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Small Business Advice

Aligning Business Objectives with Customer Values

When my wife and I want to go to the movies, we always go the the “cheap theatre,” you know, the one where the “new” movies are at least a month old. Our local discount theatre, as I assume many theatres do, have a different pricing strategy depending on the time we go to see the movie. If we go before 7pm, it’s $1 per person and if we go after 7pm, it’s $2.50 per person (again, I know we’re cheapskates). Additionally, tickets are $1 all day on Tuesdays. Why does my theatre do this? My guess is that they typically have more visitors in the evening and that they have the fewest visitors of the week on Tuesdays. Every empty seat in the theatre is a lost opportunity to sell some popcorn. If they aren’t filling the seats, they aren’t using their capital to its fullest extent. Customers, obviously, want to see movies at the lowest possible prices. Giving them a discount plays into their values and incentivizes them to help meet the theatre’s business objectives.

Go for the Win-Win

Planet Fitness, the gym I just joined, has an even more interesting way of aligning its objectives with the objectives of its customers. When I joined, they handed me a chart (pictured above), revealing the times of peak traffic in the gym. The title of this chart is “How to Avoid the Crowds.” Of course, the obvious benefit for me as a member is that, if I do not go during peak times, it is more likely that I will be able to find available equipment. The benefit for Planet Fitness is the same as that of the theatre discussed above. For every treadmill, elliptical machine, etc. that isn’t being used, Planet Fitness is losing money on its investment. So, I go when it isn’t busy and they make money. Win-win. Objectives aligned.

This idea isn’t new or uncommon. It manifests itself in discounts for bulk orders, in distribution of in-store coupons, in free wi-fi, in drive-thrus, and these things are just off the top of my head. Each of these fills a customer need while simulatenously meeting a business objective. Aligning objectives is the basis of selling, period. When you sell a benefit of your product or service, you are trying to convince a potential customer that the benefit is worth the money. You are trying to meet a business objective by aligning it with a customer’s values.

All too often, small business leaders focus too much on how to make a profit. That’s the wrong question. The right question is how to satisfy a customer’s needs. Your need for revenue is self-evident. Look instead for opportunities to fill a customer’s need for a better life (B2C) or more profitable business (B2B), and you’ll have all the revenue you need.

Do you know what your customers want? How are you helping them get it?

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About Douglas E Rice

Douglas E Rice is just a guy who likes to learn stuff.

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