Our offer for a free Nintendo DSi on orders of over £1299, got me thinking about Nintendo and its business practises.
In the videogame wars of the last few years, Microsoft and Sony have pumped hundreds of millions into subsidising their high-tech consoles, hoping to make money back in the short term on game sales and added services. Nintendo however, has been making healthy profits. How? By buying low-spec ingredients and cooking them into something special. The company has always been one-step behind in its technology and one-step ahead in its insight.
Sega Game Gear
In the 1990s Sega released the Game Gear, a handheld console with bells and whistles. Customers got a back-lit, full-colour screen – and horrible battery life. Nintendo released the technically-inferior Game Boy. This had a black & white screen and needed an external light, but gave its players something they really appreciated: fantastic battery life.
With the Wii, the company ignored market analysts shouting ‘HD! HD!’ and released a console that ran in standard definition and didn’t have a DVD drive. The product took off because the Wii created a market – and didn’t need expensive components to do it.
With the Nintendo DS we got touch-screen technology that had been around for years, and now the company is working on a handheld console (rumoured to be made with older, cheaper, chips) that has a 3D screen.
Make your customers order again and again
How can we apply that thinking to our own businesses? Well, if you run a restaurant I’m sure you’ve got the analogy. For the rest of us, I suspect the answer doesn’t like in new product development, but in improving the experiences of customers using our companies.
Let’s say you run a plumbing business. If you’re doing standard jobs for particular types of customers (the older or single people), maybe you could leave a screwdriver and pliers set. It could be something that won’t break, but isn’t industrial grade with a customer, along with a printed crib sheet of handy household tips for basic plumbing fixes. With this small investment, you’ll add to your service. You’re not just coming in and fixing things, you’re making the customers’ life easier after you leave.
If you’re in an accountancy firm, maybe you can offer to take people’s mobile numbers and text them when they should start doing tax returns. OK, there’ll be some investment of time and effort in finding a text-messaging system to use, but keep the costs down and, again, you’re adding to your service in an unexpected way.
Just like Nintendo, you can offer simple extras that will make customers order again and again. What recipe would you make for your business?