“You have value when you meet customers’ needs. You can count on those needs changing and, because they do, you have to change the way you do business—or your value will migrate to someone else!.”
Adrian Slywotsky in Value Migration: How to Think Several Moves Ahead of the Competition
Why should your customers do business with you? What makes you unique? What is your Unique Selling Point (USP) – that advantage you promote in all your marketing? These questions should identify a product or service that the customer can’t get anywhere else and should be the flag under which you advance your sales and marketing efforts. When the issue is USP, you could consider…
• Your USP may be that you maintain service 24/7.
• It may be that you provide more practical information and advice than anyone else.
• It may be that you have everything in stock at all times—no waiting or back-ordering necessary.
• It may be that you sell your products at the lowest mark-up in the industry.
• It may be that you guarantee same-day service.
Pitfalls to be avoided.
Mal Emery’s top-ten marketing mistakes are as
Trap #1: You fail to focus your business on the needs of your prospects or customers.
Trap #2: You fail to specify who your market is and what their wants and needs are.
Trap #3: You fail to capture your customers’/ prospects’ names and addresses.
Trap #4: You don’t try to sell your customers something else on the ‘back-end’.
Trap #5: You fail to make doing business with you convenient, easy, and appealing; and you’re not ready to sell when your prospects are ready to buy.
Trap #6: You are not persistent and willing to ‘stick it out’ until you’ve contacted your prospect enough times to warrant dropping them.
Trap #7: You have no marketing plan to guide your business to financial success.
Trap #8: You don’t know how to write/produce persuasive marketing materials that get your prospects to buy NOW, or that get your customers to buy again.
Trap #9: You don’t tell your prospects what it is about you that should make them want to buy from you instead of someone else – that is, establishing your USP.
Trap #10: You don’t change. You’re aware of Traps 1-9 but you still go back to doing business the same old way!
How do you set your price?
Many businesses consistently undersell their products out of fear of losing their customers to the competition. Most have never tested the outer limits of their pricing structures nor fully considered the external factors which impact upon price.
Boardroom Reports proposes the following logical rules:
• Keep prices below that of your competitors when the market demonstrates it is extremely responsive to price and when you are expanding into new territory or buying market share.
• The basic product requires substantial spare parts, servicing, consumables or after-sales support. Profit margins can be maximized in these other areas.
• Your business is so small that the major competitors will not bother to retaliate.
• Consider setting prices above that of your competitors when:
o Your customers can easily pass on the higher costs, for example in cost-plus jobs.
o The market rates consistency, service, range, prestige etc., as important or more important than price.
o The items account for only a small fraction of the buyer’s total costs.
o Your product is so integrated into the customer’s system that it would be expensive, time consuming and frustrating to go elsewhere.
o The buying decisions come from sections of the business not associated with finance or budgetary responsibility.
The 7 steps to small business success
When Paul Kopelcheck was the Board Chair of SCORE (Counselors to America’s Small Business), he identified what he called the ‘7 Steps to Small Business Success’:
- Start Smart: Identify a niche. Don’t compete to be the lowest cost provider. Look for what makes your product or service unique and adds a special value for the client and charge for that value.
- Plan Ahead: Take the time to write a plan of how you get from point A to point B. A plan gives you a clear future focus and increases your chances of success.
- Set up Systems: The most basic system every business should have is a good financial system.
- Seek out Sales: You need other people selling for you—not employees—goodwill referrals.
- Aim for Growth: Think about the future. How large do you want the company to be in terms of sales, net profit and employees?
- Leverage Opportunities: Take advantage of good opportunities that make sense for you long term.
- Plan Your Exit: Whether you have been in business for one week, one year or 15 years— look ahead to what the business itself will be as an asset.
Little things that make a big difference
You can make very small changes to the way that you conduct business to get big profitable results. You don’t have to spend a fortune, simply add things that your customers will really appreciate.
Give a free instructions guide, a how-to guide, a free hints guide, top tips, tricks etc. Make sure these are relevant and compliment your line of business.
For example, if you sold cars you could give a free top 10 list of safe cars for parents with small children. If you sold mobile phones, you could provide a free guide on the safest and most durable phones.