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’ve become a little more fired up about this part of my business lately. I seem to go in waves. Until recent I’ve been writing in my two books that are in progress and that ought to be published yet this year. I think that I get a little burned out on any one subject after thinking about it for too long. Sometimes the subjects need to simmer in my subconscious for a while, then I’m ready to get back to them and move the story along. For that reason I need a few things going at the same time when they involve multi-week commitments of my time.
Working on this website and the ideas that I postulate here is a little different. The ideas are more succinct and the businesses involved don’t have stories that go on for hundreds of pages. So focusing on these considerations can be intense and through without wearing a hole in my mind.
I particularly like to postulate a thought and then to explore it. To meditate about the various ways that a method can be used to move the business forward in term of communications with the customer base. And better, to introduce thinking to that group of people about an improvement in their way of life or a way to think about aspirations and how those aspirations can be addressed through doing business.
Whatever is postulated for the customer to reflect upon, it brings them closer to you, and that’s what you want. That tends to close out other businesses and create a closed loop for your own business to thrive within. It’s good stuff to think about over a cup of coffee.
Business owners and managers often make the mistake of seeking an ideal marketing or advertisement plan that is unrealistic for their business because of cost or complexity.
Sometimes simple ideas, simple repetition of basic principled efforts work best.
So what foundation does your business have? Usually there are certain things about the business that are known and appreciated; dependability for example.
What do potential customers think of your business? Do they even know that you exist at the moment? Do they have a sense of what you stand for? Your principles and your intentions? What have you told them? What can they see?
What can be changed to create a better image, more visibility, and a better understanding of the positive attributes of the products and services you offer?
Think about it. Make notes and discuss the ideas with your associates. What you think is basic and well understood about your business may not register with the customers. They need to be told about it and then told again another time and in a different manner. It’s your job to make these concepts, ideas, and principles clear.
Recently I have been contemplating the use of a few of my proposals and the various images that I captured and used to promote additional sales. I hesitate only because what I was promoting was slightly different from what many small business owners are selling. My business was in commercial contracting, and I specialized in decorative stone, granite, terrazzo, and ceramic tile. Our promotions were directed at large scale developers, owners agents for government agencies, and construction managers on a regional scale (multi-state).
I will try to post a couple of these and see if I can walk through the thinking and also why I think that there are lessons within those efforts that scale to smaller businesses and businesses that are vastly different then this.
It seemed important to create this post as a prequel to what’s to come. I’d like to emphasis that we should be looking at how to take ideas from these proposals, rather than over-think the particulars of that singular business model.
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 are a lot of opportunities to share information with your client base that will help the customer to get to know your organization better. My role is to fulfill that information sharing in some of those instances. My purpose is to bridge indifference and to get the customer thinking positively about you and your firm.
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.
A highly polished marketing plan is wonderful – if it is affordable. What matters most though is getting the story of your business out there. Tell the customers who you are and what you hope to accomplish. Be sincere and comfortable with those who you hope to reach. Touch their hearts as well as their minds if possible.
Just to be clear: My purpose is to develop content that is pointed at your customers, and that expresses your thoughts and feelings about business with them. The idea is to develop a story. To create a sensation of who you are and why a customer might want to do business with you, as compared to another business selling similar services or products.
It isn’t only a craft, there is art involved in this process, and also there is a sort of grittiness that’s needed to keep drumming the same ideas, and the same development of emotions, to influence your customers.
You need exposure, but in the best possible posture and light.