3 Steps To Make Quality Products And Services

In chapter 15 of Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, the author talks about the word ‘quality’ and how impossible it is to describe with any logic exactly what it is.

Now here’s the thing. Most of us recognise quality, but what you think of quality may be completely different to someone else’s idea of it. To some, a chunky solid gold bracelet oozes quality. To others it is just chavvy.

Whilst he was a lecturer Pirsig was asked a couple of times if he was teaching ‘quality’. This was just a part of the reason for his later insanity episodes.  Here’s a quote from the book:

Soon the thought interrupted him again. Quality? There was something irritating, even angering about that question. He thought about it, and then thought some more, and then looked out of the window, and then thought about it some more. Quality?

Whatever you are doing in business, if it doesn’t have quality, it will fail sooner or later. The passage from Pirsig’s book triggered something in me when I read it.

One of his questions was ‘does quality simply mean better?’. Better than what?

Think about advertising. You hear the words: new, latest, better, best, whiter than white, finest… and of course ‘quality’ (… and often with all those words included with it!). Without any qualifiers it is just rhetoric. Meaningless. Yet the conundrum remains, if it isn’t quality it aint gonna do well!

3 Steps To Quality

So let’s get to the nitty gritty. What does your service or product do that is better than your competition?

  1. Write down a list of everything you can think of that makes your product or service better than your competition.
  2. Define what you mean by better. for each word you wrote down in step 1.  The obvious ones are cheaper, bigger, faster. Just add all the adjectives you can think of.
  3. Now add a description to each of the word pairs in steps 1 and 2. The description is aimed at what your target market will get from each of the word pairs.

Here’s an example:

Step 1: Price

Step 2: Cheaper

Step 3: Saves you money

What we are really doing here is finding features, then looking at the benefits, then connecting it to a lifestyle.

How can a cheaper price possibly be considered as quality? Well that is all down to your offer. That is, the way you are going to market whatever it is you are selling. And you do that by adding value. Value is just as hard to define as quality as it is only a perception. But if you can add value to the perception of your audience you get quality.

From the example above, we can say that we save money by choosing this product that allows us to spend more on the other things we want out of life. Now if that is not adding value and quality I don’t know what is! It is a kind of quality by association.

How To Kill Quality

And what kills quality? Bad products or service. It is as simple as that. Everything you ever do in business should always deliver quality and value of some sort. If you do that, you cannot fail (or least based on the current global economic disaster, you will not fail any quicker than anyone else!).

Whether you are writing an email, talking to prospects, writing advertising copy, presenting, networking, always think of what you can deliver that your audience will perceive as being of value to them.

Quentin Pain

My earliest ambition was to become a rockstar (my band once backed The Waves who went on to win the Eurovision Song Contest). Unfortunately I decided to start a business to support my rock star dream, and as luck would have it, the business took off big time and the rock star dream died. I was 23. By the time I reached 50, my total business count was 6. The last one was Accountz that went from zero to 36,000 customers in 6 years. I now run ProofMEDIA Ltd and my specialism is copy that wins trust, engagement and long term sales. I'm also a published author (including a Dummies title), have won many awards including the IAB Small Business Mentor of the Year, and am a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.