“What makes you unique, Lisa?”
Wow! That was the subject line of an email I received this morning. The email was from a company who wanted to sell me items to help promote my branding and in terms of email marketing; they did a great job of getting my attention early on a Monday morning.
But if you step away from their intent and really look at the question they formatted, it makes one stop and think. What does make us or our business unique? How do we stand out from the “competition”? Why should someone hire us?
In this world of “sell, sell, sell… buy, buy, buy”, small business owners often feel like they are in a never-ending, marketing spiral. They spend huge amounts of money and time trying to sell their product or their services. Do we really need to be “selling”?
Take 5 minutes right now to jot down what makes you and your business unique. Maybe it’s your quick response time… maybe it’s your incredible customer service… maybe it’s that you do exactly what you promised and your customers never need to second-guess you. Whatever comes to mind, jot it down. Now build on those notes. Write down complete sentences about “What makes you and your company unique”.
Those are the points you need to share with your customers. Notice I did not write “Sell to your customers” but rather “Share”. Add those statements about your uniqueness to your marketing materials, and your email newsletters. When a potential client asks “Why should I hire you?”, tell them. Let your customers and potential customers know what makes you unique and how that uniqueness positively affects them. Show them your “uniqueness” when interacting with them on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. You don’t need to “sell” – just “share”. In your marketing efforts, share your uniqueness.
“What makes you unique?”
When you read that title, did you think “What? Apparently Lisa has lost her mind! How can you run away and build your business?”
That’s exactly what I did this week.
Now, I am not talking about running away for good, but rather leaving your “normal” surroundings to get away from all the distractions of daily life and to have the opportunity to take a really good look at your business. What have you been wanting to implement? What is working well? What needs to be tweaked? What do you need to launch?
This last week, I packed up two crates of files and books and drove south seven hours to St. Louis. I have been staying with extended family members who were gracious enough to accept my conditions… a bed, wireless access, and no obligations. They have let me come and go as I please and expect nothing of my visit. God bless them for that! (Oh! And the food they have been feeding me has been amazing!)
As a result, I have spent the last week focusing on my business. I have been implementing some strategies that I have wanted to implement for a year but have not had time to. I have been reworking some of my social media accounts. I have been updating my website. I’ve been doing all the tasks that I do for my clients, but never seem to get around to for myself. It has been wonderful.
Now before you start telling yourself all of the reasons you can’t pack up and go – STOP! I know… there’s not enough time, who would run the business while you’re gone, you can’t afford to go. Really? I say you can’t afford NOT to go.
I own a business and I am my only employee. I have three children under the age of 13. I am the leader of two Girl Scout troops and a networking group. I sit on a non-profit board. I understand how hard it is to walk away. I had to juggle schedules until this trip worked. I had to make sure all the laundry was done, the school schedules were light, ensure there were no meetings I would miss, and more. I say this not to “toot my own horn”, but rather to say “I get it”.
I know it’s hard to “run away”. But you would be amazed at what you can accomplish when you walk away from your “everyday” and focus on your future.
To your continued success…
Today my daughter’s class went on a field trip to the pumpkin farm. It was an absolutely beautiful day filled with blue skies and amazing fall foliage.
Once the field trip was over and I was back in my office, I reflected on our experiences at the pumpkin farm. Then it hit me that when the kids were picking their pumpkins, their interactions with the parents were a lot like our interactions with our clients. (stay with me on this one!)
When it came time to go out into the field and pick their pumpkins, I noticed something interesting. We had a lot of parents chaperoning this trip and there seemed to be three types of parents:
- The Choosers - These parents took their child out into the field and said “Here, pick this one”, and the child would do as they were told. I’m not sure whether the child actually wanted that pumpkin, but the parent had pointed it out, so that must be the right one.
- The Guiders - These parents took their child out into the field and asked the child what they were looking for. “Do you want an orange pumpkin?” “Do you want a big stem or a skinny stem?” They then took that information and helped guide their child to the appropriate pumpkin.
- The Watchers - These parents took their child out into the field and stayed back, watching their child pick out the “perfect” pumpkin – the one they loved over all the others. Their child knew exactly what they were looking for in a pumpkin and the parents just had to wait and see.
So what does all of this have to do with our customers and clients? Some business owners and entrepreneurs are like “The Choosers”. They tell their clients what they need, how much they need, and what they should do. They don’t wait to listen to their clients but rather tell them what to do.
