How to Create Value for Customers: The 3 Tiers of Value

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Superfans" by Pat Flynn. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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How do you create value for customers? What is value in business?

To create positive experiences for your customers, you need to offer them genuine value through your product or service. In Superfans, Patt Flynn explains that value is useful products and services for your customers.

Keep reading to learn how to create value for customers.

Creating Value for Customers

No matter how good your marketing or social media presence is, no one will be drawn to your company unless they first like what you are selling. Flynn offers four methods to learn how to create value for customers: solving real problems, aligning your business with fans’ long-term goals, and providing fast results.

The Three Tiers of Value

As you consider the value your company provides, business experts recommend you think of value in three distinct tiers. This will provide a more comprehensive understanding of how your company creates value and what you are trying to achieve.

First, consider the value you are providing to the world: What is your company’s greater role—how will the world become a better place because of your product or service? This is important to consider because customers will be more attracted to your brand if they align with your company’s sense of social purpose—if they support your mission in the world.

Second, think about your role in the lives of your customers. This includes how they experience all their interactions with your business, including purchasing, messaging, and customer service. This tier includes your customers’ unstated needs that they themselves might not easily articulate.

Third, think about your customers’ immediate needs. This includes any statement that would begin with “I want,” “I need,” or “Could you do this for me?” This is the tier that most entrepreneurs think of when they are trying to add value to their customers’ lives.

Value Add #1: Solve People’s Problems

When designing your product or service, Flynn recommends that you first identify the problem you are trying to solve. Your fans’ first positive experience with the brand should be a sense of satisfaction and relief that something bothering them is resolved. Flynn recommends looking online to find people talking about challenges, difficulties, and annoyances in their lives. 

For example, if you would like to start a landscaping company, go online and search for things like “the worst thing about my lawn,” or “the most annoying part of hiring a landscaper.” Try to find online forums where people are airing their grievances about lawn care. Then, design your product or service to be the answer they’ve been looking for. 

(Shortform note: As you identify a problem to solve, business experts argue that the surface-level problem you identify may actually be the result of a deeper-rooted problem that isn’t immediately obvious. For example, if your car keeps running out of gas, the solution might be adding more gas, or it could be fixing a leak in the tank. Business experts recommend answering the following framing questions to clarify the root problem and help you arrive at a better solution: 1) What is the most basic need? 2) What is the desired outcome? and 3) Who stands to benefit and why?)

Value Add #2: Align Your Business With Your Fans’ Long-Term Goals

Flynn explains that you create value for your customers not simply by solving one small problem in the here and now, but by showing your customers how continued investment in your business will lead to the life they want. Think about your customers’ future lives. What direction do their lives move in if they begin engaging with your company? What direction do they move in otherwise? Present your customers with these two competing futures so that they can see how your company will add value to their lives in the long term. 

For example, let’s say you’re selling dental insurance. Show your customers a future where their teeth are healthy, clean, and strong well into their old age. Contrast this with a future where they need to wear uncomfortable dentures because their dental health has declined. Customers will be able to clearly see how your insurance does more than just cover their next checkup.

How Fear Can Motivate Customers Toward Your Brand—or Away From It

Flynn suggests showing customers a negative image of what might happen without your service. This will tap into your customers’ anxieties and fears. Many psychologists agree that fear is the most powerful motivator. Fear is the brain’s system for avoiding danger and staying alive, and therefore has the power to override many other desires and drives.

However, take care in how you use fear—it’s only motivating if there’s a clear “safety” position a person can move to. If you don’t provide a safe alternative, fear can actually paralyze people towards inaction or avoidance. This could even motivate them away from your brand. Furthermore, fear-based marketing may turn customers away because this is a commonly known marketing tactic. They may lose trust in your brand if they feel you are trying to manipulate them.

Value Add #3: Provide Fast Results

Flynn argues that one of the best ways you can provide value to your customers is by offering a few quick and easy wins—that is, immediate improvements to a customer’s life that will make them feel a sense of excitement and success. For example, if your company provides financial advice, don’t lead your pitch with a budget strategy that saves your customer money over a year.

Instead, find something that most people overpay for without realizing it, which could save your customers money right now.

The quick win doesn’t have to be your core product—you can still sell regular products alongside your “quick win” product. The quick win is a great way to generate interest and attract new customers. Flynn explains that he typically includes quick wins like these in newsletters, blog posts, or other forms of communication that are easily accessible for customers who are not yet deeply engaged with the company. 

(Shortform note: Neuroscientists shed some light on why fast results are so attractive and motivate customers to come back to a brand. Your brain’s natural reward system evolved to reinforce behaviors that contribute to your well-being and get you to do them over and over again. If you do something that creates a feeling of “success,” your brain will naturally compel you to repeat that action in the hopes of repeating its result. Therefore, when you give your customer an easy win, the feeling of success will cause the same kind of reinforcement, motivating your customer to come back to your company again and again.)

How to Create Value for Customers: The 3 Tiers of Value

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Pat Flynn's "Superfans" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Superfans summary:

  • How to turn ordinary customers into passionate, lifelong fans
  • The importance of creating a product or service with value
  • Why you should make fans feel like they're a part of your company

Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

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