To be on a continuous path toward success, you need to differentiate yourself. You need to stand out. If you enter a retail store or business office and the person who greets you gives you a smile and hello, that is great. It is not really a value-add—it is an expectation. To be successful, we need to go beyond the traditional expectations. We need to provide something that truly differentiates us.
1. I was chatting about this with some industry folks before Christmas and we brainstormed. Here are some pretty cool ideas that won’t cost you an arm and a leg, but will provide huge value!One person pointed out the back of my business card is blank other than the word “notes.” He said it reminds people that they can use this space to make notes. At the same time, someone noted my out-of-office reply is helpful, so people know where I am or when I am coming to their market. These are small things, but I get a ton of comments on them.
2. Another person commented how, when he and his kids were staying at a hotel recently, and after day one housekeeping started making swans and other animals out of towels and placing them on the bed. Once they knew there were children in the room, they went the extra mile to make them smile. I will remember that (though my daughter is now 14 and I’m not sure she will appreciate it) when I am booking a hotel in Lake Louise. Remember, Lake Louise Inn (and no, we are not talking Fairmont Chateau Lake Louse or another high-end hotel).
3. When I stay at the Toronto Airport Holiday Inn, Leduc Holiday Inn, or Holiday Inn Express near the Edmonton airport (where there are train tracks nearby), they have complimentary ear plugs next to the bed.
4. One person mentioned he went into a local independent shoe repair while he was away on business and they told him his shoe would take about 30 minutes to fix. They gave him a coupon good for a coffee and muffin at the independent coffee shop across the street. (He had two pair of shoes on the trip. I asked if he hobbled over in his socks and I was corrected!). The cobbler suggested he go have a coffee and muffin, and read the paper. When he was done, his shoe repair would be complete as well.
5. For charities (many do this already), make thank-you calls—personal telephone thank-you calls once a donation has been received no matter the size of the gift. Have volunteers or recipients of the organization’s services make the calls. They cost you nothing and are REALLY effective.
6, As above, personal handwritten thank-you notes. I get 10-15 of these a year from people whom I have agreed to meet with for coffee and helped them with their business ideas, job searches, or business planning.
7. The one I brought up personally is what you are reading. I publish this Tuesday Morning Commentary (TMC) weekly. It is distributed to my email database (by sign-up) as well as through Twitter and LinkedIn. Between writing, editing, posting, scheduling, and follow up, each TMC requires about 2.5 to 3 hours of time. But it is well invested. I hope you enjoy reading it. I know I enjoy writing it. And at events, conferences, and such, I get more people talking to me about the TMC and how they read i/use/share it than anything else. A great value-add for you and great branding for me!
Tell me what you think you can or already do as value-add that differentiates you from your competition.
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