Keep It Real, Perceived Value Matters

by Eric Tsai

As economy continues to deteriorate, brands across the board continues to suffer from retail to wholesale. Confirmed by today’s weaker than expected retail sales data “purchases fell 1.1 percent, with declines from car dealers to electronics stores and restaurants,” according to Bloomberg. Nobody is immune in this economy, not even Google or Apple.

Whether you own your own business or run the marketing department, it’s time to do a reality check.  Consumers and businesses alike are pulling back, looking hard and close at their spending habits while corporations reevaluate costs and business relationships. What was offered previously may no longer be perceived with the same value, perceptions change not to mention value itself is highly subjective.

During times like this, perceived value evolves rapidly, the demand for ‘needs’ are greater than ‘wants.’

You must deliver beyond being essential and unique, you need to provide optimal value of doing business with your brand.  You must have an edge and knowing your perceived value to your customers will be more relevant now than ever.

You have to know what your customers think of you rather than what you believe what they know.  If there is a disconnect between perception and reality, it will shift your value regardless of what you believe is the truth.  We were all shocked to find out the Bear Stern collapse, the AIG failure, and GM bankruptcy.  Why? Because we “thought” one way and the reality blows the other.


Know Where you Stand

First, you must identify both the positives and negatives of your business.  Then start building a strategy to fill in the missing pieces to eliminate negatives while adding positives.  The bigger overall picture is the one that matters the most, stick with your strengths and address your weaknesses. For example, if you’re the best person to develop your product, then perhaps you should focus on product development and create a plan to bring on sales and marketing resources to help you grow demand.  If you’re the salesperson for your company but lack resources in marketing then you should work on getting help with marketing to align with your sales pitch and overall messages.

Nobody is going to be good in everything, but one can certainly be good in a few things, why not stick to what you’re great at so you can bring the most value to your business.  In addition, people are usually happier doing things they are good at so be realistic will pay off at the end with a more sustainable path in building business value.  When you’re able to position your perceived value higher in the stack, you will find your business value elevate at the same time.  You will be able to forge a stronger relationship with your customers as a touchable, personable company – a real brand.



Deliver Value that People Understand

The idea of ‘keep it real’ is to stack up the values you offer by meeting the needs of your customer then deliver differentiation punch, and make sure they get it. It does you no good if your customers can not understand how much value they are getting, then you’ll be perceived as average at best.  Make sure your message is clear and easy to understand with as little resistance as possible, leading them to a path of high perceived value.

Value changes over time, even if you start at the lower level of the stack you can still get to the top, but you must know where you stand from the perspective of your customers and competitors.  In the current recession what matters the most are necessities then discretion, so a solid value foundation will allow you to compete at a higher level.  Once you’re able to compete at a high level you will become an investment and a strategic asset to your customers. That’s as close as you’ll get in making the sales.

Further Reading

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