Most businesses want more customers. Not all, as it depends on what stage you are at. I was talking to a business last week who are at capacity and thus don’t want to take on more work until they are ready to scale up.
But if like most people, you do want more business, then one key way to attract the right clients is to have clarity on your point of difference. To put it another way, can you answer the question: What is it that makes your business stand out from the crowd?
You see, today there are a hundred and one different choices. If it’s buying IT services, there are many companies that offer this. If it’s business coaching, again you’re not short of companies and individuals that can help you out. If you want a website, our industry, well you can choose everything from a plethora of systems that allow you to do it yourself, to hiring a full-service web & branding agency.
But let’s be honest, it's quite easy to be paralysed by having too much choice. Everywhere you look we are bombarded with adverts, online ads, newsletters, emails, all asking for your attention. It can be exhausting and lead to buyer fatigue. Yes. It’s a thing.
So how can your business stand out from amongst the crowd? Let’s take a look.
Consider this scenario: There are two accountancy firms on your local high street. What is it that will make you choose one over the other? It may be cost - whether high or low; quality of brand - does their design look professional or like the owners 12-year-old nephew created it; the environment - one might have a friendly, welcoming building. The other might be a mess of paper files seen through the window.
Whatever the reason there will be something that makes you choose one over the other –assuming you need accountancy support in the first place!
So what can you do to help customers choose you over your competitors?
1. Have a clear message
Do people know what you do? What about why you do it?
If people dislike your business, this is not necessarily a bad thing! It means they know enough about you to actually think about disliking you and hopefully if you have a clear message, it means they are not your target audience anyway. It's OK for them not to like you.
Consider the opposite: you are not thought about at all or even worse when people think about your business, all they think is 'meh' or they just don’t know what you do. They see you as vanilla. If there's someone else that actually stands out, they're going to choose them.
Having a clear message and communicating it shows you stand for something and specific customers will connect with that.
2. Deliver top quality customer service.
I was speaking to a business recently who went out of their way to re-deliver a product to a customer immediately upon recognising they had supplied the wrong one.
The van that covered the route the customer was on wasn’t due to go out again until the next day. So it was a cost to the business to send a van out to that one customer to fulfil the order. That’s good customer service and it is a key way that that particular business is successful.
Their customers know that even though they have grown over the years, they still have the personal touch. It’s part of their DNA.
Many businesses will look to cut corners to save money, so it is a key way you can stand out.
3. Become more efficient
When you order a product on Amazon you immediately get a receipt emailed through. It's expected. When you buy a product from a 'bricks and mortar' Apple store you have the option of having your receipt emailed to you to save on paper, and you don't have to queue in line for the checkout. That's efficient.
I know of some businesses who are still spending hundreds of pounds each month sending out paper newsletters to their customers. It's 2016! There's no need to be wasting money in this way. Sending email newsletters are far more efficient and you can track how they are received –and if they are viewed. You can't really do that with paper newsletters.
Another business I'd dealt with in the past sent out every key communication via fax, email and letter! Seriously. They did because that's what they'd always done. No-one thought to question whether this was needed let alone how much this was costing them. I've not been in touch with the company for years, but I do hope they put a stop to this practice and are more efficient.
It's not difficult to be head and shoulders above the competition with this one.
4. Get professional design
Many businesses start off trying to cut costs to get up and running. Design and marketing are often areas where cuts happen. Unfortunately, this is the key area that will allow the business to grow long term.
Good design is known to increase business turnover. The Design Council carried out research some years ago which indicated that "For every £1 invested in design, businesses can expect over £20 in increased revenues".
Using a professional designer for your logo and brand, website, flyers and more, who understands how to communicate with your target audience will easily help you stand out from your competitors.
Without good design, you can end up looking cheap and vanilla if not worse, actually put off customers from doing business with you.
Standing out from the crowd is not always that difficult. Just using one of the four ways mentioned can help you sit head and shoulders above the competition allowing you to thrive.