Without a doubt the most important marketing strategy a small business owner can employ is positioning. Now this term means many things to many people but for the sake of this article what I mean is this: finding and communicating your company´s unique point of difference in a way that matters to your prospective clients.
I hope you see from that statement that there are clearly two parts to this strategy. First you must identify something that matters, something that your firm does or can do that is unique, and second you must be able to communicate it in a way that gets attention and shows without a doubt that you have something that your competition does not.
Finding a difference
As far as the average prospect is concerned one firm is very much like another. All accountants, electricians, computer technicians, marketing consultants and whatever your firm does are alike. Wait you say, but we do quality work, we guarantee customer satisfaction, we deliver as promised, we give free estimates, we have fair pricing, our trucks are radio dispatched"?¦just to name a few. Those, my friends, are not unique differences they are expectations.
I´ve said this before and I´ll say it again. If you want to find something that matters to your target audience don´t focus on what you do, focus on how you do it. Look at the way you deliver your product, the experience your customer has, the way the transaction is completed, the way you clean up after the job, the service after the sale, the thank you card you send. The little things you do to make you customer´s life better is what they are looking for. Simply showing your staff how to remember the names of your clients can be a killer way to differentiate your firm.
If you want to know what it is that makes you different, ask you current clients. Often you have no idea how much they appreciate the little things you do. Many times you do them because that´s just the way you think business ought to be done, but if others in your industry don´t happen to think that way then you´ve got a great benefit on your hands.
Recently I did some marketing work for a remodeling contractor swore his key point of difference was quality craftsmanship. When I visited with a number of his past clients they all told me that they loved how his crew cleaned up the job site every single night. Remember it´s not a benefit unless the client says it is!
Communicating the difference
Once you identify how your firm is different, you must find a way to cut through the clutter and let the world know. I´ve worked with companies that had very unique services and products that couldn´t get any one to buy or even notice them. It´s not enough to simply build a better mousetrap.
One of the most powerful ways for a small business owner to communicate the benefits of hiring them is with packaging. Now think outside the box with me for a minute (sorry) Expand your definition of packaging.
Remember the mantra, "it´s not what you do but how you do it."?? Well a great way to bring attention to "how you do it"?? is to create unique, benefit driven names for your services and processes.
Instead of free estimates, you now feature "No wiggle price guarantees. Your "10-point white glove clean-up"?? process is documented and shown as part of your sales effort. You give your clients a "Happy call"?? after your service. You offer a "Total Systems Audit"??
By naming some of the processes you use to add value to the customer relationship, you automatically highlight what matters most to your customers. In many cases your competitors may offer a similar service but because you packaged that service, created a name for it, and communicated it in your ads"?¦you win"?¦because you grab the lead position in your target market´s mind. And that is where the small business marketing battle is fought and won.