Become Preferred: Make Customers Want You

“Recessions are a great time to gain market share. That’s when you grow. That’s when dissatisfaction is at its highest. You need discontent,” said Michael Vickers (@michael_vickers), Executive Director of Summit Learning Systems in his presentation “Become Preferred: Up-Level the Brand Experience” at the CRM Evolution 2012 conference in New York City.

In his presentation, Vickers went about trying to answer the question, “How do we become preferred in our marketplace regardless of market conditions?”

How do you make your brand experience unique and different from the competition?

While we have an endless array of copycat type companies, Vickers advises businesses to say “No” to imitation. If you do follow the imitation path, you’ll get into an endless cycle of competitive benchmarking. “You want to be considered the only ones that do what you do,” said Vickers, quoting Jerry Garcia.

It’s not about the best product. It’s about the best experience. Your goal should be to become the preferred provider of what you sell, continued Vickers. One way to constantly differentiate is to challenge your assumptions.

Identify the stress of your customers better than your competition, remove it, and then connect, Vickers said explaining that people often don’t make rational decisions, well not initially. People make their decisions first with emotion and then they back it up with logic.

Take a standard service offering and up-level it

A simple way you can “up-level” your offering is to send out a “Thank you” note which moves you out of being seen as just a transaction to that of an experience. The “Thank you” note becomes memorable and therefore you create an experience with that simple action. Even when you don’t have a deal in play or no product sold, you have to add an experience. It gives you points in a relationship for which you can cash in later, like when you screw up, said Vickers.

Vickers offered this formula for achieving preferred status:

(Expected Value + Distinctive Value) x Trust = Preferred Status

To get to preferred status, said Vickers, you need to level up through these three stages:

Loyalty – Be scared of this. Don’t want people to just be “satisfied” with your service. Loyalty can be bought.
Advocacy – Word of mouth business.
Insistence – They want you. They ask for you.
Truly understand what business you’re in. Always ask “Why” people are buying your product. Once you answer the “Why,” align yourself with it, Vickers said.

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