Lucy and Tim, a couple living in Parkfield, California have been in the furniture building business for over 15 years. Little did they know that their real business was something they least expected. One day, a group of horse riders asked if they could ride in their ranch for a fee. They also requested for something to eat. Of course, Lucy and Tim jumped on this opportunity.
By Autumn 2006, their facility was burned down by a raging fire. Unfortunately(or fortunately), this disaster made them to change their course. The couple loved horses and if a few people were willing to pay to ride on their ranch, they thought that maybe more people will like that too. Instead of rebuilding the facility, they invested in building a bunkhouse and set up the necessary infrastructure for people to ride horses. They also included meals and different activities. They opened their new business, called the V6 Ranch midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Now you may begin to wonder why people would pay money just to ride horses in a ranch. The answer is in what Lucy and Tim were actually selling. As Lucy one day put it to a friend who asked the question: “We don’t sell horse rides, we sell freedom. We offer our clients the freedom to escape the cares of this world and be a different person for a moment, and enjoy the freedom they’ve always craved”
For any business to be profitable, it must create value. We tend to use the word “value” in various ways without really knowing what it means. Like Lucy and Tim, you must give your customers what they really want and not what you think they want. I found an interesting definition of value given by Chris Guillebeau in his book, “The $100 Startup” which goes like this: “Value is something desirable and of worth, created through exchange or effort”. Simply put, you create value by helping others. As you build your business, always ask yourself the question: “How can I add more value to others”, How can I help people. If you focus on helping people, there’s no way you can go wrong.
Value is focused on meeting the emotional needs of your customers. How does what you do benefit your customer? The V6 Ranch enables people to “escape the cares of this world and be a different person for a moment”, it’s not about riding horses. That being said, here are 3 core strategies you can apply to offer real value:
1. Go below the Surface to Uncover Hidden Needs
Most times what people say they want and what they actually want are different. Customers don’t want to learn how to catch fish, they want the fish! It’s not always obvious what the client wants. As a wedding photographer, Jane has learned to dig deeper and offer what her clients really need reason why she gets to travel the world covering weddings. Her work is more hip and attracts young couples who don’t like traditional photos. While Jane spends time taking fun shots that the couple will like, she has also learned from experience that the families of the couple could have different tastes. What she does is to encourage the couple to get just a few traditional shots with their families which will be very fast and painless as she says. After delivering these photos, the couple and their families often tend to be very pleased with them. Everyone is happy just because Jane gave them what they really wanted even when the couple didn’t know the wanted it. Always dig deeper to find out what you client really needs.
2. Make Your Customer Feel Special
Purna runs a training business in India which helps people to become great at Microsoft Excel. While Excel doesn’t seem exciting, you’ll probably think otherwise if you know how much his business makes in net income; $136000 in a year and that’s in India. His customers are from all over the world. One of his customers even commented that Purna is his BFF(best friend forever) in Excel. How come people were so excited about this? Again, the key was in Purna’s offer which said something in the lines of: “Our training programs will make you the hero in front of your colleagues and managers”. Your work will become easier and people will praise you for simplifying complex processes. Who doesn’t want to feel special? If someone could make spreadsheets exciting, then really anything can be made exciting. We all desire to be recognized and praised. Find a way to give that feeling to your clients and they will reward you handsomely.
3. Sell what people will buy
This sounds cliché but we often tend to sell what we think people want to buy. Jim learned this lesson in his travel business. After being in over 150 countries, Jim started a business called Travel Maniac which provides a guide on how to book tickets to travel round the world, get discounts and all that good stuff. Initially he sold only 100 copies after the launch which puzzled him given the initial interest. Then he realized that people didn’t care about how airlines worked. They just wanted to know how to buy cheap tickets without any complexities. Jim then pivoted his business to focus on that and then sales increases considerably. He gave clients what they wanted.
As you grow your business, think about how you can help people. Also, don’t sell what you think people need. Dig deeper to find out what they really want and give it to them. Adding value is about meeting the emotional needs of your clients. Find a way to make them feel special and your bank account will share the testimony.
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