How do you compete: Are you cheap, smart, or trusted?

 
Why would someone buy your product or services?  Or asked another way, how do you compete?
 
Every organization effectively competes on three dimensions: Price, Expertise, and Trust.  Your strategy is what determines how much of each. 

Price: At the simplest level, you are chosen because you are the cheapest. This isn’t where many of us like to see ourselves, as it is risky: there will always be someone who is willing to shave their price just that much more.

Expertise: Because it takes longer to acquire, expertise has greater staying power than price. There is a strategic advantage to being a guru: it brings value. The problem, though, is that there will always be others who are fresher and sharper than you are.  Or organizations that invest more in their staff.

Trust: Because of your independence and objectivity, others seek you out. You may not know all of the answers, but your recommendations, and perspective, add unique value. You are more than a CEO, accountant, lawyer, manager, or salesperson: you have earned your credibility and trust.

The Price-Expertise-Trust model is even more powerful when you see each element as a tier. Without delivering value (tier one), you may not even be considered. Without delivering expertise (tier two), you will not have the opportunity to develop a trust relationship.  And without trust (tier three), your recommendations will lack credibility and therefore not be implemented. And without implementation, questions will arise about your value – which brings us back to tier one!

THIS WEEK’S ACTION PLAN

Would you (and your organization) prefer to be known as the cheapest, the smartest, or the most trusted? Success actually requires growth in all three dimensions.  Too often, we give lip service to trust, but rarely back it up with time and resources.  This week, honestly assess how your marketing initiatives affect each dimension.  And if you’re not happy with the mix, then make a change.
 
Digital insight:  Too often, the signals we send through digital channels (web, social, email, etc) are so focused on transactions - which often mean price. Or so focused on expertise - which means content.  But very little is focused on trust.  Is that true in your case? Test yourself by pretending to be a client: when they interact with you online, will they see you as cheap, smart, or trusted?  

Personal insight:  As individuals, ironically it is Expertise and Trust that we focus least on, and Price (compensation?) that commands the greatest amount of our personal attention. This week, commit to doing one thing that will improve your expertise, and another that will earn trust.
 
Randall Craig



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