“Success in life is the result of good judgment. Good judgment is usually the result of experience. Experience is usually the result of bad judgment.”
— Anthony Robbins
Are You Experienced?
Do you have experience (in your job, profession, career, industry, market, subject matter)? If so, how much experience do you have? Or, in other words, how experienced do you consider yourself? And, how is that measured? Is it in years, success stories, satisfied customers, revenues, failures, or other? Does your company combine years of experience or tout its years of doing business as experience? Most importantly what is the value of experience to your customers? Better yet, what’s the value of your experience to your customers? Do they, or would they pay a premium for that experience?
Experience can be defined (Wikipedia) as “a general concept that comprises knowledge of or skill in observation of some thing or some event gained through involvement in or exposure to that thing or event. The history of the word experience aligns it closely with the concept of experiment. The concept of experience generally refers to know-how or procedural knowledge, rather than propositional knowledge: on-the-job training rather than book-learning.” So, it’s safe to say the ‘more’ we are involved with and exposed to our careers, functions, professions, etc., the ‘more’ experienced we are, or become.
It’s interesting to look at the metrics used to proclaim experience and the value that is perceived by them. For example, “I am a boating Captain of ten years.” Let me rephrase that—“I have held a boating Captain’s license for the past decade” (sounds a bit different than the sentence before it, right?). Despite the fact that a required hour and day minimum of sea service is one (of many) requirements for license renewal and approval, that designation, and in years—even a decade—does not make me an “experienced” Captain. However, it could be perceived as such if it were a tagline below my name. Sure, I love boating and I get out often but I have not conducted a successful business on a boat nor exercised my Captain’s status within that time period (in case you were wondering, no, I have not married anyone at sea either). My point here is that metrics used to designate experience in a marketing context are not always a clear representation of that person or company’s “experience.”
I came across a tagline recently for a company that included “…serving the most satisfied customers for over ten years.” Wow! That’s powerful! So much more than the traditional “Celebrating ten years of doing business” or “Since 1962” or “Twenty-fifth anniversary.” This business actually did something in those ten years—they satisfied customers; a pretty damn good metric to use in my opinion. And, even though a bit ambiguous, they better satisfied their customers than the competition. Cool! I’ll bet you it’s something they can easily prove.
The Value of Experience
Just what is the value of experience? What’s the value of your experience? What’s the value of your experience for your customers? Do your customers understand that value? And, do they/will they pay a premium for it? With attorneys, doctors and most service professionals, it is clearly more obvious that qualified experience commands a premium. In those cases, experience is relative to minimized risk that comes with the decision to choose that “experienced” service professional. However, would a customer pay a premium for an experienced sales person selling a widget because the service is noticeably better and helps the client minimize risk and make better buying decisions? I’d say, “yes.” Even if I, as the buyer, can buy the same widget for less money from a competitor, it may be in my best interest, and save me time and money in the long-run, to pay a little more knowing that the sales person who sold me that widget knows my business and is a partner in helping me make the best decision on how many to order, what is average for the season vs. my competition, when to order and how to optimize my efficiencies. In this example, the value of (your) experience is clearly worth it. Are you communicating this to your customers and do they understand it? Are you hiring “experienced” people within their respective functions?
How to Promote Experience
There are several ways to promote qualified and unique experience to gain or sustain a competitive advantage. The more you personalize experience the more defendable as a unique selling proposition it becomes. Here are some ways you can better promote your experience:
- 1. Case Studies: Use and promote several case studies of how you solved a client’s problem or over-delivered on their expectations. This never gets old and acts as a point of reference that can last indefinitely.
- Tagline: Promote your Experience as a part of your tagline. Spice it up with a descriptive metric. Imagine if “Over 3 Billion Served” was changed to “Satisfying Hungry American Families with Over 3 Billion Served”? – a little verbose but perhaps a bit more powerful and unique than the original…
- Testimonials: Use testimonials to illustrate experience; experience in various settings, with various clients and with varying needs. The more testimonials the better as they show you’ve been involved with or exposed to those situations similar to new customers.
- Brands served: Consider exposing the brands and cache clients you’ve done business with or associate with to show your quality experience and standard of excellence. In other words, “if it’s good enough for them, it should be good enough for me too.” Don’t be afraid to include active association membership, and designations.
- Use Numbers. As in years, number of units sold, revenues, etc. If you are new to your space, promote your experience in number of clients, your history in the market or space, and/or success stores, to name a few.
It’s hard to argue experience from a customer’s point of view. Remember, your customers are likely starved for time, demand the best value and have access to information on alternatives. By selling your experience correctly, you may not only win the business but get paid a premium for it. You are certainly worth it!
About the Author
Angelo Biasi is General Manager of SMART Marketing Solutions, LLC, a leading full-service integrated marketing company in Naples, FL since 2001. He has helped create and execute marketing plans and integrated marketing solutions for companies such as Playtex, Bic, Rogaine, Tauck, and over 35 colleges and universities, to name a few. Angelo has an MBA in Marketing from the University of Connecticut and teaches Marketing at New York University where he has for over five years. For more information or to learn more, email him at abiasismartmarketingllccom (abiasismartmarketingllccom) , visit www.smartmarketingllc.com or call 239.963.9396.