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What a pop can and a straw can teach us about value

When I was in South Carolina visiting my sister Amy a couple of weeks ago, we decided to gather our mom and my brother-in-law’s Aunt Rosie to go get a pedicure as a foursome.

Not wanting to spend a lot of money or time, we chose a little nail place in the strip mall that houses the Harris Teeter grocery store near Amy’s home. Our expectations were not especially high: We knew that our feet would get a little sprucing up while we enjoyed the massaging chairs and a chat. I subconsciously dismissed the possibility that we’d get any kind of super deluxe treatment. After all, the spa pedicure was costing each of us just $27.

When we walked in to the salon I was surprised by being immediately offered a can of pop. I don’t drink a lot of soda, but this unexpected question merited a yes. I chose Diet Coke.

I immediately began to feel a little pampered.

Then, when I started to open the can, the salon owner–in between getting my sister’s foot basin ready–went out of his way to pass me a straw wrapped in paper. He held it out with one end open and waited patiently with a smile for me to take the straw out.

My experience was beginning to feel even more special.

I joyfully took a sip of my bubbly-indulgency-freebie.

By that point–a mere 3 minutes after entering the salon–I was seeing things in a totally different way.

I was feeling all the world like my sassiest, most confident self. I let my concerns and task list recede into the background and told myself that indeed I was worthy of having pretty toes and a leg massage–well really, a little break now and then–because I had been working so hard. Needless to say, I also became very pleased about how my whole day was going.

My perception of this little salon and its services–actually of the entire experience–had been completely transformed, just because I was greeted with a little something extra. The perceived value of this inexpensive pedicure soared.

How much do you suppose that can of soda cost the salon? Cents? And the straw? Pennies? The extra minute to ask the question and fetch it for me? Just one. Yet this one little unexpected gesture made me feel as though I was at a fancy salon having the full spa treatment (for which I would have paid at least $65.)

Seth Godin succinctly describes this dynamic in Two Halves of the Value Fraction:

Value = benefit/price. That means that one way to make value go up is to lower price, right?

The thing is, there’s another way to make the value go up. Increase what you give. Increase quality and quantity and the unmeasurable pieces that bring confidence and joy to an interaction.

When all of your competitors are busy increasing value by cutting prices, you can actually increase market share by increasing value and raising benefits.

So, the question I’ve been asking myself is obvious: How can I augment the value of what I offer by raising benefits and increasing what I give?

Let’s learn from each other.

Please share a similar customer experience you’ve had–or demonstrate how you’ve integrated this principle into your own business–in the comments below.

Rachel xo