Our clients, however, do not want to be “railroaded” into a decision. They need us to listen and to learn about their needs. Some of them need a “Watcher”… someone who will take the time to listen and follow through on their needs and wants. These clients know exactly what they want and they need to know whether or not you can deliver.
Many clients need “The Guider”. In general, they have an idea where they want to end up (having the perfect pumpkin), but they don’t really know how to get there. They need guidance and direction, and someone who is willing to listen to their needs and wants.
So, if you were in the pumpkin field, what type of parent (business person) would you be? Take the time to listen to your customers. Guide them if necessary, but don’t make all the decisions for them before you even know what they want.
Happy Pumpkin Picking!
Please join us for the Grand Opening of Today’s Virtual Edge, a virtual assistant company based in Port Washington, WI. This will be both a Live and Virtual Event.
For those wishing to attend the Live Event, the Grand Opening will be held at Vines to Cellar at 114 E. Main St. in Port Washington. The Open House will be from 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm with the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at 5:30pm. Light appetizers will be served. There will also be door prizes as well as a gift bag for each attendee. Please RSVP to email@example.com if you plan to attend the Live Event.
For those wishing to attend the concurrent Virtual Event, you can watch via our Live Feed at http://tinychat.com/todaysvirtualedge.
We’re looking forward to seeing you there!
I had a new client contact me last week asking if I could help her with that new, all important phrase – Social Media (i.e. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc).
Now for those of you out there who hear the words Social Media and start shaking your head, don’t worry – this is not going to be an article filled with tech jargon. In fact, this client needs help with the most basic part of Social Media and I would argue the most important part. What is that? Building your list.
Whether you have the most impressive looking Facebook page or the best “Tweets” (comments on Twitter) out there, NONE of that matters if no one is listening. You are talking to yourself and that will not build your business.
Instead, work on your list. Find the people you want listening to you. It’s not hard, but it will take time. That is actually why my client hired me. She has requested that I find the “right” people on Twitter to follow and invite the “right” people to follow her. Who are the right people? The ones who will help to actively build her business.
If you don’t have time to build your list or hate doing research, then outsource it. Connect with one of those uniquely created people who love to sit at their computer and do research (otherwise known as Virtual Assistants).
What can you outsource? Virtually anything.
- Finding new people to follow and people to follow you.
- Creating an amazing backdrop for your Twitter profile page.
- Finding new friends and/or fans.
- Creating a unique Fan page for your business.
- Pumping up your profile.
- Finding new people to invite to follow you on LinkedIn.
- Finding the “right” groups to belong to.
- Finding the “right” answers to respond to in the Q&A section.
If you want to participate in social media, all of these items are important. Can you do them on your own? Absolutely. However, if you don’t have the time, or don’t know where to start, or you need your lists compiled quickly, then I highly recommend outsourcing it. Think of Social Media as a whole new way to network and get referrals and how that can help to grow your business.
To your continued success…
Package deals or piece-meal service plans… what is the best solution? Well, it depends.
You know that your customers’ needs are unique. Each customer is different. No matter what type of business you run, there will be two main types of customers whose needs you need to address.
Think of it this way… what kind of clothes shopper are you? Are you the type of person who can pick up two or three items of clothing and magically make them into the most amazing outfit you have ever seen? Or are you a “mannequin shopper”? If the outfit and accessories are not already put together and on a mannequin, you have no ability to envision those items working together and will pass by the most amazing pieces of clothing, simply because you don’t know how to put them together.
Your customers are the same way. Whether you work in the corporate world, retail markets or own a service business you will run into this scenario. You will have customers who come to you knowing exactly what they want. They will know which of your services they want and which they do not need. You won’t be able to “sell” them anything else, because their mind is set. Then there are the other customers… the ones who have no idea what they need or how to put together the best services for their business. These are the customers who need the “package deal”. Does your company have one? If not, you are missing out on a huge portion of your market.
Take a look at your website. Do you offer packages for your clients in addition to your a la carte services? If not, you need to quickly change that. You don’t want to be turning away potential clients without even realizing it.
Whether you are a “mannequin shopper” or can fling together the best outfit in the world, think of your customers and their varied needs. Offer services for both ends of the spectrum and your business will continue to grow.