’ who will attract and retain clients and consumers are those that:
1. Are trustworthy and honest
2. Make their clients feel special
3. Provide tailor made service to their customer
4. Take the environment, corporate social responsibility and sustainability seriously
5. Treat their staff like human beings, and not purely like biological machines
Perhaps the cumulative experience of the above, is to render authenticity in your approach. This is essentially being true to yourself, and true to others. Don’t advertise things that you are not. Allow your customers to experience who you are. Don’t claim to be authentic. Rather just be and let your client tell you that you are. Remember, word of mouth is probably the most powerful form of marketing you simply cannot buy.
Has Holistan been authentic and genuine, in your experience? Let us know what we’re getting right, and where we are going horribly wrong by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org . Our vision is to provide our clients with the customised, personalised service in terms of offering psychometric assessments for recruitment and developmental reasons. But don’t take our word for it: try us out and see for yourself J
Harper (2010), Presentation on: The Experience Culture. Johannesburg: Omnicor
Codrington & Grant-Marshall (2010) Mind the Gap. Johannesburg: Penguin Press
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