I read about and hear a lot of people talking about adding value to their clients or customers. In fact apart from engaging with “social media” and “innovation”, “adding more value” is probably one of the most talked about business initiatives over the last few years.
But what does it really mean? How do we REALLY add value to our clients or account business?
I have heard many definitions over the years, but for me adding value is providing something to our clients that they could not readily provide themselves. This maybe because they possess neither the financial resources nor expertise themselves, or they may just not have thought about it.
So by providing this value we have the opportunity to enhance their marketing, leverage their advertising, help them crush timelines, and bring innovation or optimize supply chains so that we can help increase their profits and/or reduce their costs.
When I worked on the McDonald’s business for Coca-Cola we were constantly looking for ways to add real value to their business and just as constantly succeeded in doing so. We provided so much value that price discussions were rarely on any agenda.
So how did we do this and how could you and your business add REAL value? Think of the things that you know about your clients business that are really important to them and/or things they are struggling with.
Now consider the things that you have or could provide daily that would help them with that. Here’s an example. In the early 1990’s McDonald’s were looking to expand quickly globally. However, they had very little infrastructure to do that. We, Coca-Cola, on the other hand were already in over 200 countries with offices, sales and distribution well established.
Here was a huge “added value “ opportunity to help McDonald’s fast track globally. How? We established a process to help McDonald’s senior management investigate, visit and prioritize new countries to enter and on many occasions even helped them find the right partners to be franchisees.
We provided in-depth market overviews with our local teams, arranged city tours, and helped them through the key issues and opportunities. We would introduce McDonalds to local contacts both business and political and in some cases help them find suppliers.
When they were getting ready to open the doors, we would help with PR, advertising and the event itself. We became an extension of their organization and in many ways acted like an agency.
Adding value is a key way to raise the level of the business relationship but has to be a concerted effort across the whole organization focused on what is important for the client or customer.
Providing value to our clients can raise the relationship from the status of a business association to a much higher level of partnership.
What are the things that would add REAL value to the relationship with your clients or customers?