In 2010 my sister, who runs a small antique and gift shop, decided, in the face of a very difficult economy, to make 2010 the year she sold only very beautiful, expensive products that customers would want because they made them feel happy.For a shop based in a little Yorkshire village, this was a brave move but it has paid off and she has had a record year. When times are difficult it makes sense to look for your USPs but, for most of us, these differentiators aren’t as clear cut as they used to be. So what can you do to ensure a great 2011? Recently a chain of coffee shops in America introduced a disloyalty card. Yes, the concept is surprising, if not a little amazing, as customers will be rewarded for visiting five other coffee shops in the area and then returning with evidence to receive a free cup of coffee. The rational is to encourage customers to appreciate the whole coffee experience and, of course, to share very valuable competitor insights. One of the US’s most successful investment banks contacts its customers three times each day. Wow, amazing – and it certainly creates a differential. So there you go, two very different businesses that are doing something amazing, dare we say unique! Being amazing doesn’t always require a unique approach but it does require the recipient to be surprised. It must require a degree of innovation and it must get your customers, and potential customers, talking about your business. Let’s hope 2011 gives you the opportunity to play a completely new game.
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