Archive | June 2016

Who is your “VP”? It’s not who you think.

fun officeConsumers have lots of choice for their buying needs, and you have lots of competition. So, how do you ensue that they look at your shopping experience, when compared to theirs? That’s a basic question, with a really simple answer.
Find a way to differentiate your business, one that matters to somebody, so that you do not have to compete on price. What is the single-minded point of difference that some narrowly defined ideal client cannot live without? The secret to marketing success is as simple as that. But by finding it, and exploiting it, your business would be in the elite, because your competition isn’t doing it. Why?Because to be unique, you have to actually be different and that scares the heck out of most business owners. Be very clear about this, though, your customers and prospects want you to be different, they require you to be different. To succeed in business you have only one job, and that is to find a way to show that you are completely different in a way that your market wants and values, exploit that difference in every word that you compose and watch your profits soar. It’s painful and a lot of extra work to do, sometimes, but you will be many steps ahead of the competition if you can do it.

Identify your ideal Client

You know you have an ideal client in mind when you can ponder how great life would be if you have a dozen or so more just like them. What makes them perfect for you? Have you done business with one, lately?

Create a list of six to eight of your current ideal clients and commit to sitting down with face to face or over the phone for about fifteen minutes, or you are going to devise a questionnaire and have them complete it and return it to you. As either of these methods are a conversation of sorts, the same questions should be included:

Why did you hire us/buy from us in the first place? Just because you think you know, you may not. You can collect surprising insights, here.

What’s one thing we do that you love the most? You need specifics, here. Drill down from their first answers.

What’s one thing we do that others don’t? Don’t be embarrassed to ask this – no-one else is, so it’s a refreshing change for the answerer. Even if the answer’s as plain as ‘you are close’, you collect extra knowledge.

If you were to refer us what would you say? Look for three adjectives, here. It will help you tally up the most important points when spread over several answers.

Can you tell me about three other companies that you love? Even if these other companies are in your field, you will get another view of your business from the outside. You also learn more about your competition.

If you were conducting an online search for this service, how would you search for it?: You are looking for their search terms in order to further define how a successful search would find you.

Remember that you’re not looking for scientific data, you’re looking more for themes and stories that offer clues to what really does make your firm unique. In most cases you will need to use follow-up statements such as – “Okay, we provide great service, that’s awesome, but tell me a story about a time we did.”

Work with themes that matter

From your interviews you should have some rich themes to work with. Don’t underestimate the power of simple things. Quite often your clients value the little things you do that are special. Resist the temptation to dismiss them as unimportant enough to use as your core point of difference.

List all of the answers, find out who said the most often repeated themes, and drive home a marketing campaign aimed at these clients.

This is your VP – Your Value Proposal to an entire business segment.


How your business can escape from ‘The Everyday Box’

Box 2It’s a worthwhile exercise to ask yourself if your life has turned out the way you expected it to – especially in your entrepreneurial life. If you ask yourself “How is my Business really doing?”, then how do you measure it? Turnover, Service, Employee number, growth, competition, money, your life-style? Nowadays we are expected to look at all of these as parts of the same equation. So, let’s start with an easier way to ask the question. Here are three choices, which one does your business most closely resemble?


Has your Business failed spectacularly?

Is your business a runaway success?

Is your business an ‘everyday’ business?

 You probably answered the third choice, and you have a business in The Everyday Box. However, because you recognize that fact, there are very simple ways for you to change it.

The Everyday Box is what your business gets caught in when you are ploughing forward, simply paying the bills. If you answered either of the first two, you may be in a better position. To have flamed out as a business owner, you have striven to get too far, too fast. You have made some choices that weren’t right at that time, or with those customers and prospects, or your staff couldn’t follow through for you.

If your business has – eventually – taken off, you have probably done the same things as the failure mentioned above, and they have worked. Chances are you have been through failure before, and it has resulted in a success this time. Of course, the answers aren’t simply to do with timing, but it could be something equally as glaring, or a combination of other simpler components that, when put together, made the choice. However, the education that you had been through before, made you do something a little different, or at a different time, or with a different purchaser profile, and, when put together, worked.

If you are ‘in between’ these two states, you are in the Everyday Box – and you may not know it. You are making excuses based on outside influences: The economy, the weather, the entrenched competition. You qualify your decisions as doing what you need to do to pay the bills, keep the staff happy, and keep everything ‘ticking over’ until this current negative situation clears up, miraculously. Of course the chances are that it will be replaced by another negative situation. As your business lurches toward the failure you are scared is going to happen, you become immobile, and continue on as if this is ‘business as usual’. If it is, you are really in trouble. So, how do you get out of it?

The first step, as with any difficult decision is to recognize that you are in the Everyday Box, and what you need to do to get out of it. That is remarkably easy: Go back to the reason why you started this thing in the first place, and what you were going to do to make it a success. Take a critical look at your entire chain, from prospecting to returning customers, and figure out how they differed from what you thought they were going to be. How do you change either them, their habits, your goods and services, or your marketing. Look at your staff. Are they in it for the long haul? They have to be entrepreneurial, too. Are they? Tell them what you are going to do, what changes are going to come up, how long it’s going to take. Will they follow you? Chances are, they will. Trim the dead wood, move forward, set yourself a goal and hit it. In other words, change.

One of two things will happen…and you know what they are. On the way to that place though, your business will change. Everyone will be more energized: Employees, contractors, suppliers and prospects will see how energized everyone has become. Everyone will be focused on the new goal, and you will be enjoying life once again.

You will pick up renewed interest from old contacts, and some new ones, too. Your drive to make this thing a runaway success is not only infectious – it is required. The way to get out of the Everyday Box is exactly the way to move your business toward success: Your enthusiasm. If you fail, you will have learned more about how to make it work next time. Your gutsy moves will mean more investment money next time, because nothing breeds enthusiasm in others like your own enthusiasm.

No business should be ‘just good enough’, it should be an unqualified success…or it should die trying. In either case, you will have gotten out of the Everyday Box.