Old Products, New Paradigms: The Art of Re-visioning
Even the good old U.S. Postal Service (USPS) could benefit from considering the art of the right product. In fact, they already have a great product: hand-delivered letters. On the operations side, the Postal Service has some amazing, huge advantages and strengths, including a great infrastructure in systems, logistics, distribution, and loyal employees. I consider it an absolute modern miracle that you can put an envelope into a box on a street corner in Fargo, North Dakota, and three days later it can show up at someone’s house in, say, Kamuela, Hawaii and it only costs .48! However, their business model is old and outdated. If they changed it, it could drive greater success.
It’s not only how the USPS does business that’s outdated. USPS customers also appear to have an outdated paradigm of what the Postal Service actually does. It’s no secret that electronic communications have made a lot of Postal Service activities obsolete, since people now can communicate instantly to anyone on the planet through a variety of channels (e.g., texting, email, etc.). So who needs to write a letter and first-class mail to deliver it anymore? Why bother with stationery, addressing an envelope, buying stamps, and taking the letter to the post box?
But here’s where the art of the right product comes in: If you re-imagine what a first-class letter is, and what the experience of getting one is like, it becomes a whole new, intimate experience. Imagine receiving a personal note or letter in the mail—maybe even handwritten by the sender—in these times of impersonal, overcrowded technological communications. Said letter could even include photographs, drawings, or other art as part of it. It might even have a fragrance. It’s a whole new and unique sensory experience. Marketed that way, a personalized letter could command a price of several dollars. And it’s worth it! A first-class personal note should cost $10 or more, not a mere $.48, to travel from one person to another in three days or less.
Is there some way you can re-vision your own product to provide your customers with greater, authentic, personalized value…and at the same time provide yourself with a greater monetary return?
This is a short excerpt from The Five Laws of Retail. Get your copy at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.