The most difficult job in marketing is often trying to
understand the gap, the problem or the pain point of current and new customers.
What is it
that our company could do to serve our customers better and to make a difference in their lives? That is the most challenging question.
When this investigation is done inside the four walls of your
company, you get part of the answer. When you include the customer, you expand
the opportunity to get insight in real time and without doing what marketers loves to do - make things too complicated with the community who will actually use the product or service.
Creating with your customers isn't new. But shifting your business model to include them opens up access to the collaborative economy.
But how you partner
and structure that arrangement is directly linked to your business model. And it can be with a different type of business model that you can build a unique type of engaged
community of customers.
A wonderful model to think about is your local food
coop. The members are engaged and
interested in fresh, local and healthy foods like fruits and vegetables. By
building a membership platform, you shift the dynamic from selling to your
customers to selling WITH your customers.
According to Shane Hughes, In the US
there are more than 8,000 of these businesses in place where risk is shared and
collaboration is valued. Hughes who calls himself a REconomist works for
Transition Network Reconomy and delivered this powerful and insightful Ted
Talk. I'd urge you to watch when you have 18 minutes.
What marketing lessons can you learn from this model?
- Can you flip your market segment on its head by focusing on
the business model versus the product offering? Don't just consider making something new, better, cheaper or faster. Sell it in a different way.
- Is it possible that instead of creating products and selling
them to customers, that you work jointly with customers and networks to develop
a different form of value?
- What if you didn't sell your product to your customers but
they could purchase it close to its cost, but your business earns revenue
through membership fees?
The Giant Membership Model
If you are wondering if this model can be scaled, I have one
word for you. COSTCO.
Costco earns 70% of its profits from membership fees. That
means it earns 70% of its next year’s profits up front. Only 30% of its profits
come from the sale of merchandise. And it is that merchandise that is marked up
about 6-10% that is the value that drives its wild success.
When Life Gives You Lemons
Or, if you are thinking about small scale, imagine a
community of people who have two common interest, low-cost transportation and
an environmentally friendly alternative to fossil fuel. Meet The Lemon Bus
Company in Brighton, England. Instead of paying fares, customers become members of the company. They align their interest in a cleaner economy with a friendly bus service that uses bio diesel fuel that comes from the waste oil of restaurants in the area.
Is this model right
for you or a part of your business? Why not think about a new way of partnering
with customers and creating a community of interest?
I’d love to get your comments on how this might work in
different business segments.
Are you looking for a marketing coach or mentor? You can hire me by the moment - well by the minute through Clarity.fm to consult with your company. Check out the details here.
I donate 100% of my fee to Charity: Water who helps serve communities that need clean water.
Labels: Cooperatives, Costco, marketing, Marketing Moments, Membership Models, Shane Hughes, The Lemon Bus Company