Why is it that the things we know intuitively are often the things we ignore? It is human nature to look for the magic bullet, The 4-Hour Workweek — the easy, quick, and guaranteed road to success. Yet in reality, it is almost easier than all of the gimmicks.
Here are three really simple and painless ways to make your business unique and standout from the competitive crowd:
1. Find your niche market.
Are you letting anyone who can find you become your customer or are you targeting ideal clients? When you wait for the phone to ring, you are missing out on everything. Instead, find a niche — a subset of your target audience.
For example, if your small business offers general accounting services, but you have always worked best with senior citizens because you enjoy meeting with them and appreciate their unique needs — then focus on serving them well. Your positioning would then become the go-to-accountant for senior citizens.
Then your activities would center around marketing to them directly by participating and engaging in the personalized senior market. Create marketing material, company blog posts and contributed articles in larger font sizes so an older audience can easily read them. Your goal is to know this client and tailor your services to meet their needs.
Every small business owner has a passion and a career. Wouldn’t it be great to combine the two by serving a niche market?
2. Connect with your tribal identity.
If your marketing efforts are only adding clutter while you shout into a crowded marketplace, you are defeating your company’s purpose. Today’s customers don’t like to be sold or pushed, instead they like to buy or be pulled.
Author Marty Neumeier explains this principle in his book, Zag: The Number One Strategy of High-Performance Brands, and suggests that customers, “tend to buy in tribes,” so companies should “focus their communications, not on a USP [unique selling proposition] but on a UBT — A Unique Buying Tribe — that has a natural affinity for the company’s products or services.”
Neumeier suggests that, “In a tribe, news spreads quickly, which gives brands extra traction.” In essence he believes that USP’s are about pushing products and services while UBT’s are about pulling people into a tribe they can trust.
3. Focus on customer desires.
Don’t make relationship building harder than it has to be. For instance, you go in and meet with a client or someone walks into your retail shop. They hire you or buy a physical product. Simply because they made a purchase, you expect they will be back, right? Sorry. That’s not how it works.
While many small business owners believe that is how it should work – after all they were happy when you completed the transaction — that scenario is the exception and not the rule. Unless you have the only widget in the world (i.e. high demand and low supply), you will have to keep in touch with clients and customers.
But remember: the relationship is supposed to be about them and not you. This means you shouldn’t send an email blast to your email marketing list with a self-promotional message or “it’s all about my company” newsletters and “try our product” webcasts. Instead, create a communication plan that creates value and can easily scale.
For instance, find out how customers want to receive your messages. Some prefer email, others wish you would retweet them on Twitter and many may want a personal phone call. Know where customer’s hangout on social media platforms. Comment on their blogs, showcase them on your website or simply send them something interesting in the mail. Heck! No one does that – imagine the impact you can make simply by paying attention.
Elaine Joli is an entrepreneur, speaker, author, and founder of indieawesomeness, the independent business network for small business, entrepreneurs and freelancers. Elaine has had an extraordinarily varied, long and successful career as a management consultant, business owner, sculptor and writer.
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