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What Color Are Your Teeth?

Oh my wouldn't believe the difficulty I had choosing a Christmas gift for my Mom. I had chosen her name in our family gift exchange. And I knew she wanted a new Bluetooth wireless headset for your cell phone. The problem was, I don't know anything about them. That is rarely the case with me and technology - but these gizmos have not captured my interest. So I went shopping. To my dismay, nobody else seemed to know anything either. Frankly, I would gladly just buy the best one on the shelf (it's for mom after all) but I couldn't figure out which one was the best. I began by comparing packages - at multiple stores. None of the packaging made any sense. No one package gave me clear, compelling reasons to buy - and unique benefits I would find with that particular model. Instead I got a bunch of technical jargon and esoteric features I didn't understand. How about: better sound quality than model x, longer battery life and brand y, more durable than the previous model. Anything, something. But every model between $50 and $150 seemed exactly the same. Surely there must be some difference. And the store clerks knew less than the package. One clerk told me they were pretty much all the same. So why spend the $150? What's the difference? I was DESPERATE for a buying preference. I wanted some reason to choose one over the other. I have a feeling I wasn't alone this season. It's a common mistake made by big companies. The real danger is when small companies decide to model their sales or marketing techniques after the big companies. It begins to get really bad. When your product or service begins to look like all the others - with no discernable difference - price becomes the only variable. And lowest wins. That's a bad situation to be in. Truth is, you can break out of the price mold by delivering a clear and compelling buying preference. That's all people really want. Sure, people want a good deal - and they think they want a low price. But if you built more value into one choice and rose the price, many people would splurge. People want the best. It's only when there is no perceivable "best" that they resort to price. But too many small business owners fall into the Wal-Mart mentality and try to make price the feature. One of our clients offers an entertainment/dining experience that is one of the most expensive in town. But they make it so unique that you just can't compare them to other restaurants. In 2005 they had 10,000 more guests than in 2004. And this is their 20th year in business. Wowzers!! There has been a new iPod model every 6 months for the past 3 or 4 years. And people keep buying them - even as the price goes up. Why? Because they want the best and the newest. No necessarily the cheapest. You know you can get a decent MP3 play for like $80 from Radio Shack? But they don't sell nearly as well as the iPod. Why? Because iPod's the best and everyone knows it (even if it's not really). They create a unique experience that delivers a compelling a clear preference. Success leaves clues. Are you looking for them?