This article is one of the most important I have ever written. It’s also a lot longer than my usual work, so you may want to bookmark it and return to it. There’s a lot to take in and think about.
It starts with a pretty simple question: Are potential clients looking for you… or looking for someone who does what you do?
That’s an extremely important question. A question, which is a more accurate indicator of your commercial future, than just about any other.
Yes, it’s THAT big a question.
Here’s why that question is so important to you
I get 100% of the Jim Connolly marketing inquiries. If someone wants to hire Jim Connolly, they already know how to find me. The key point here, is that they don’t go looking for a marketing provider when they want to hire me. They don’t go to Google or Bing… they email me or call me.
The difference is huge. No, bigger than that!
You see, although I get all the Jim Connolly marketing inquiries, I get a tiny fraction of inquiries from people using search engines, looking for a commodity marketing provider. If they just want a (any) good marketing provider, they have hundreds of thousands to choose from. Those providers then compete against one another.
I don’t need to do that. Ever.
Far more importantly, neither do you!
The 2 ways to position your business or your services
Right now you are in one of these 2 groups. You are either:
- Just like all the others… but a little cheaper, faster or with a little better customer service etc. That’s what over 99% of small businesses do. It turns them into a commodity and is a key reason most small businesses continuously struggle… or go broke.
- Uniquely you. Doing great work, your way, aiming to delight your customers or clients. This is what fewer than 1% of small businesses do.
Those in that first group are commodity providers. They offer what’s known as a commoditized service.
The danger of offering a commoditized service
Here’s a good dictionary definition of a commoditized business:
“To render (a good or service) widely available and interchangeable with one provided by another company.“
Here’s the thing: People buy commodities based on the lowest price.
- It’s why we drive to the lowest priced provider when we need fuel (a commodity) for our car.
- It’s why 2 equally qualified accountants, whose services sound fairly predictable, will have to compete on fees. They have commoditized their business. They have become interchangeable with their commoditized competitors. By the way, this applies to every service provider and not just accountants.
Every day that you choose (yes, it’s a choice) to offer a commoditized service, your business suffers. You suffer too. You deliberately (remember it’s a choice) rob your business of the individuality it needs and thrust yourself into an overcrowded pool of commodity providers.
Until one day… something clicks
… something lifts the fog from your thinking. Something inspires you to leave the overcrowded end of your market, where it’s impossible to succeed in any meaningful way. Something compels you to quit competing and start attracting. Something motivates you to stop being a commodity provider.
Hopefully, this message will be that catalyst for someone. Hopefully, one of the thousands of small business owners reading this, who is struggling in that dead-end 99%, will decide NO MORE.
- No more looking to the future with apprehension.
- No more lowering your lifestyle goals, to meet the limitations of your under performing business.
- No more dealing with fee-sensitive clients.
- No more working with people you don’t like, because you need the income.
I have helped hundreds of business owners with this. To stop your business from being a commodity provider, you need to be prepared for a couple of things.
Firstly, you have to stop fooling yourself
You have to stop pretending you’re in that 1% when you’re not. Here are just a few common examples of what a commodity provider looks like:
- You get too few word of mouth referrals. Clearly, when your service is seen as a commodity, there’s nothing much to motivate people to tell their friends about you.
- You find yourself competing on fees. When your service looks too similar to your competitors, potential clients will use your fee to determine your value to them.
- You struggle to attract enough inquiries. A commodity provider is constantly competing against all the other, similar providers in that 99%.
- Your business struggles for visibility. So, you need to buy ads, attend networking events etc.
- You need to ask people to recommend you, because they are not doing this automatically.
Secondly, you need to put the cookie cutter down
The only way to stop being seen as a commodity provider, is to stop providing a commodity service. This means leaving the fake comfort that comes from being a predictable commodity and embracing the change required, to stand out.
It means looking at your services and adapting them, so they are what the client wants and needs — rather than your version of what your competitors provide.
It takes courage.
Therein lies the problem
Although the riskiest thing a small business owner can possibly do, is to be seen as a commodity provider, it feels safe. It feels safe, ironically, for the same reason it kills small businesses.
It feels safe, because almost everyone is doing it!
By playing it safe you will, with 100% certainty, at best, struggle to make a living. However, it FEELS safe… and that’s enough to stop 99% of small business owners from doing what they know they need to do.
I have no idea where you or your business is right now.
- You could be in the 1%.
- You may be a commodity provider, who’s comfortable working hard and going nowhere in that super-dangerous 99%.
- But perhaps you’re a commodity provider, on a mission to leave that 99%!
If you are in that final group, this post is for you. In fact, everything on this blog is written for you and those already in the 1%.
Why? Because no marketing on the planet can save a commodity business.
No one can help a business, owned by someone who lacks the courage to be better than average. Commodity providers who are happy being average, come here looking for tricks. They want a ‘killer way’ to attract people to their average service, which no one is talking about because it’s so… well… average. They will search for tricks, until they run out of money or time.
For those with the courage to want more
If you’re interested in being more than a commodity provider, I can help. There are thousands of ideas on Jim’s Marketing Blog, yours to use for free. Just use the search box, midway down the right hand side.
If you want to find creative ideas, for free, to help you make your business more than a commodity, I’ve built a website just for you. It’s packed with free ideas, resources and insights and you can find it here.
I hope you’ve found this useful… more importantly, I hope I have inspired you to do something!