Are Your Customers Finding You Dispensable?

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I just got off the phone with a colleague who was complaining (whining, really) about the fact that nobody seemed to have any money to hire him. It’s the economy, of course. A few years ago, people had money, and he was being hired. Now, it’s dried up. Damn this economy!

To a certain extent, he’s right—things were easier a few years ago. But he was wrong when he said that nobody has any money. Because here’s the truth:

There’s always money for something that’s indispensable.

In 1968, the Beatles’ White Album came out. I wanted it. I wanted it more than anything. But there was one huge problem: the double album cost a whopping eleven dollars! I was only eleven years old at the time, and that price—a dollar per year of my existence—was far more than I owned. (I’m doing better now. I’m 52 years old, and have well over 52 dollars, thank you very much.) But to me that album was indispensable. I simply had to have it. So I worked for it. I shoveled driveways (the album came out in November, after all!), I walked dogs, I delivered newspapers. I did what I had to in order to get that album. And I got it.

When something is truly indispensable, we’ll find the money. If your product or service is really, truly indispensable, your clients and customers will find the money. Even in a down economy, there is money out there.

What my colleague has failed to do is to make himself indispensable. When times are good and the money is flowing, then yes, he gets hired. But when things tighten up, clients, customers, and businesses cut down on, or eliminate, the things that are merely “nice.” But they still spend on what’s essential.

So how about you? Are you truly indispensable? If your product or service were to go away, would your customers panic and beg you to return? Or would it just be a minor inconvenience? Or, worse yet, would they even notice?

I just got back from a speaking engagement in Maui. (Tough life, I know!) I was at a beautiful resort in Ka’anapali, right on the beach. Now, I was being paid to be there, and the client was picking up my hotel bill as well. But there were plenty of other people there. Perhaps not as many as there were a few years ago, but there were plenty of people there—and this place wasn’t cheap!

Folks, there is still money out there! If you’re not getting your share, then it means your customers can live without you. That’s your fault, not theirs.

Take a good look at your business. Look at your products and/or services. Are they indispensable? If not, how can you make them so? How can you add so much value that your product or service becomes the equivalent of the Beatles White Album? How can you make yourself so vital, so essential, that your customers will go out and shovel snow (metaphorically speaking) in order to be able to afford you?

Because there’s always money for something that’s indispensable.


About the Author:

29-time Emmy Award winner and Hall of Fame keynote speaker Bill Stainton, CSP is an expert on Innovation, Creativity, and Breakthrough Thinking. He helps leaders and their teams come up with innovative solutions — on demand — to their most challenging problems.
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