Yesterday when I was eating lunch I kind of had an "ah ha" moment. When I was eating a can of Heinz Chipotle BBQ style beans I realized how Heinz had increased their customer base because I was the one they added! I recognized what they did and how any small business could use the same tactic to get more customers. As I thought about this more I realized other things as well that Heinz could have done to even further increase their success.
So what exactly happened at lunch? What did I realize? I was in the grocery store looking to buy something for lunch and I noticed that Heinz beans were on sale. I thought that might not be a bad idea and grabbed some of the maple flavoured beans I remember eating when I was growing up. Beside this flavour of beans was the BBQ flavoured beans. When I realized this I immediately had a series of thoughts flood through my brain. The first thought was I have eaten this product before. The second thought was that the last time I ate it, the product had a very bitter taste that was almost appalling. The third thought was that I remember I had told myself I would never eat BBQ Heinz beans again. The fourth thought was.....wait a second, this packaging looks different. The fifth thought was, oh, this product is not BBQ but Chipotle BBQ. The sixth thought was, beans could taste really good with the right BBQ flavour. The seventh thought was, maybe I should give this product another try as it might have been improved. The eighth thought was, yes I should at least try it but only buy one can in case it still tastes terrible. This all occurred in the matter of about 2 seconds but I do remember actually thinking through each of those thoughts. I then bought one can of Heinz Chipotle BBQ beans.
When I got home for lunch I was in a rush and wanted something easy to make. I also kind of wanted to try the can of Chipotle BBQ beans because given I had made the conscious decision to let myself purchase it I was kind of excited to see if it was any better than the last time I tried it. Not only was the can of beans good........it was amazing!!! Like I am talking 20 out of 10. Like Wayne Gretzky is to hockey...that is what this was to canned beans. It is hard to even call it canned beans, that was such a put down to this product. This was a complete meal on a totally different level....better then my best chili. I was blown away by how good it tasted. So much so I am actually going tonight to buy a whole case of it while the sale is still on. Heinz just won a new raving fan......the best kind of customer.....I still can't believe I like it so much that I am actually writing about it on my business blog....ha!
What We Can Learn From Heinz Chipotle BBQ Style Beans About Generating New Customers
The first thing we can learn is that improving an under performing product or service can be a very cost effective way to increase sales, by both generating new customers, brining back old customers and increasing sales with existing customers. By improving the name and packaging of the Beans, Heinz is sure to attract new people to try the beans and with the improved taste they will probably turn into loyal customers. The same holds true for old customers, which my story is a perfect example of. Finally they may also be able to increase sales with existing customers. So people who buy their beans on a regular basis may increase their total purchases of Heinz beans because now they have a great tasting product that could act as a replacement for chili. Improving an existing product (if it has potential) is a great move because improving something is usually less expensive then creating a new product or service. There are often numerous one time fees to set up or establish a new product that can be avoided by improving an existing product. Another benefit is that you have an existing customer base to start with. So Heinz gets great points for improving the name, packaging and taste of the product. But what else could they have done?
Heinz missed a great opportunity to get even more customers and drive sales by not communicating the changes to the product. I almost did not buy the can of beans because I thought they had only changed the name of the product and I was worried it was going to be the same bitter tasting product that I despised. There are multiple ways they could have communicated this change. At the very minimum they should have at least noted the formula improvement on the packaging. Secondly they could have done some advertising on the product improvements, especially to people who currently buy their products or people who bought their products in the past. Both of these groups would be much more likely to try the product and therefore provide a better return on investment. In this case I would argue the product is so good that they should have also advertised to people that have never eaten their beans, to try and generate new customers.
Finally because they had such a great tasting product they should have done some marketing to showcase this great taste. They should have done some sampling of the product in grocery stores, at events or just given some trial samples of the product away. For your business you can do the same thing? If there is one particular aspect of your product or service that is excellent you should showcase it. For example, if you sell an email service that has a great auto-responder feature show case it by performing free demonstrations, holding webinars or giving away free DVDs with a video demonstration of how the auto-responder feature works. (An aside, if you are looking for an email service with a great auto-responder feature try Aweber or Constant.) The only way for people to find out something great about your product or service, is for someone to tell them, or show them.
The Key Takeaways
1. Improving an existing product or service can be a very effective way to get new customers and increase sales with existing or previous customers.
2. If you have an existing product or service that is under-performing, try modifying it before discarding it.
3. If you make improvements to a product or service communicate it right on the product (if your product is a service make this communication part of the service)
4. If you make improvements to a product or service advertise the improvements (Especially to past and existing customers. Existing and past customers will probably be more likely to try it then someone who has never bought from you)
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My name is Chris R. Keller. I work at Profitworks Small Business Services helping various B2B small businesses in Waterloo and Kitchener Ontario generate new customers. If you are interested in generating new customers for your B2B small businesses enter your email in the box provided below and click the "Send Me Free Updates" button.
I hope this article on the "Get More Customers" was interesting. Thanks for reading.