Everything changed once everyone got access to everything they need to make every decision they will ever need to make. Every want, every desire, every unmet need, all of them, can be shaped, defined, decided upon and largely fulfilled on, by every customer, every consumer, every user, at pretty much any time or any place. Welcome to land of commoditization.
You think your value proposition, your technology, your price, your distribution, your breadth or depth of selection affords you a unique position in the marketplace? Okay. Maybe it does. But there are dozens if not hundreds of alternatives that a customer can spend their scarce funding on that will perform either the same function, or deliver a totally different (yet equal in significance to the buyer) financial, emotional, or psychic rate of return to the buyer.
The bottom line is there are more sources of satisfaction than there is money to buy them all. Every decision to purchase, then, is a trade-off, and every satisfied need or want means that a different need or desire will be eventually left unmet. This is true with consumers. It is true with the B2B market.
Why should this matter?
Never forget: you are not only competing with others in your space. You are competing with every alternative use for the money that your product or service is going to use up. That makes every provider that delivers an equivalent, even if completely disassociated, degree of satisfaction eligible to compete with your brand or product for the dollars of your target market. Apple effectively competes with KitchenAid, TaylorMade, Tumi, and BridgestoneFirestone for the disposable income that can be used for either a tablet, or golf clubs, or luggage or new tires. McDonalds goes to battle with iTunes, Bic, and Duracell for my next purchase. Will it be lunch or a pack of razors or a new album on the iPod or some batteries? It won’t be all. Someone is going to be left out.
So who wins when everyone is in some sort of free-for-all for consumer spending? When companies have to choose between new imaging equipment or updating to VOIP or adding server capacity? The answer is probably surprising: the one that makes the deepest emotional connection while balancing the need to be rationalized later. It isn’t always the one with the lowest price. In fact, it rarely is. It isn’t the “category leader”. It isn’t the one with the best sales pitch, or the most reliable service record. All those may be important but none of them will deliver the business unless (until) they resonate in support of the emotional decision to purchase.
First, you win the heart. Then you win the business. Then, you are awarded the head.
Give people something to talk about. Get them talking, on social media, in conversation, any way you can. The more the better. Then make sure that they can feel good about the emotions you have stirred up. Show me how you are going to help me fill an unmet emotional need, and I will look for rational reasons to make the buy. I don’t care if you are selling software, or soft drinks…autos or electric shavers…a room on the beach or a ride in the sky…Visualize, internalize, actualize… That is how people buy. So how are you selling?