In today’s world of increasing competition, it is more important than ever to position your products and/or services in a way that makes customers perceive them as different, better and more valuable. I call this WOW-factor positioning. I use this term because providing something as part of the customer experience that is pleasantly surprising and unexpected makes customers say, WOW!
Hinges are small. Doors are large. However, doors swing on hinges. So it is with customer decisions. These wow-factors don’t have to be anything huge. They do have to provide unexpected value and differ from what your competitors are doing.
So, how do you figure out what to do in order to provide this wow-factor customer experience? Use your imagination!
For many people, that’s easier said than done. All human beings develop habitual ways of thinking and this becomes our auto-pilot. The imagination stimulation game below will help you disengage that auto-pilot so you can break through to new levels of thinking. It will help you see the invisible, so you can do the impossible.
Work Can Be Play
The anchor-term method of innovative/creative thinking is simple, yet very productive. It’s one that we utilize in our Training FUNshops and which I use in my consulting work to create breakthrough ideas for differentiation strategies.
Other than a whiteboard and note pads, the only things you need for this to work well is adequate space, open minds and an atmosphere of fun. Keep in mind, this works best when you include a diverse group of people. Just as it takes many ingredients to create a gourmet meal, different perspectives and experience help create ideas that aren’t simply the same dish, warmed over.
- Decide what you are looking for new solutions to or ideas for. Choose an anchor term that readily represents this. Write the anchor term at the top of the whiteboard. For example: You’re in the retail automobile sales business and want to make your dealership stand out. Use Car Sales as your anchor term.
- Ask each person to write down the first noun that comes to mind. From these make a list of ten nouns on the white board. Don’t worry if they seem to have nothing to do with the anchor-term. Random connections stimulate different thinking and often generate the best ideas.
- Have each person in the room mentally combine each noun with the anchor-term. Give them a time limit of three minutes and have each person write down any ideas that occur to them through the combining process.
- At the end of the three-minute idea creation period, have each person talk about their idea, how it works and the benefits of it to the customer and company.
- Allow the group to build on the basic idea and massage it into something even better. Then, vote on a winning idea.
Make It a Game: It creates more fun and inspires better ideas if you divide up into teams and run this as a friendly competition. Have a panel of judges or the teams who are not competing in that round act as ‘customers’ and decide which of the competing ideas they like better.
If you do make this a competition, be sure to have some sort of incentive for the winners. In addition to the bragging rights, this will make people want to participate fully.
Note: Ideas are fleeting. I strongly recommend that you record audio of each idea and the discussion of it. This makes them easy to review and ensures that nothing important gets forgotten. The other advantage of doing this is, when the audio is reviewed later, ways to improve the ideas and perhaps how to effectively and efficiently implement them will be seen.
Be Aware: You might find yourself inundated with creative ideas. That’s a good problem! Sort through them and choose the ones that have the most merit. But, save the rest for later review.
The Anchor-Term method will help you stay one step ahead of the competition by utilizing the knowledge, experience and imagination of your team to create wow-factor ideas and strategies. Employing this method will help you swing open those previously inaccessible doors.
An Example From Our Files to Inspire You
Company: Car Dealer
Objective: The company is looking to increase sales and margins. In order to do this, they are aware of the need to stand out as different, better and more valuable in a crowded marketplace.
Process: The anchor-term Car Sales was combined with the word Amusement. The resulting strategy is below.
The dealer works with a professional caricature artist to provide each customer with a color caricature art of them with the car they are buying. Naturally, the dealership sign is in each piece of art.
The customer gets the original and a high-quality digital copy. A color copy is made to hang on the dealership wall.
Benefits of This Strategy:
- The artwork adds high perceived value to the purchaser and greatly enhances their overall experience. Since most customers will hang the art up in their home or office, it becomes a topic of conversation – and referrals.
- Because of the customer’s value perception, the dealer will sell most vehicles for a higher net profit than they otherwise would have without this ‘caricaturization’ program. This far outweighs the cost of the caricature art and produces improved margins.
- Potential customers see the caricature art displayed on the dealership’s walls. When they learn that every purchaser gets one, they want one. It stokes their desire and increases their estimation of the value of buying from that dealership.
- Overwhelmingly, people share (brag) on social media when they get a new vehicle. The digital copy of the caricature art gives them a unique and cool way of doing that. The dealership can also feature the digital copy on their social media pages. Doing so provides social currency to the customer, sparks conversations and generates referrals.
- Because of increased referral-based sales, less money as a percentage of revenue can be spent on advertising while still producing the same or better results. This means an additional boost to profitability.
- The caricature art is given to the customer several days after they take delivery of the vehicle. This provides an additional touch with the customer and creates a natural opportunity to ask for referrals.
Though there is a cost to the dealer up front to provide these caricature pieces to the customer, the ROI is exceptional.
About the Author
Bob Sager is the founder of SpearPoint Solutions. His professional background includes over three decades of experience in sales, leadership and training. He uses that experience and innovative thinking to develop business strategies that help organizations get unstuck. He also facilitates training on methods of thinking more creatively that can help any business or nonprofit thrive in the today’s economy. Among other accomplishments, Bob is the inventor of the innovative/creative ideas game, What’s the BIG Idea?™, author of the personal achievement book, Discovering Your Greatness and the book of innovative strategies and how to create them, 101 Freaking Brilliant Business Ideas: And Ten Ways YOU Can Create Your Own. Bob can be contacted on LinkedIn.