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Your Function is Cost of Entry
You’ve spent most of your life getting really good at what you do. College, maybe graduate school, an internship, entry-level jobs, climbing up the ladder – learning, improving your skills, honing your abilities, sharpening the saw. Now you’re running your own business or movin’ on up to the C-Suite, and you’re on the top of your game. Making the best products, offering the best services.
But at some point, you’re going to get the nagging suspicion that things aren’t quite as good as they seem.
Maybe it’s that deal that didn’t go through.
Maybe it’s that client or customer that wasn’t as happy as they should have been.
Maybe it’s that buyer that went somewhere else.
This lingering doubt is going to swell and swell and swell until it blows up into the 900-pound gorilla in the room. You think about it when you’re at work and you think about when you’re at home. Chances are it’s waking you up at night and you’ve spent some late-night hours staring at the lazy ceiling fan spin slowly in the darkness above your head or watching the red digital numbers flash on the bedside clock.
Here’s the problem in a nutshell: Your product or your service is your function. And your function is cost of entry. What you do is the table stakes that get you in the game. Your product had better be good or no one’s is going to buy it. But just because it is good doesn’t mean they’ll buy it, either.
Computer companies are well known for promoting the digital advantages (called “speeds and feeds” in techno babble jargon) that their consumers neither understand nor care about.
Camera manufacturers, too, fill their product specs with numbers and metrics that don’t matter to the majority of their buyers.
Car companies, electronics suppliers, and manufacturers of every product you can imagine all fill their messaging with details of features and attributes that many of their buyers neither understand nor care about.
And it’s not just hard goods makers that suffer because function is cost of entry.
When was the last time you heard a doctor or lawyer crowing about where they went to school? When was the last time a realtor told you how many agents they employed? When was the last time a moving company bragged about the number of trucks they operate or a restaurant that listed all their locations?
More to the point, when was the last time you cared?
Truth is, you don’t care how many degrees your doctor has; you care if they can make you feel good about your medical issues.
You don’t care where your lawyer went to school; you care if they can help you feel good about your legal troubles.
You don’t care how many agents work for the realty company; you care if they can make you feel good about buying or selling your home.
You don’t care about how many trucks a moving company has; you care if they make you feel good about protecting grandma’s baby grand.
And you don’t care how many restaurants the company manages; you care if they make you feel good about your evening.
Your Function is Cost of Entry
The Folly of Function states that: “The quality of a product’s performance is cost of entry, but it’s not what makes the sale or pleases your customer.”
After all, all companies have to offer some degree of function, or they wouldn’t be in business. But your function is cost of entry. And after the generic requirement of function has been met, it becomes the “What’s in it For Me?”factor that makes the difference, makes the sale, and makes your day.
What this means to you is that it’s time for a sober, gimlet-eyed look at your business’ messaging to make sure you’re not simply listing your features or cataloging your benefits but instead are making a clear and concise argument for how you make your customers’ lives better.
Be sure you’re offering the best product or service out there. Then be sure you’re letting your customers – and potential customers – why it matters to them.