I’m always interested when a story about a product or service that’s differentiated hits the newspapers and, being a man, one of my trigger words, that is virtually guaranteed to attract my attention is naked…
A few weeks ago, a story about a naked housing cleaning service hit the newspapers:
- Telegraph – Wanted, £45-an-hour cleaners – must work naked (and only women may apply)
- Daily Express – Naked girl CLEANS houses for cash: Mother-of-one paid £45 an hour to scrub in the NUDE
- The Sun – NAKED AMBITION Cleaning company offering £45 an hour to women who will work naked are inundated with job applications
- Daily Star – Young mum will clean your house NAKED while you watch
Notice the emphasis on £45 per hour because that’s much more than clothed cleaners get paid.
It seems that the main customers targeted are fairly wealthy naturalists – people who don’t where clothes themselves and don’t like to see other people wearing them either. I suspect they have an offering that’s going to appeal to a few other groups as well, even though it’s definitely not for the mainstream market. Nor will naked business coaching catch on… people would pay me extra to put my clothes back on!
The story in the Daily Express links to a slide show for a naked personal trainer, where she and her customers don’t wear any clothes.
Putting aside moral judgements, there is a lesson here.
What Can You Take Away That Is Taken For Granted To Make A Product Or Service Better For Some Customers?
When you’re thinking about differentiation and customer value, the big temptation is to:
- Make existing things better; or
- To add something extra to the product or service.
This may make it a more attractive proposition to your customers but, almost inevitably, it increases your costs.
A different approach is to take something away that isn’t valued or may even be causing problems.
I’d never thought about a naked cleaning service before I saw these articles. Clothes were a taken for granted issue but, now that it’s been pointed out, you can see how “no clothes” is an added benefit for some clients and cleaners.
Moving away from the smutty…
I love my smartphone and I can’t imagine life without it. I’m well and truly hooked by having this mini-computer in my trouser pocket. Unfortunately the thing that it’s not very good at is making or receiving telephone calls. I receive so few calls that I haven’t mastered how to connect consistently.
These phones were a giant leap up from what had gone before but now it’s getting increasingly hard to differentiate them. A bit better screen, a bit better camera, a bit faster… none of these things add up to much once you get beyond the need to impress your friends by having the very latest equipment.
The big news in the world of mobile phones this week, is the return of the Nokia 3310 that was released in 2000 and sold 126 million units.
- Guardian – The Sad Truth About The Excitement Over The Nokia 3310
- New Stateman – Nokia 3310: what’s the allure of a retro “dumbphone”?
I’m not convinced it’s going to be a success but I can understand the appeal of a simpler life along with the nostalgic links to younger days.
Do you remember the days when you had a video tape recorder and used it to record TV programmes that you’d miss? Programming it was often a nightmare because you had to fiddle your way through setting the channel, the date, the start and ending times and press a couple of other buttons in the right sequence. It became so much easier when VideoPlus was created and all you had to do was to key in a number.
Jumping to software, I was a big fan in the 1980s of Lotus 123 and in the 1990s I moved to Microsoft Excel and the Office suite of programs. The original ideas before spreadsheets, word processing software and presentation software was fantastic but these products have continued to get more complicated. How many of the millions of users will make even occasional use of many of the developments in the last 10 years?
My question for you is…
Have you over-complicated your product or service? Are there features that most customers would regard as a disadvantage rather than an advantage?
If so, you’ve added costs to your business and you might be making it more difficult for customers to appreciate what you do for them.