There are certain timeless principles in business.

Some of the best marketing advice has been written 100 years ago and you can learn a lot from studying this classic material.

A great example is Obvious Adams which was first published in the Saturday Evening Post in April 1916.

Written by Robert R. Updegraff it’s the story of an Advertising Man who became a legend by, you guessed it… coming up with “obvious” solutions.

I first read the story many years ago and it’s formed the basis of much of my thinking around how to successfully market and run a business.

Here’s one of Obvious Adam’s lessons.

Think from your customer’s point of view.

What is it they want? What will make them choose you over your competition? Explain things from their point of view, not yours.

A classic mistake businesses make is glossing over how they produce their results. They talk about “quality”, “reliability”, “freshness” etc., which are frankly, motherhood statements.

A great way to differentiate yourself is to explain the value you provide. How you get your results and what they mean in real terms for your clients.

Businesses assume their customers know all this. But they don’t. And won’t – unless you tell them. What’s obvious to you because you do it day in and day out is not obvious to them.

Milwaukee based Schlitz was one of world’s largest brewers for decades thanks to their explaining the process by which they made beer.

Frankly, the fundamentals of brewing are the same for every manufacturer.   However, Schlitz told their patrons…

“We Double the Cost of Our Brewing to Give You Pure Beer. We spend a fortune on cleanliness. We wash every bottle 4 times, clean every tub, boiling vat, pipe and pump every time we use it…”

The ad goes on explaining how the beer is filtered, fermented, bottled and inspected. And that you don’t pay any extra for all this attention to detail.

Quality is not an abstract concept. Schlitz took great pains to explain what quality meant in terms their drinkers would find important and relate to.

Schlitz was smart enough to understand who they were advertising to. Many organisations would have thought, “Well this is obvious – every brewer does this”. And many of their competitors may well have laughed at their ads.

But at the same time none of their competitors followed their lead. And even if they had done, Schlitz was first – which is an unbeatable advantage.

This principle can apply to any industry. We encourage every client to go down this path.

Here’s an example from a client in the construction industry.

They have two types of prospects. Architects who recommend them and end clients who commission the projects.

When we started together they believed price was a big factor in winning or losing a job. We set out to prove otherwise.

People buy based on perceived value. Will I get value for the money I spend? And the best way of figuring out what value you provide is to ask your clients.

By extensively interviewing their clients we found their buying criteria hinged on three things.

Quality, Cost and Time. Everything else was superfluous.

No one bought on price alone and most avoided lowest price vendors knowing they’d get stung later on.

Armed with this knowledge straight from the horse’s mouth we created marketing material that explained exactly how the organisation ensured each of those criteria were met in nitty gritty detail. We used examples of past projects in the same vein to illustrate the point.

But it doesn’t stop there. Knowing what your clients are looking for means you can quickly and effectively close more business (sell) by tailoring solutions to their exact requirements.

However many businesses operate on two assumptions that are often never tested and end up costing them dearly.

The first is assuming their clients know and fully understand the value they get for their money. The second is assuming what they believe is valuable to their clients is actually the case.

Having worked with businesses in 37 industries ranging from single person operations to multi-nationals, I can tell you many are completely wrong on both counts.

What you think you’re doing for your clients and what they truly value can be poles apart. And if that’s the case you spend more and more effort and money promoting aspects which don’t advance sales, rather than spending your effort in areas which will.

Maybe that’s the case in your business?

There’s only one way to find out for sure. Ask your clients. Or better yet, get us to do it for you. As expert, completely independent interviewers your clients will tell us the truth and give you insights as to where you can improve and sell more.

Using our fresh eyes on your business will also help you find “obvious” business improvement solutions you may have missed because you’re too close and mired in the day to day activities.

Interested? Call us on (02) 9499-7958 for more information.

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