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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, Jan 17 2015 11:40AM

People often bemoan the lack of opportunity in their professional lives. Quite understandably, they want to have better jobs, that pay more money and offer better long term career prospects. The reality is that often-times we are competing for opportunities in markets that are saturated with our particular 'product'. At other times we are offering a 'product' that no-one really wants. Clearly, if you are uncompetitive either due to market saturation or low product value, you will not be able to achieve the benefits or generate the 'profits' that you are aiming for.


It strikes me that if you want to 'trade' successfully in the market-place of opportunity you must first have a marketable 'product' to offer. I think it was the late Apple Chief Executive, Steve Jobs who described it this way: "If you keep your eye on the profit, you’re going to skimp on the product. But if you focus on making really great products, then the profits will follow".


Maybe at times our focus is not quite right. Perhaps we are overly concerned with making 'profit' (eg: finding a new job, getting a pay rise or winning a promotion) and lose focus on making ourselves into a great 'product'. I believe that to 'skimp' on the product (as Job's describes), simply means to cut corners or neglect the detail. However, the points of detail that we neglect and the corners that we cut, are often the very things that distinguish us from others and make our 'product' both marketable and desirable.


So what do we do about it? I think the answer is simple: 'focus on the product'. Focusing on the product does not necessarily mean doing more of the same (although it might, if you have been significantly off your game). Rather, it is more likely to mean that you should spend time developing your brand competitiveness. As a case in point, if you are looking to trade in the leadership market, then offer a distinctive leadership 'product' or brand. To do this you will need to develop leadership insights and experience that are uncommon, dynamic and agenda setting. Alternatively, you may already have a profitable 'product' on paper, but may simply lack the skills to market yourself profitably in practice. For you, focusing on the product might simply mean getting your product pitch right or finding the most profitable markets to profile yourself in.


To conclude therefore, don't focus on making profit, focus on making great product and don't just focus on making the right product, focus on making the product right.

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