4 Ways to attract customers and clients who pay what you’re worth
BMW. Louis Vuitton. Eric Ripert’s Le Bernardin.
What makes us drool over luxury? Is it pure gluttony, appreciation for quality, or desire for status?
It’s the power of brand strategy. You didn’t know you wanted those things until someone told you you did.
One of my all-time favorite articles, “Great Branding Is Invisible,” says it perfectly:
Expertly executed details, imperceptible to most, should create a sense of magic and wonder. Think of an upmarket German car, such as an Audi, BMW or Mercedes. When you are at the BMW showroom and you step into, say, a 5 Series model, the satisfyingly clean thumpf sound that the door makes as you shut it signifies quality. There’s no rattling, no sound of sheet metal being slammed, just that confidence-inspiring, compact sound.
Yeti: Not just a f**king cooler.
Yeti makes high-end coolers that retail currently for $300-1300. Early on, Yeti learned about one key element of a brand’s success and pushed to make it bigger: a bragging customer.
When someone pays top-dollar for a product they believe in, they often want people to know they have.
Those brand ambassadors drop reviews everywhere. They post pictures on Facebook. They brag and brag.
Plus, their coolers have a story. The technology makes it bear-proof. In fact, they’re virtually indestructible.
“It’s just a fucking cooler,” laughs David Srere, co-CEO and chief strategy officer of the branding and design agency Siegel+Gale, with obvious admiration. (The Yeti Brotherhood, Inc.)
He knows their success goes beyond a great, unique product, and their sales figures back that up.
Their ability to carefully build an authentic, durable brand story is just as important, maybe more so, than the indestructibility of their product.
“What their story is about is not this cooler,” says Srere. “It could have been a zillion things, but they have built their community, their operating philosophy, around their passionate commitment to the outdoors.”
So how do you become the Cartier, Yeti, BMW of your industry? Check out these tips:
1. The price is the price. Period.
If you dine at Eleven Madison Park—hell, if you eat at Applebee’s—you don’t haggle over the price of a dish on the menu.
Yet somehow entrepreneurs get into abusive situations with clients where they agree to do a project or sell something for far less, then suffer.
If someone says, “I can get that for half the price elsewhere” or “If you do it for $2000 less, it’s a deal,” walk away. Don’t compete on price. If you’ve been in business for a while, you’ve figured out what that price needs to be. Negotiating is one thing, but if they want everything you’ve outlined at a cut rate, they don’t value your level of service or the quality of your products, and that type of situation doesn’t get better.
Sometimes, we take these clients on because they promise to refer more business later. Know this: Even if they do bring future leads to your door, they’ll likely be similarly low-hanging.
2. Know what makes you better.
Sure, you can just buy a Swiss-made watch, but with a TAG Heuer, you’re guaranteed quality craftsmanship, longevity, and cutting-edge design and features. The brand is acclaimed for making a better product.
Specify several key factors that differentiate your business from others. Evaluate your brand on a variety of levels:
- how your clients and customers feel about it,
- how it stacks up against your competition, and
- what your goals are.
3. Being “busy” doesn’t mean you’re making it.
You’re only as reputable as the people and businesses you work with, so ensure that whether you’re choosing an employee, a spokesperson, or a client, you feel confident about their commitment to excellence.
I once prioritized volume over high-quality, long-term relationships. I was so grateful to have more work that I didn’t pay much attention to the kind of work I was attracting—until I was deep in it and frustrated. A dozen small-scale, disorganized clients with an immediate need won’t amount to half of one solid, stable client committed to a long-term relationship.
For a long time, I equated that hungry, impatient need to stay busy with diligence and how things had to be if you were “making it.” But today, I realize how important patience is to long-term success—working smarter, not harder.
4. Commit to your vision—hard.
The brands mentioned here have two things in common besides luxury status: longevity and consistency. They have committed to excellence for the long haul. And they actively participate in furthering that cause in every single outreach opportunity.
Luxury brands know that discerning customers not only value that level of attention to detail, they notice when it is lacking. So they’ve made brand strategy a top sales vehicle. Don’t bend to market pressure. Know who you are and be that.
Also from “Great Branding Is Invisible”:
Yes, the big idea is important, but success hinges on its execution, consistency, and attention to each and every word. Do define the brand with succinct messaging, but also trust that consumers will recognize the collective positive attributes of the brand rather than just its tagline. Make sure your communications are well crafted and recognizable. All touch points need to be carefully considered, down to every HTML email campaign.
David Srere likens Yeti’s success to that of a brand we’re all familiar with: Harley-Davidson. Each has built a following, created a movement, and watched sales and brand recognition soar as a result. The Yeti story should be an inspiration to anyone who was ever told: “I can pay one-third that amount to someone else for the exact same thing.” Because you know they can’t.