123rf8424552 largeI was out walking my dog at the off-leash park down by the river having a great time while I was also listening to the replay of a copywriting course I was taking.

On the call, the instructor was sharing an example of how powerful stories are in the sales and marketing process. They often engage and educate the listener, which is what happened to me. I had a client in the carpet cleaning business which often is a commodity sale, you know, [quotesright]the lowest price often earns or gets the business because the decision is price based. [/quotesright]

I was looking for a way to help them break free from their commodity-based business model, turn it on its head and transform it into a value-based model. [quotes]Who would have thought that walking my dog would have given me to the answer?[/quotes]

The story the instructor was relating on the replay was about fishermen, not just any old fishing story but one about a couple of young lobster fishermen off the of coast of Maine. They would get up and be on the water early in the morning (4:00 a.m.!) with the seagulls setting their lobster traps to get their bounty.

These young fishermen, like most lobster fishermen, started out doing it the same way as all the others had. [quotesright]After being on the water for hours they would pull their traps up and[/quotesright] head back to the docks to sell their catch off the back of their boats at the same price per pound as all the other lobster fishermen.

These enterprising men were always looking for a way to up their game, improve their services and profits, and provide an excellent customer experience. The season was over and they headed off to business college. It was there where they decided to use their lobster fishing business as a case study for one of their marketing classes.

[quotes]They came up with a way to raise the bar.[/quotes] When they got back the next season they couldn't wait to throw their traps in the water. They had a plan and new strategy to sell the lobsters somewhere else, in a different way, and for more money per pound.

They came back the very first morning with a huge catch and were grinning as they docked and tied down the boat. They had a new strategy that they believed would also be earning more money.

They started offloading their catch and heading to Martha's Vineyard. [quotesright]All the other fisherman gave them a hard time[/quotesright] saying that they won't sell much up there, claiming that it would be a waste of time. The opposite happened. They did extremely well, better than they ever had imagined. But they didn’t stop with that one idea. [quotes]They started asking themselves what else they could do[/quotes] to add huge value and solve a problem for others.

After several weeks of fishing early in the morning and selling their catch at Martha's Vineyard, another idea bubbled up. They decided that they would reach out further into cottage country where there is an affluent community but no lobster fishermen. [quotesright]The real genius of making this work was that[/quotesright] they created a club and sold memberships. Of course, the naysayers down at the docks scoffed and said there's no way that they could sell memberships…any at price.

The doubters were very wrong. They sold 200 plus memberships the first year and grew it the next season. They created a value proposition that was focused on the customer experience by providing something that was memorable for their cottage country clients. They would be delivering everything that their members needed to have an amazing, yet simple-to-create lobster dinner for friends and family.

So now here's how this story was spun to turn the carpet cleaning business into a value-added business. [quotes]It was instantaneous, well…it came as fast as I could share the idea[/quotes] with my client – after all I was at the dog park enjoying myself. Once the dog was walked and I’d finished listening to the training course replay, I called my client and asked them to write this down: "Lobster Fishermen."

I told them, “When we have our session next week I'll explain how this will turn their business around and stop the focus on the price conversation.” [quotesright]I’m sure they were wondering if I’d lost it completely and they’d hired a lunatic. [/quotesright]

At our next session, I related the story of the lobster fisherman and how they turned their business model on its head. We set up a membership club for their business. The terms and offers were different but it allowed them to answer their phone in a unique way.

The new phone approach let them ask questions designed to understand the prospects’ needs and at the same time educate them on the benefits of the carpet cleaning process they used. [quotesright]That helped them increase their sales 150 percent[/quotesright] and earn more money while working with more of their ideal clients; this all happened in fewer than six months.

There are a couple of nuggets in these paragraphs you can use in your business to give you a Unique Value Proposition (UVP) for your products and services or show some of your clients how they can create their own UVP and make more money and in turn move more of your products or services in the process.

[quotes]Ask yourself, what can you bring to market[/quotes] for yourself and your company that adds additional value, value that isn't being offered by your competitors. How can you help your clients do the same thing?

[quotesright]Another takeaway is to follow your dreams and aspirations, and not listen to the naysayers who resist change or believe we live in a steady state universe where nothing changes.

You’ll be eating lobster dinners regularly if you do…

- by Coach Phil Gilkes