Positioning Your Value

In which we think about how to position our value compared with our competitors on and off the Web. I've just returned safely and happily from a business trip. Booked it myself on line. Plane. Car. Hotels. Meals. Click, click, e-ticket, done. Three years ago, I would have called my travel agent. Not so much any more, for me and millions of others.

In the UK, for example, the number of people booking their package holidays directly through travel agents has declined by 20% over the last 6 years. Why? They don’t sell products better than the Internet.

In industries ranging from banking to cars to travel, many sales people don’t sell products better than the Internet and their jobs are disappearing. Yours, too, possibly. Your employer will employ you only if the value you generate (measured in client purchases from you) exceeds the cost of employing you. So, what is the value you generate? And, how can you express it?

Midst all of this, a letter to the editor in our local community newspaper:

“A recent trip by [my daughter] has me rethinking the …Internet…[H]er flight was cancelled…she was unable to retrieve her checked suitcase…so there she stood at the airport without the ability to get her suitcase, or any plan to get home. We were stuck….I thought I’d take a chance and call a professional. I called XXX Travel and Angela picked up the phone on the first ring…she immediately went to work handling every detail…anticipated problems and solved them before they cropped up…The story ended up well…”

That sounds like an incremental value to me. So, if you’re Angela, how do you describe and position your value with existing and prospective customers who are prone to purchase cheaper tickets on the Web?

We could probably suggest a number of ways to her, including “buy from me, your kid gets home,” or “I book mega trips” – multiple carriers and destinations, not easy or convenient to buy on line.

Those are the values. How should she say them? We’ve suggested multiple formats for personal positioning in this column over the years. Picking one…”Your kids travel? Do you worry – flights cancel, bags lost, and you can’t reach airports or airlines to help them? That’s what I do – I help families when kids travel. I make sure they get home safe.”

So, that’s one of Angela’s positionings. What’s yours? How do you provide and sell value better than the Internet? Better than your buddies at your company? Better than your competitors at other firms? And, how will you express that to prospective customers and clients?

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