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I will try my best to update this webpage with  thought provoking and interesting content, as often as I can.  Please feel free to leave comments as  there is much that can be learnt from the sharing of ideas.

By pa360, Sep 6 2015 02:50PM

Every entrepreneur wants a loyal customer base. The dream is to have patrons who choose to come back again & again and who, over time, develop a personal identification with the product or service that they use. However, if it were as simple as that, everyone would be doing it – but it is not. Building and sustaining customer loyalty is painstaking work. It requires a high-level of commitment and the rewards can quickly disappear if you take your eye off the ball.


That said, there are specific things that entrepreneurs can do to build and crucially sustain, customer loyalty. Set out below are eight key tips that can be applied by any business or enterprise.


1. Develop relationships not engagements - the reason why people return again and again to the same product or service is because, over time, they develop a close relationship with that product or service. Unlike casual engagements or interactions, relationships are established through credibility, confidence and trust. To build the relationship value of your product, you must first recognise the relationship value in your product.


2. Use what you learn to improve what you do – the fluid and fast-moving pace of today’s commercial market-place dictates that if you are not moving forward you are moving backwards. Entrepreneurs are always seeking for the competitive edge that will attract new customers and ultimately increase their market share. To stay relevant, you need to constantly surf the curve of innovation. Don’t just do it to be bigger, do it to be better.


3. Never compromise on quality – if you produce high quality products, customers will not only buy them, they will tell others who will buy them as well. The credibility that comes with word of mouth advertising is not only priceless to you, it is also absolutely free. Don’t be tempted to cut costs or corners; maintain a relentless focus on making a great product.


4. Make it personal and make it convenient - personalisation and convenience are the new ‘Klondike’ of product innovation. Customers want products that speak to them and can be tailored to their specific needs and lifestyle preference. The greater the convenience the more likely you are to create ‘life goods’ rather than consumer goods.


5. Fix it when it goes wrong - if you have parted with your cash to purchase a product or service it is reasonable to expect that product to meet your expectations. But what happens if it doesn’t? For customers, the next best thing is for the producer or supplier to rectify the problem quickly and effectively. As a supplier, you need to pay just as much attention to rectifying a product ‘fail’ as you do to securing a product ‘sale’.


6. See your customers as a community – your customers all have something in common: the fact that they use your product. You need to build on that commonality by cultivating your customer community. I am struck by how phenomenally successful Apple have been at turning their customer base into a thriving community of the like-minded. Think about what drives community: culture, shared values etc and start to mould these characteristics around your product.


7. Give your product an effective social media platform – a social media presence is the price of admission if you want to be taken seriously in the commercial market-place. But you need to have more than a presence, you need an effective presence. The social media market-place is absolutely saturated with vendors of every description and the noise can be deafening. To be heard above the din, you need to be saying something that no-one has heard before.


8. Don’t re-invent the wheel – observe the practices and behaviours of those who seem to have cracked it and look to replicate the best market standards in your area of operation. Better than that, look to improve on the best market standards. Don’t re-invent the wheel, but be prepared to raise the bar.


It bears remembering that the pivot for customer loyalty is the product. If you have a great product, half the battle is won. A great product means that customers will come; but if you cultivate great relationships, customers will stay.


By pa360, Jul 31 2015 09:18AM

The latest published results for the third quarter of 2015 (Q3 of 2015) reveal that Apple achieved gross revenue of $49.6bn. Apparently this is up some $12.2bn on quarter 3 of 2014. Put in some sort of context, Apple’s gross revenue for Q3 of 2015 alone is (according to the World Bank) the same as the Gross Domestic Product of Tunisia for the whole of 2014.


So what is the secret of Apple’s extraordinary success? Well for this blog I have compiled seven of the least publicised secrets, which in my view give Apple a unique edge over its competitors.


1. Turning product into cultural experience – back in 1998 I doubt whether the higher ups at Apple imagined how far their brand would develop over the next 15 years. However, whether as part of a concerted strategy or through slick marketing and customer engagement, Apple is now much less a consumer brand and much more a cultural phenomenon. When a brand goes cultural and transcends the market place, you are no longer buying a product, you are buying into an experience.


2. Anticipating consumer need – probably the most unique thing about Apple’s product development strategy is that it appears to provide what the customer needs before the customer even realises it. In such a situation, the supplier only needs to correctly anticipate customer need once, before a dependent relationship is established. As the dependency increases, the supplier is able to heighten anticipation so much so, that the consumer doesn’t just want the product, they clamour for it.


3. Connecting smart products to other smart products – did you ever hear that quote about the American gold rush? It goes something like this: “the ones who got rich during the American gold rush were not the people who found the gold, it was the guy who sold them the shovels”. In the same way, Apple have cleverly situated their products as a kind of market-place doorway, enabling direct or indirect access to a wider range of products, services and opportunities.


4. Spawning the growth of new markets – it is amazing how Apple’s success has not only re-awakened an industry, it has also created an industry in its wake. Not only have other providers had to catch up, new supply chains of start-ups have emerged with data miners and app developers devising magnificent new tools to increase customer personalisation and convenience.


5. Moving from lifestyle accessory to life necessity – I can think of many products that are lifestyle accessories. Such products offer a high degree of personalisation, convenience, customisation and choice. But other than food, water, heat, light and shelter I cannot think of too many products or services that I would describe as necessities. Part of the success of Apple, is the triumph of market psychology whereby the consumer believes that they do not need the product to make their life comfortable, they need it to make their life possible.


6. Taking up a unique strategic vantage point – if you stand where others stand you will invariably see exactly what they see. The challenge is to secure a slightly different vantage point which will enable you to see what they cannot. From Apple’s perspective they have been able to take up multiple unique vantage points from the perspective of the supplier, the supply chain and the customer. This market triangulation approach is entirely unique.


7. Adding to the popular vocabulary – iPhone; iPad; iTunes and iMac are now part of the modern pop-culture lexicon. There is a lesson to learn here for product makers which is that if you are going to create a good product, make sure that it’s a good product worth remembering and one that is easy to remember.


Cutting-edge product design and high quality development are undoubtedly the core of Apple’s phenomenal success. But around that core, the tech giants have deployed sophisticated and innovative techniques in customer relationship management and market psychology to make their offer not just attractive, but compelling.


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