One of the biggest myths in small business marketing is that you have to spend alot of money in advertising. While there should be room in your marketing budget for appropriate ad buys, probably the #1 key to small business marketing success is this:
Be Different Than Everyone Else!
One of my favorite workshop topics is the one that we offer on “Differentiate and Dominate.” This idea is adapted from the Duct Tape Marketing system for small business, one of America’s most popular small business marketing programs. John Jantsch, creator and founder of Duct Tape Marketing, makes this pointed observation:
If your prospect can’t identify some specific way in which your firm is unique, they will default to the only thing they can measure – PRICE. Offering to simply exchange what you sell for a set price in return is one of the weakest marketing offers you can create. Price is a terrible place to compete. There will always be someone willing to go out of business faster than you.
Heard these before: “We have great customer service.” “We offer the best deals in town.” “We love our customers.” “Best product. Best price.” “We offer flexible financing.” “We have the best selection in town.” These are claims that just about every small business loves to make, yet what does it really tell about you? When your customer is skimming the weekend paper, combing through the various hits on their Google search, or (to a lessening degree) looking through the barrage of Yellow Page ads in your industry – what sets you apart?
Drawing from some of Jantsch’s ideas, here’s how you can differentiate and dominate:
Product – Can you offer a product that is so unique or even trendy that your business is associated with that offering? If you sell gardening tools, and competitors sell the same gardening tools, then customers will naturally goes to whoever sells it the cheapest. Can you create or offer a unique product? Could you be the only carrier for a certain brand? Be known for the only place to buy this product.
Market Niche – Carve out an industry or two and become the most dominant player serving that industry. A really nice bonus to this approach is you can usually raise your prices dramatically when you specialize in this manner. It’s natural to think that we must broaden our delivery to capture the most results (we often think in terms of ROI and percentages, “if we send out 1,000 flyers, we anticipate 2% return.”) There’s wisdom in narrowing your niche and sending out fewer flyers and actually increasing your return!
Offer – Can you become known by an outstanding offer you make? Be the accountant who offers his tax preparation clients a 100% refund on their preparation fee when they refer four new clients. Be known as the 100% refund tax guys.
Solve a Problem – Is there something that prospects in your market fear or seem to believe is universal for what you do? If so, focus on communicating how you have the answer. Wouldn’t you at least check out a dentist who offered “pain free dentistry”? Of course, this is a not a place for cheap gimmicks or lies just to get people in the door. Deliver on what you say.
Unique habit – I heard of a financial planner who has his clients car detailed right out in his parking lot when they come in for their annual review. They can’t help but rave to their friends about this unique touch.
Guarantee – Can you offer a guarantee so strong that no one else in your industry would dream of doing it. This one frightens some people but, you probably guarantee your work anyway, you just don’t say so. Come out and boldly announce that you guarantee results and watch what happens! It naturally raises your own accountability as well – makes you work harder for the customer.
Customer Service – Create your own over-the-top customer response system and word of mouth advertising will flow liberally. One of the greatest ways to kick this off is to over deliver on your first customer contact. Give them something more than you promised, give them a gift, give them a related service for free. Or do something no one else is doing. Or hark back to “the way things used to be” and delivery in service what people remember their parents talking about. I’m not sure there is a more powerful tool for creating natural referrals than to offer great customer service.
If you don’t already know what your points of differentiation are, then it’s time to STOP and discover them.
If you already know them, but suspect your customers may not, then focus much of your marketing around them.
If you need help in understanding how to stand out and compete on more than just price, the Marketing Twins are equipped to help you! We are the only faith-based creative team in Fort Worth affiliated with Duct Tape Marketing. We affordable affordable marketing coaching programs ideal for businesses wanting to differentiate and dominate! Contact us before another prospect compares your prices to the other guy!
UPDATE: Seth Godin: “The cheap guy, of course, never wins.”
* Don’t forget your opportunity to attend either one of two FREE marketing workshops THIS WEEK !