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Rather Than Get It Wholesale, Access What You Need for Close to Free

Jul 23, 2008
Your company probably puts a lot of effort into getting the lowest wholesale prices for what you need. But do you spend much time finding ways to satisfy those needs for almost free?

Increasingly, savvy companies are developing and including knowledge-based advantages for customers as part of their business models. Usually, this knowledge can be applied to reduce customers' costs or increase the attractiveness of their offerings.

So, you can study how to optimize that value-adding activity for customers as part of an improved business model, or you can ask the most expert suppliers to help you create that better business model. Chances are that the latter approach is not only free, but will lead to a more effective solution.

For example, if you are designing a new restaurant concept, Ecolab's expertise in achieving and maintaining healthful cleanliness can help you design a building and facility that will be easier to maintain in optimally healthful ways.

Companies have often relied on suppliers in this way. Increasingly, firms are looking to their customers to provide the same sort of help.

After all, who is a better judge of their own needs than the customer himself or herself? For example, Dell Computer maintains customized specifications on-line for each of its corporate customers. These specifications are developed in conjunction with the customer's information technology professionals to represent the hardware and software combinations that will work best throughout the company. As a result, these customers steer their purchases to Dell.

On-line retailers like Amazon and Barnes and Noble get free product reviews from their customers which are used to help other customers find products they like. These ratings also allow the retailers to suggest other items that have appealed to other customers who have tried both.

Shareholders can be a powerful source of free expertise, as well. By providing discount coupons or reduced rates to shareholders, many companies get reviews of their operations from concerned customers who have a stake in the outcome. Marriott is a good example of this approach.

Outside professionals can also be attracted to provide free or low cost inputs if you can make the tasks appealing enough to them. Combinations of making the activities fun, intellectually rewarding, and prestigious should be helpful in this regard. The potential to do much more in this area remains.
About the Author
Donald Mitchell is an author of seven books including Adventures of an Optimist, The 2,000 Percent Squared Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution Workbook, The Irresistible Growth Enterprise, and The Ultimate Competitive Advantage. Read about creating breakthroughs through 2,000 percent solutions and receive tips by e-mail by registering for free at

http://www.2000percentsolution.com .
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