Get All Access for $5/mo

How to Take Your Product From Something Customers Buy to Something They Can't Live Without Here are four ways to help your business go the extra mile and become an integral element of someone's day.

By Kara Goldin Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Klaus Vedfelt | Getty Images

One of the most useful lessons all successful entrepreneurs learn is to think of customers as their company's most important asset; yet too few businesses think about whether they, in turn, are an asset for their customers.

Related: How to Make Your Customers Feel Valued

Becoming a valuable asset for a customer means doing more than dealing with the initial problem your product or service is designed to solve. How else can your brand help customers and become an indispensable part of their lives?

A classic example is coffee shops. On the surface, they are merely a place to purchase a hot beverage. But beyond the frothy lattes and blueberry muffins, coffee shops are where people relax, socialize and, increasingly, work. Buying a coffee is like the price of entry to these essential community spaces.

To help your business go the extra mile and become an integral element of someone's day, try these four ways of making an asset out of your brand.

1. Help them become more regular customers.

U.K.-based dry cleaning chain Timpson offers free services to unemployed people when they have a job interview. Helping people who may not be able to afford to dry clean a suit is an excellent community service. But it's also a smart new business strategy, as people with jobs are more likely to need and be able to afford regular suit cleaning. By becoming an asset to unemployed people, Timpson creates more regular customers with high levels of brand loyalty.

Some of my company's best customers almost exclusively drink our beverages, but they are also busy people who don't always have time to get to the store to replenish their supply. That's why we created a subscription delivery service to save people time and effort, while also making them more regular customers.

Related: How to Really Hear and Use Customer Feedback

2. Open their eyes to new things.

Boxed food delivery services like Blue Apron and Hello Fresh take the hassle out of meal planning and shopping. In addition to reducing the need for shopping lists and supermarket trips, fans of meal kit services often praise them for bringing variety to mealtimes. Instead of cycling through the same old standards, the weekly recipes allow people to eat seasonally and explore new and exciting foods from around the world. This sense of discovery elevates these services beyond mere convenience and become an essential daily asset.

My business has recently begun expanding our product range as we explore other ways to fulfill our mission of making people healthier. Now our customers are discovering how products like sunscreen and deodorant can be better. By continuing to open people's eyes to how they could be living healthier, we become an increasingly valuable part of their lives.

3. Enhance their lifestyle.

Nike is a global leader in athletic shoes and apparel, but in recent years, the brand has also become the hub for a community of athletes. NikePlus Membership provides free in-person and video workouts and yoga classes, while the company's mobile apps allow people to track run times and share them with friends. For devoted fitness fans, Nike is now more than just the swoosh on their running shoe.

My company recently launched a blog featuring recipes, fitness advice and beauty tips. By expanding our reach beyond our products and into content, we'll become even more of an everyday lifestyle asset for our customers.

Related: Long-Term Customer Loyalty Starts (or Ends) With Your Earliest Interactions

4. Let them be flexible.

Another way to be an asset to your customers is to give them the ability to change their mind. Buying your product or service shouldn't be an unbreakable commitment. Department store Nordstrom has a famously open returns policy. Each case is dealt with on its own merits with the "ultimate objective of making our customers happy," and there is no time limit on returns. The store is not always the cheapest place to shop, but customers value the flexibility it provides.

As a subscription service, my business makes it easy for customers to edit or cancel their orders at any time. By giving them the flexibility to change their minds, our service is not an ominous monthly liability but an asset they can completely control.

Stand out from the crowd.

Though the brands mentioned above are from diverse industries, they have one crucial thing in common: competition. Each market features lots of players, and it's hard to offer a truly unique product or service.

That's why it's increasingly vital to deliver more for your customers and become an asset they simply can't live without.

Kara Goldin

Founder and CEO of Hint

Kara Goldin is the founder & CEO of Hint, a healthy lifestyle brand that produces unsweetened flavored water, sunscreen that’s oxybenzone and paraben-free and deodorant made from 100% plant-derived ingredients. Her podcast Unstoppable with Kara Goldin features chats with great entrepreneurs.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick


ChatGPT is Becoming More Human-Like. Here's How The Tool is Getting Smarter at Replicating Your Voice, Brand and Personality.

AI can be instrumental in building your brand and boosting awareness, but the right approach is critical. A custom GPT delivers tailored collateral based on your ethos, personality and unique positioning factors.

Business News

Apple Reportedly Isn't Paying OpenAI to Use ChatGPT in iPhones

The next big iPhone update brings ChatGPT directly to Apple devices.

Business News

Is the AI Industry Consolidating? Hugging Face CEO Says More AI Entrepreneurs Are Looking to Be Acquired

Clément Delangue, the CEO of Hugging Face, a $4.5 billion startup, says he gets at least 10 acquisition requests a week and it's "increased quite a lot."

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.

Business News

Sony Pictures Entertainment Purchases Struggling, Cult-Favorite Movie Theater Chain

Alamo Drafthouse originally emerged from bankruptcy in June 2021.

Business News

You Can Now Apply to Renew Your U.S. Passport Online — But There's a Catch

The U.S. State Department officially launched the beta program this week.