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For customer attraction & retention, add value and another point of entry

Eight years ago, while providing community relations and public relations support for a Boston Market in River Forest that was the pilot for a healthier-dining menu, I learned an important marketing principle from my boss.

If you’re struggling to draw the customer traffic you want, but believe in your product or service’s value, don’t slash prices here, there and everywhere. That just undermines the integrity of your price point, David Friedman counseled.

Instead, hold the line on your price points and find more sustainable ways to attract customers. One part of that equation is to select strategic moments when you give some of your product away.

Friedman was hardly a newcomer to the business scene. So while the Boston Market pilot didn’t pan out, Friedman has gone on to great success as founder of Epic Burger, which in six years has grown to seven locations, six in Chicago.

I heeded his words, not only during my time working on behalf of Boston Market, but in my own business and in counseling clients. Two of the strategies that have been an outgrowth of that lesson:

Don't Drop Price, Add Value

You can take steps that represent some modest level of effort, and which may still be substantive enough to please the customer so you can maintain your fee. That's a strategic decision, and only you can determine the "right" amount of above-and-beyond measures that you are willing to give.

In any business transaction, providing stellar service is worth the effort you exert, many times over, when it results in a rock-solid loyalty that is immune to competitors' efforts to lure away your customer. The lifetime value of a customer is virtually boundless, particularly when that individual or organization becomes a referral agent resulting in additional customers.

For example, Amway Founders Crown Ambassadors Leonard and Esther Kim emerged from what was for many years a retail customer in an organization led by Founders Crowns Ron and Georgia Lee Puryear, who founded World Wide Group, an organization that helps train and develop Amway Independent Business Owners.

If you're a publicist, adding value may be as simple as expanding your social media outreach activity on behalf of a client. If you own a floral shop, you could toss in a piece of fine chocolate with each delivery. And if you network with a local chocolate shop, buy theirs--perhaps at a bulk discount--and explore how they can help market your flowers to their customers.

Create an Additional 'Point of Entry'

The more proficient you get in your work, the higher you can raise your fee. And the larger your fee, smaller is the number of people or organizations who can afford your services. By definition, there is a limited supply of elite professionals in any given field. That creates a greater demand—and compensation—for those who are at the top of the heap.

What about that growing pool of people who recognize the value of your service or product, but cannot foot the bill that comes with it? Is there a way to include them at some level--to give them an additional "point of entry"?

This is where “sample size” experiences might be a fit. And if you can turn it into a marketing opportunity, all the better. One way is to hold an educational workshop where you convey basic principles that don’t “give away the store,” but which demonstrate your expertise and win new fans who, in turn, are apt to talk positively about you to others.

And among those “others” are some who can afford to hire you. After all, any business interaction we have isn’t confined to the people with whom we interact—it extends to all of their respective networks.

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