Saturday, March 21, 2009

Is Your Product Offering Like a Cold Cup of Coffee?

I would like to introduce, another guest poster, Ken Stewart, from ChangeForge. Ken has a keen eye for customer relationships, business process, sales, from both the "copier" and "IT" perspective.

I am honored to have his work posted here.


It's Monday morning and you are rounding out your morning routine by getting into the office, powering up the ole' laptop, and deciding by royal proclamation, "It's time for coffee." You make your way down the hall and pass a few offices as you waive to some of your co-workers.

You make your way into the company break room and smell that wonderfully cheap smell of the corporate coffee. Not Starbucks' or Seattle's Best, but it's free, right?

You pour a slow cup while idly conversing with another corporate suit about the weekend happenings, all the while deciding which flavor of the Coffee-Mate you want to gamble on making this steely brew drinkable today.

You walk back to your office, cup in hand, and get pulled into 1 or 2 ad hoc and impromptu meetings someone just had to have you weigh in on. It might have been the Sunday's game or that latest promotion (can you believe it?), all serving to slow you return to your now-ready computer.

Sitting in your chair, place your coffee cup on your desk, and saddle up to read the morning volley of e-mail exchanges over the weekend. Suddenly, the boss needs to speak with you, steps in and closes the door (you know this is going to be a ride).

Thirty minutes later, your boss stands, shakes your hand and leaves to go on with his day. Now that you have put his mind at ease that everything is under control, you reach for your coffee, pull it to your lips, and find it cold and lifeless.

"Blehhh!", you think. "Cold corporate coffee is worthless."
So you hike back to the break room and with a flick of the wrist, wash the foul brew down the drain - only to return to the same pot to pour another cup.

Notice a few things here:
  1. The coffee is part of the routine.

  2. It needs a lot of help to perform as expected.

  3. There is no price, thus no value.

  4. There is no thought in simply discarding it should it not meet expectations.
Much like the corporate coffee, you have positioned your product to carry no intrinsic value. Have you instead all but given it away and continue to pander to your customers whims while not seeking a solution to their problems, nor empathizing with their pain?

Well then, you can expect to carry the same value as the cup of cold corporate coffee I throw away and never drink. I pay roughly $4.50 for a medium-sized latte in most establishments. Crazy or no, the point is I almost always finish the entire cup - hot or cold. Why do you think that is?
  1. The coffee is not part of a routine, but part of a ritual of enjoyment.

  2. It exceeds expectations just about every time.

  3. The price is quite high, and thus it carries a lot of value.

  4. I will work with the Barrista to make right any deficiencies - so I will leave satisfied and with a product I will enjoy.
This is simply food for thought on how you might make your product offerings better than just a cold cup of corporate coffee.

Did you have any?

Ken Stewart’s website, ChangeForge, focuses on the collision between the constantly changing worlds of business and technology in an information-centric world. Ken is always interested in connecting; To discover the many ways you may connect with him, visit him at DandyID.

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