Tell Me What You Want, What You Really, Really Want…

Posted by martin.parnell |

Two weeks ago, I ran the MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-op) 10km, in Calgary. I thoroughly enjoyed the race, which was well attended and well organized. One thing that’s great about this event is that it only costs $15 to participate. I have run many races, in my time, from 5kms to Ultra marathons and the price to register can vary from $30 to several hundreds of dollars. 

Of course, some of them, particularly the longer ones, have to provide aid stations and other support, but oftentimes, with the shorter runs, the money is used to provide runners with a race shirt or other memento and a finishers medal. My run on Saturday did neither, but I didn’t mind. 

Now, don’t get me wrong, I can understand the value of having the shirt and the medal. I have some that I truly treasure, for instance, the ones from the Boston Marathon, the Comrades Ultra, in South Africa, the Kilimanjaro marathon, my rock from the Lost Souls 160 km, the Massey 5km I ran with my daughter, Kristina and the Marathon of Afghanistan, to name but a few. 

However, there are some races that I have run several times and it would be great to run them again, at a cheaper registration fee and forego the shirt etc. You see, I don’t always want all the extras. Sometimes, I just want the basics. Have you thought about this in relation to your business? 

New and existing customers might be duly impressed with any extras you can provide for them, additional perks that may make the deal more attractive. But, you know that in the long run, they will be paying for them in one way or another. It might be the cost is included in the original price, you may ask for a longer commitment from them or there may be some other way they can reciprocate. 

Some customers, however may not need these extras or perhaps would rather not have them. The reasoning for this may vary. Maybe it puts the cost out of their reach or perhaps they are just not what the customer needs. 

And that is perhaps the point you should ask yourself and be the focus of your research. What does this particular customer actually need? This could apply, in particular, to a company that is starting out or a small business that has to watch every dollar and yet still wants to engage your services. 

They might really appreciate the fact that you have made this consideration and are prepared to present a price that is more appropriate to them because they don’t need or want all the extras. Remember, that company could grow and become a valuable, long-term client. That would be the time to suggest they engage more of your services. 

If you are unsure as to what a particular customer might want, when you are packaging a deal, ask them. You might be surprised and their response could save you time and money in trying to work out what might be the best for them.  

“Know what your customers want most and what your company does best. Focus on where those two meet.” ~ Kevin Stirtz, Manager, Data Analytics Strategy Team – Thomson Reuters. 

Some people would argue that this is not the right tactic and your customer may not know what they need until you tell them.  That may be true if they have the funds to pay for the additional costs but not everyone will be able to and you could end up being perceived as too demanding or out of their league. 

It might also apply to a customer that has seen this tactic before, has all the services they require, at the present time, and knows you are doing this more for the benefit of your company than theirs. This idea brings to mind a quote by Annette Franz, founder of CX Journey, "What is necessary is to listen to your customers: understand their needs, expectations and jobs to be done, and design an experience that meets those needs.” 

And, if you are afraid that taking this approach might affect your profits, perhaps you need to look at your own production costs and see if getting back to basics, in some areas, might benefit your company, too.

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON, is being released on October 9th 2018.

He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality. Find out more about Martin at  and see what he can do for you in the long run.


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