Recently I read a great post by Shep Hyken on how hard it is to create customer loyalty based on price alone. On an intuitive level, we all know the underlying truths of that assertion: If the value that I see in a company or product derives solely from price, as soon as someone offers me a lower price for the same product or service (and there's always someone that will!) that's where I'll be taking my business. On the other hand, we're often willing to pay more for a product when we perceive some value in it aside from price -- it makes us feel special in some way, perhaps, or it has a durability that lets us intuitively extrapolate value over a longer term than short-term pricing alone.
I decided early on with ThreeTwelve that we were simply not going to be the lowest-priced agency around -- not only because there's always someone who will undercut your price, but on the battle to the bottom it's quality that will suffer. Our lifeblood in this agency is the quality of the work we deliver and the quality of the relationships we have with our clients -- and those two things are the true measure of the value that we deliver. Our clients are loyal to us because they perceive that value, and don't -- as Oscar Wilde so aptly put it -- see the price of everything and the value of nothing. It's that kind of value-driven relationship that has driven the growth of both ThreeTwelve and our clients, and I'm proud of the relationships we have and the value we deliver.
In order to achieve that, though, we as an agency have to assign that kind of value to our client relations from top to bottom. It's our culture, and every single member of our agency has to buy into it. To achieve that, our staff have to know that what they say and do and think are all valuable. They have to be empowered. And it's up to me to create that environment for them and give them what they need. It's up to me to let them know that I value them as much as I value my clients.
I do that in a variety of ways, but it starts with hiring good people and paying them as much as I can, and not as little as I can get away with. It involves listening to them. It involves learning from them, because there are many things they know and do better than me.
It involves many things, really, but what it all comes down to is this: With value in, comes values out.