Every business is selling something – products or services, or both.
If you believe that the product or service is all that matters, then all of the businesses that invest in clean and bright showrooms, nice furnishings, and that sort of thing are wasting their resources. Really, I can’t imagine that many would think that.
The things mentioned, like a clean and bright showroom, are meant to convey an image to the potential customers. Design details like color and open spaces is used similarly. These are background for the sale, but they obviously matter.
If these things are so obviously important, think about how you are conveying information to the customers. Does word of mouth leave the customer with enough? Is the sales person covering the concerns of the customer related to your product or service in a way that the customer can relate to and draw comfort from? Is the customer even engaging a sales person when they come to your place of business?
In a large way you are probably missing the opportunity to engage with some, or many, of your customers. Some are interested in buying, but they don’t want to get involved with businesses that don’t care about them. Some just need better information to move them to buy.
There needs to be a smattering of details about your business that lets them know your values and lets them know about the specifics of products. Let them leave with something in their hand. Something to read and contemplate over coffee the next morning. Close the sale quickly if that’s possible, but also give the customer something to learn about you and your team, something to make them feel like they’ve made the right decision to buy from you. Something that will make them come back again and again.
Some of this can be done with paper based information, but more effective will be a digital presentation either from the web, or even on a thumbdrive. Giving the customers more than expected is just plain smart. How can you use these thoughts in your own business?
I confess that I am surprised that so few businesses feel a need to reach out to their customers in a friendly and warm way. There are so many people today who are disappointed with the way that business is conducted, it seems to me that a business that’s personally satisfying, that speaks to the customers values, and their aspirations, is far ahead of its competition for that customers attention, and their wishes to support the business and to buy its products.
It’s especially perplexing because steps to create this positive emotion aren’t all that big a deal economically. It doesn’t need to cost much.
The message ought to remind people that a professional installation is important. That great quality will enhance the overall project with improved appearance and the apparent attention to details. We should drive home the idea that not all installations are equal, and that low price, while desirable for cost control, does not fulfill the client’s requirement for appearance, and for the image that they were initially wishing to convey. A marginal installation nullifies some of that message. Therefore the outcome is a compromise. The client does not achieve their intended goals. Often they give up thinking that it wasn’t possible.
We need to get past the low bid mentality. We need to address the unfulfilled goal mentioned. Our attention should be upon reaching the end user and also the designer. Both are intent upon the outcome and less upon the cost. Cost must be continually addressed, but it ought to maintain its appropriate place in the transaction. Achievement of the design and conceptual goals that first launched the project must supersede that. Only after we have determined that the process will achieve the intended aspirations of the owner can we focus upon the costs. If a cost does not achieve its intended goal, then why bother to expend it?
There hasn’t been a ground swell of interest in my writing and photo business so far. That’s okay with me though. I am just trying to find a good way to use my talents without getting into a big commitment of time or structure in my life. I like the idea of writing and helping some smaller companies to achieve their goals – especially profit goals – but I understand that they are not likely to be looking on the internet for solutions. If I’m going to impact their business I’ll have to get out and sell. To a lot of people that might be off-putting, but I like selling and meeting people. What I am not totally sure about is my own commitment to getting that business. How much business do I want to deal with? I am pretty confident that I can sell the concept and am comfortable with the sales effort, but I do tend to sell to much. Once I start I’m afraid that I’ll feel like lightening up. So I need to get my thoughts straight and a strategy in place. As the title here states: “What Do I Want?”
As I suspected, this website is a sort of touchstone. A place were I can explain my thoughts and perhaps demonstrate some proficiency, but by itself it won’t close deals.
You know… Small business has a nice advantage as compared to the big mega-conglomerate businesses. The small business can stay true to it’s original purpose.
Recently I’ve been watching the big guys: Apple and Volkswagen, just to name two for example, stumbling in various ways. Today the FBI is arresting managers at VW for their deliberate fraud in disabling the emission systems on their diesel engine models for better performance. As regards Apple the harm isn’t that severe, but they’ve wandered from the idea of providing simple solutions. It isn’t easy anymore to use the products they sell. The more complex they make the products, the harder it is to use routinely. Maybe I’ll write something more complete about that another time. The point is that they can’t stop. They have to produce a new something to cause the market to swoon and buy. Success at any cost.
So I have become disillusioned with regard to some of my favorite companies. They just haven’t been able to maintain their personalities as they’ve grown to oversized proportions.
Some of the problem is their need to appease stockholders. Some is because they sell worldwide and have to deal with governments throughout the world. They are required to compromise their values to appease many authorities. But I think that the main issue is the need for growth combined with outsized profit expectations. Continue reading “Business Ethics – Small Business Wins”