It’s a trap to try and grow your business by being the lowest price service provider, but when you can’t explain the value you add to your clients and prospects price will be all they care about.
Know your value – what you do that helps others and how this sets you apart from everyone else. Show how your English classes will help your clients meet their needs, or solve their problems. Most of the time, your added value will have very little to do with the act of learning/teaching English!
Define and deliver on this value, and you will be able leave price wars with other language providers behind…most of the time.
How to determine value: a basic and very helpful definition of value is simply how you and your service helps people. The more you and your business helps people, the more it will grow, and the more valuable it will become for your clients.
Action Step: Can you define how you help others? See if you can write a few sentences about it. Hint: think deeper than “I help people speak English.” The competition does that. What do YOU do that helps others who engage your services?
Define Your Value from your client’s point of view! This is where you really need to pay attention: Can you remember the last 5 to 10 positive comments you have gotten from your clients? What have they told you they appreciate the most about you and how you serve them? (If you don’t have any comments yet, start asking!) Try saying something like: “I know there are many English teachers or companies out there for you to work with – why do you decide to keep working with me?”
Pay close attention to what they say. This is the value you are delivering to your clients. The answers may surprise you! One of my business’ most frequent comments about why our clients continued working with us was that we always provided personal, friendly, flexible customer service. That’s VALUE from your client’s perspective. It’s valuable because your clients – the people who give you money for what you do, are saying they find it valuable. I think your client’s definition of value is more important than what YOU think your value added service is. What do you think?
Action step: Ask your clients what they value about what you do, and make a list of what they say.
If you are just getting started, and don’t have anyone to ask about what is valuable to them, you can still do some vital homework:
- Find people who are taking English classes – ask them why they are taking the class, and what they value most from the service they are currently using. (Bonus: listen carefully for negative feedback they may give about the service they are currently using. Maybe you can provide a ‘fix’ for this problem in your own service!)
- Read online forums or join online communities of students – see if you can find comments about their most common problems or challenges they face in class. If you listen carefully and patiently, I promise you’ll find valuable information that will help you develop your own value proposition.
Action Step: Look for groups or communities on LinkedIn, G+, Facebook etc where ESL students are hanging out. Join these groups, and listen. (Read comments!) Maybe even consider asking the group questions like: what do you love/hate the most about your English classes? Teacher? Service provider? Take lots of notes!
What Do You Bring? What skills, knowledge, experience do you bring to the table that could be useful to your clients? One of my skills is business coaching. My target market was adult business professionals, and as I got to know my students and their needs, we were almost always able to combine English classes with professional coaching and leadership training. What is weird about this, is at the start I didn’t even know I was doing it. My students started telling me that what we did in class was NOT just English class, but it was helping them to solve problems at work, or helping them to grow professionally. What do you do…and how do you do it that comes uniquely to you?
Action step: list your natural talents or experience. Can this be used in some way to help your students? How?
Over to you: can you explain the value you provide to your clients? Leave a comment, I would love to learn how you are making a difference in the world with your awesome work!