An Alpha’s New Year’s Resolution
While most company owners/managers are resolving to increase their business next year by increasing “value” and/or “quality,” an Alpha is resolving to banish those two words from its vocabulary.
You can bet that Steve Jobs is not whipping his team at Apple to create more value or quality. No, he is entreating them to discover what people really want to buy and how they can provide that in a way that will make new customers pay almost anything to get it.
What’s wrong with “Value” or “Quality?” Just about everything that makes a company capable of dominating its markets and becoming an Alpha (or even gaining some of the benefits of being an aspiring Alpha).
“Value” is undefinable in useful terms. It is fine in concept as a final outcome that can be recognized in a product’s sales. But do you or your employees know what it really means to customers in your industry who are evaluating your products? Can you or your employees define “value” from your customers’ perspective that doesn’t include the word “price?” The problem is that “value” in its traditional definition means far too many different things to far too many people. And the rule is: If you can’t precisely define what it is, you can’t hope to create it.
“Quality” on the other hand means nothing, if it is not what a customer wants to buy; and in most industries quality has not proven itself to be the critical factor people wish to buy. Even more devastating is the fact that the pursuit of quality is a process that limits variance or change. Typically this is applied in the manufacturing process, but it is all too often carried over into the “value-creation” process, as well. The result is that predictability and efficiency become more important than the flexibility and creation of greater potential that has to be at the core of every Alpha company (or company that desires to become an Alpha).
So, what’s the alternative to using the word “value?” Start focusing upon discovering and defining what people wish they could be buying. The best way to discover that is by understanding what experience people wish they could have, when they buy and use products sold in your category. People don’t buy products for the product’s sake, except in survival situations. And they REALLY don’t buy “price” (no matter what you have heard throughout your life). They buy an anticipated experience and a set of internalized feelings about themselves. The product is only the functional conduit that can deliver that experience or set of feelings. (If you are new to the Alpha model concept, then you need to read The Alpha Factor in order to understand how these are the core elements of innovation that drive predictable, self-sustaining growth.)
Turning “quality” into “growth potential” also requires changing your perception of how customers buy. Limiting variance is fine in manufacturing, but customers don’t like limitations or lack of change. The marketplace thrives and feeds itself upon change… in products, attitudes, perceived needs, and behaviors. The company that locks itself into limiting change in its approach to the marketplace is dead before its starts.
The Alpha company (or the aspiring Alpha) focuses upon understanding the core experiences and feelings customers desire and then drives change that constantly focuses potential customers on the next change. When Apple introduces a new product, it only feeds the desire to know what the next new product might be. When MacDonald’s introduces a new menu item, customers try to guess what the new trend being set is and what might be next. What makes these work is that customers recognize a logic behind each new introduction that is a continuance of the constant striving toward delivering better and better experiences and self-feelings. The Alpha “owns” this process, while competitors can only copy or try weakly to compete against it.
Make your New Year’s resolution now.
Drop the word “value” from your company’s vocabulary. Instead, start discovering what people wish they could be buying (in terms of experience and feelings about themselves). Then discover how you can fulfill those desires with the “things” you offer in the marketplace. The result will be far greater “value” perception that can demand much higher prices for longer periods of time with greater control over competitors.
Drop the word “quality” from your concept of innovation. Focus upon driving change Create a process for constantly delivering the next logical step in fulfilling the experiences and self-feelings your potential customers want. The result will be an increase in your control over the market and greater profit than you could ever have expected before.
My wish for you is that 2010 will be the most profitable year you have ever had.
Want to learn more about how you can apply the Alpha model to your company, so you can create more profitable, more dominating innovation? You can get in touch with me either through the website at www.thealphafactor.com or by emailing me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would be happy to talk with you further about how you can make yourself into an Alpha and sustainably grow your profits and sales.