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Perception is everything.

At the recently held Stiles Executive Briefing, consultant Steve Yastrow, president of Yastrow Marketing, made a statement that struck a chord with many: Your brand is not the image you project to the world, but rather what your customers believe about you.

In other words, perception is everything. And it is the manner in which we are perceived that has the most impact on our business relationships with customers.

So, how do you create a positive message about your company? It's certainly not by simply referring to yourself as "the best." ("We offer the best machine for the money. We offer the best prices. We have the best design." The list goes on.) You do it by giving the customer something that he or she can't get from anyone else, whether it be through design opportunities, manufacturing capabilities or other services. And continue to do it, time and time again, thereby building a reputation--a brand--with your customers.

There are a number of ways in which to build the relationship.

Some companies, such as PIN (January Wood & Wood Products) and The Millwork Shop (December W&WP), do it by becoming a one-stop shop for their customers, supplying comprehensive store fixture and restaurant "packages" with everything needed to open their business.

Another good example comes from this month's Industry Trendsetter, Mannington Mills. (See story beginning on p. 46.) This multi-million dollar flooring company succeeds in a relatively flat market by offering customers expanded design options in both its laminate and engineered hardwood lines. By having its two plants located minutes apart, the company is able to maximize its resources and share ideas among the two facilities.

There are other ways to build relationships. For example, last month's Industry Trendsetter Merillat Industries makes available to its vendors and customers the opportunity to participate in the company's Six Sigma program. Along with Merillat employees, customers and vendors can become certified as a Black, Green or Orange Belt.

When you build a relationship with a customer or vendor, you provide what Yastrow referred to as a "powerful differentiator," distinguishing yourself from competitors. In his presentation, Yastrow quoted from a recent survey in which 89 percent of the people said they would rather buy from a business with which they had a relationship, than one that simply provided the best product or service. Also in the same survey, when asked how much price played in their decision, just 21 percent said they would purchase from a business that offered the best price, compared to 89 percent who would rather spend their money with a company with whom they had a relationship.

So, with whom would you rather work: The company that looks to your long-term needs by investing its time, money and resources to help you improve your business, or with the company that sells on price alone, but offers little or no return for the investment?

You make the decision.


Get a jump on planning for the AWFS Vegas Fair by checking out the May issue of Wood & Wood Products. Featured in the issue will be details on the size and scope of the biennial woodworking show, an extensive exhibitors' list, seminar schedule and a wide array of "Showstopper" products.

Coverage continues in the June issue, with the fourth annual Technology Tour, featuring products and services from many of the top woodworking equipment, tooling and software manufacturers. This special feature offers a preview of the new technology which will be on display at the AWFS Vegas Fair.

Also, while at the show, don't forget to stop by our booth and meet the staff of Wood & Wood Products, CWB and CLOSETS magazines, While there, be sure to pick up a copy of the WoodExtra special show edition, featuring all the latest news and information about the AWFS Vegas Fair.
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Title Annotation:EDITOR'S PAGE
Author:Koenig, Karen M.
Publication:Wood & Wood Products
Date:Apr 1, 2007
Previous Article:Directory of manufacturers & distributors.
Next Article:'Made on Earth'.

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