If you want to work with better clients and never need to compete based on fees again, here’s something to consider.
Doing things your way
The moment you stop offering a similar service to your competitors, you stop competing with them. The great news here, is that no matter what industry you are in, you can do things your way and build a highly profitable niche of your own.
Here are 4 examples, from very different industries:
- The accountant, who set up a forum for his clients, so they can network together, help one another and buy from one another.
- The coffee shop owner, who offers customers poetry evenings and creative writing events.
- The dentist, who provides classes for people who have an irrational fear of dentists.
- The gardener, who not only keeps your garden looking great, but also provides all the garden consumables you need and delivers them.
How to make it work for you
Think about your ideal client. Consider their challenges and needs. Now, think of a new service that could help them with those challenges. Alternatively, look for additional, valuable elements, which you can add to one or more of your existing services.
Tip: A great place to find ideas you can use, is to look outside your industry for inspiration. Something that’s extremely common in one industry, is often unheard of in another.
If you need a little help getting your ideas into action, I strongly suggest you read this.
There are 2 types of idea people:
- Those who have lots of ideas.
- Those who have lots of ideas… and do something with them.
Putting your ideas into action
The rewards in business always go to those, who do something with their ideas. Here’s how they tend to get their ideas into action:
- Just like everyone else, they get an idea.
- From this point on, they act very differently to the average person.
- They write their idea down, whilst it’s still fresh in their mind.
- They chew on it for a while.
- Then, if it’s worth working on, they develop a simple plan to get it out of their head and into the world.
- They take the first step on that plan. Then the next…
Failure and criticism
The key difference between those who work on their ideas and those who do not, seems to be their mindset regarding failure and criticism.
Those who act on their ideas, see failure as feedback. They are fine learning from the feedback they get from shipping their ideas. Those who act on their ideas see criticism as a natural part of achieving anything worthwhile. They regard criticism as a sign they are doing something that’s making a splash.
It’s their mindset, not the value of their ideas, which makes all the difference.
I’ve written about fear and failure a lot in the past. This particular post is one you may find useful. It shows how to turn fear into a valuable business asset.
I recently bought 2 boxes of chocolate chip cookies. I don’t like chocolate chip cookies. My family are not especially keen on them either. So, what motivated me to buy them?
People buy the story
When a child from the village school comes to my door selling cookies, it feels different than when a shop is selling them. Even if the product is the same, the story behind the cookies is what we pay for. I wanted to support the local school, so I now have 2 boxes of chocolate chip cookies.
Your business has a story. The question you need to ponder, is whether your story is motivating enough. Here are some ideas and examples to help you.
Are you selling to yourself? That may seem like a silly question, yet it’s one of the most important questions in marketing.
Why? Because business owners tend to market their products as if they were selling to themselves — when they should be marketing to their prospective clients or customers.
Now, if you are a lawyer and your prospective clients are lawyers, that works fine. However, if you sell to people whose needs and wants are different to your own, you need to change your marketing so it’s focused on them.
- Read the marketing of most accountants and you will find lots of statistics and graphs. This is what accountants love, but not their prospective clients. The prospective client wants to know what the accountant can do for them and their business. They want to know why they should hire this accountant and not an equally qualified competitor. They want the story behind the stats.
- Read the marketing of most web designers and it’s filled with jargon and buzzwords. They talk about things like; HTML5, Java, CSS, standards compliance and responsive design. These are things designers love to talk about, but not their prospective clients. Their prospective clients want a professional looking site. They want a site that is an asset to their business.
Anyone using that approach is leaving money on the table. Don’t let it happen to you.
Match your message to their wants and needs
Take a look at your marketing messages, from your prospective client’s vantage point. If possible, ask a prospective client to read your marketing and tell you what it says to them. Determine if you’re marketing based on what they need to hear or on what you think is important. Also, check to see if you are using their language or yours. Sometimes we get so used to industry words, that we forget they are meaningless and confusing to everyone else.
The better you communicate how valuable your services are, the easier you will attract more, great clients or customers.
Recommended Reading: Here’s another good reason not to use buzzwords in your marketing.
So, you’d like more customers or clients. The question is, why should they switch to you, rather than carry on with their current provider?
Why leave their comfort zone?
It takes effort for people to switch from one provider to another. The motivation to switch to you needs to be compelling. It needs to inspire them to leave their comfort zone — to dump their familiar, safe, current provider and risk the unknown.
We know that being a little less expensive, a little faster or a little better isn’t enough. Why? Because marginal differences have very little pull. People need to see an obvious, clear, meaningful reason to switch providers.
This will help you get it right
Take a look at your business from the mindset of a prospective client or customer. Look at the reasons you provide, to motivate them to leave their comfort zone and switch to you.
Considering the perceived risk involved with them switching providers, are the reasons you give truly compelling enough? If not, what meaningful, measurable benefit could you add, which would make switching to you feel:
- Less risky.
- Less hassle.
- More beneficial to them than staying with their current provider.
TIP – Every provider claims to offer great customer service and to go the extra mile for their clients. Focus on developing a meaningful, measurable and motivating difference. Get this right and it can be a game-changer for your business. Yes, it’s that important.
PS: Here’s how to stop your competitors taking clients from YOUR business: How to use the lock-in effect to retain your clients.
How do you get people to spread the word about your business?
I’m going to answer this question for you in today’s post. It’s based on a chat I had with an accountant yesterday.
The usual kind of thing
So, a local accountant wanted to know what was the best way to spread the word about his business. I asked him, what kind of accountancy services he provided. He replied with: “You know… the usual kind of thing, Jim.”
Here’s the key part of my reply.
- If you want the story of a predictable business to reach 100 people, you need to tell 100 people. This is because dull stories don’t spread. You have to push them. You go to networking events, constantly advertise or pester people with emails, etc. The story itself doesn’t spread, because predictable stories don’t have legs.
- If you want a great story, about a business doing meaningful work, to reach 100 people, you tell 1 person… and it spreads. That person tells several more. They do the same. This is because great stories have legs. You nudge them with effective marketing and watch what happens. It’s beautiful. And extremely successful.
Just a little better, faster or cheaper
No one feels compelled to tell their friends about an accountant, (coach, designer, trainer, marketing consultant or whatever), who is just a little better, faster or cheaper than the rest.
If you want the word to spread about your business, improve the story. Make it worth sharing. Be meaningfully different from your competitors.
Then, put your story into the marketplace and watch it travel from person to person. This generates word of mouth referrals, endless sales leads… and frees you up to focus on making your business even more remarkable.
Recommended reading: Is the dream behind your business inspiring enough?