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May 24, 2018

Sales and Marketing Advice for Florida business

Your clients expect value - here's how to deliver it

Ron Stein | 12/1/2013

When deliberating on a case before him at the Supreme Court, Justice Potter Stewart was stuck on how to describe a particular sticky legal question regarding community attitudes. His famous quote, “I know it when I see it” recognized that how we as individuals perceive things is very important.

What’s this have to do with marketing your product or service?

Retailers mark up their product just so they can discount them big time -- they know that the perception of giving us a deal is, well, a big deal. Some people know that’s what going on, yet they love the ideal of getting a “big” break on the price a purchase.

But then there are a lot of people like my wife who totally ignore a big markdown at the store. No, she doesn’t spend wildly. Just the opposite. Her feeling is that she knows what something is worth and it doesn’t matter what the price is. A dress could be marked 75% off, let’s say down to $55. But, she won’t buy that particular item at anything above $30. That’s her value perception threshold.

And for the others who paid $55, did they pay too much? No, because it met their needs and that’s all that counts. Their value perception threshold has been satisfied.

Your prospects will buy from the company that they see as offering the highest perceived value. It’s an evaluation that weighs the difference between all of the potential benefits and the true cost of acquiring the product or service.

There’s no easy answer to how your prospects perceive the value of your offering. Every company and its marketplace are different. There’s no simple scorecard and list of elements to check off.

It could be based on support, reliability, pricing, durability, performance, resale value, delivery, training, maintenance, knowledgeable and responsive personnel, warranty, company image, time, energy, total customer cost - or just the color. It might be two of these elements, five, or something else entirely.

It’s totally up to you to figure out what’s important to your audience.

Market to value expectations, not to your value proposition. Never assume you know what’s best for the people who might use your product or service. Even as an “expert” in your field, it’s important to take the time to learn what prospective customers see as adding value. The only way to know what your audience will place value on is by asking. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you know what the customer is looking for.

Just ask, listen, and ask some more. There are two parts to this. One is surveying existing customers and potential buyers to discover what they value. As simple as it sounds, most companies never do this or do it half-heartedly. The other part to asking may be the most important way to learn about perceived values -- let the customer guide you to what they’re looking for during the marketing and selling process. Ask questions, really listen, and then ask follow-up questions. This will help you zero in what’s important and has a wonderful side benefit; a relationship is established and trust begins to build. This is how people open up and tell you exactly what they’re looking for.

Maximize the value of customer feedback. Asking great questions and listening is an essential part of determining what your target audience’s perceived values are. But now what? Find out how people rate the value you deliver compared to the competition. Make sure your business is aligned with what you discover. Decide what improvements you will deliver that offer the greatest value to customers and then adjust your value proposition to reflect that. Communicate your value by educating the market on exactly how you provide greater value than the competition.

Adding value is a waste if your target audience fails to see it as valuable. The measure of value is determined by how the prospect perceives your offer.

You’ll have an edge when you realize that buyers give more weight to their personal preferences and to their advantage than to the company’s benefit.

How will you know what your customers perceived value is relative to your offering? Just ask -- they’ll know it when they see it.

Ron Stein is President of FastPath Marketing ( He works with small business owners, helping them to energize their marketing and sell more of their products and services. Ron has developed his own highly successful 7-step approach to winning new customers as a result of his experience as a small business owner, corporate CEO, marketing and business development executive, salesman, and mentor at two nationally recognized business accelerators. Ron offers one-on-one and small group mentoring, conducts seminars, and consults. He can be reached at 727-398-1855 or


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