You might not think that Neiman Marcus and Walmart are very similar, but they both know exactly what keeps them in business.
Neiman Marcus is high end, high touch and high price. Customer service? They’re the leader. They sell “apparel,” not “clothing.” Of course, you pay for it, and you expect to.
Walmart? Low end, no touch, low price. Customer service? Where? They definitely sell clothing, that prices your local thrift store may not beat.
Walmart does not attempt to match the level of service that Neiman Marcus provides, and Neiman Marcus would hardly consider offering the quality of Walmart clothing. And each makes a lot of money being consistent to its position in the market.
How about you?
As a consultant to nonprofits, are you offering Neiman Marcus service at a Walmart price?
Don’t be embarrassed. A lot of nonprofit consultants do. We fall into the myth that nonprofits are poor, and they can’t “afford” your service. While no organization, business, government or nonprofit can spend as much as they’d like on everything they want, few are so poor that if they really want or need something, they can’t adjust their finances to get it. Or, as a boss of mine used to say “show me your budget and I’ll show you your priorities.”
Sorry to tell you this, but it’s not their fault. You need to adjust your priorities, not them. You need to make it a priority to know your client, their needs, and the importance, to them, of what you offer.
There’s no shame in being Walmart, really. Would you be ashamed to be one of the biggest companies in the world? Clearly, they’ve tuned into a clientèle that appreciates their market position. So has Neiman Marcus, for that matter. Each is smart enough to know what sells shirts, jackets, socks and pants, and there’s no way that either could make money emulating the other.
The lesson here? Know your client, and deliver what they want, in quality, price, and service. Is that what you do?
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