The 5 keys to greater success in sales in your business.
This whole selling thing carries so much baggage. Many of us don’t think we’re any good at it, we don’t like it and we don’t think our customers like it much either. The great news is there are some very simple things we can do to free ourselves of all this fear, this baggage and negativity we have about sales, because… Anyone can be truly great at sales.
Small Business Masterminds Foundation webinars and podcasts tackle the key aspects of business all business owners have to face from time to time when developing and growing their business. Focus, Insight, clarity and simple practical steps forward you can take in your business in the week after the webinar to start to build a Fun Business that sustains you for years to come.
Why You Have to Try Online Marketing No Matter How Small Your Business Is
Online marketing is where it’s at and I believe no business, micro, small, medium or large can afford to ignore it anymore.
I know that there are still lots of business owners who haven’t come to terms with it fully, but if you still want to be around in a few years you’d better be online and you’d better be engaged.
In 2015 I would be surprised if I still need to spend energy convincing business owners to have a website, but just having a website is not enough anymore.
I met a web developer the other day at a networking event and he sold websites to small businesses. He told me that: “We create websites for small business and a basic site starts at $750 including design and hosting for a year.” On my questioning he explained that the websites his company sold were mostly what is referred to as static sites. Static sites are essentially brochures put online and once they’re up, they’re actually not that easy to change, they’re designed to be static
I suppose you’d have to say that having a brochure up on the web is better than not having anything at all, but only just. Unless 100% of your new business comes from direct word of mouth (“My favorite aunt told me to give you a call to supply me this widget or do this thing for me, please deliver it to my door tomorrow, I don’t care about the cost or anything else, because i trust anything my favorite aunt tells me”), every business is dependent on being found online and most importantly starting and maintaining a relationship with current and future customers online. And if you want to be able to do that at all, a static website is not going to cut it.
There are a bunch of reasons for that… Here are just a few:
Your customers want to be able to put your business name into their Google maps and get driving directions to your business, directly from their phone
Your customers want to look at testimonials from other people who have engaged with your business
Your customers want to be able to compare your product or services with those of others, directly online
Your customers don’t use the yellow pages anymore
Your customers spend more and more time online on social media of various forms, and they want to interact with business in the places they spend time (BTW that’s why advertising on the walls of urinals in pubs can be so effective… talk to your customers where they hang out!)
The big search engines and social media organisations will not rate websites that are ‘static’ well at all, meaning you will not be found if all you have is a brochure website
Static/ brochure websites start to look dated and sleepy very quickly, you can always tell a brochure website, they’re usually boring.
So what does that mean for you?
It’s hard to be too prescriptive of course, a local carpet cleaning business has different needs than a PR firm in the city, or a restaurant or a manufacturing business that operates nationally or internationally.
But let me give you some of the principles of online engagement and marketing to think about.
Mobile is getting more and more important for everything. More than 50% of searches on Google are done via handheld devices now and that trend is set to continue strongly.
Video is getting more and more important.
People spend time on Social Media, not necessarily to buy stuff. Just like you don’t spend time in the pub to buy anything else besides drinks and food. Anyone who walks up to you in a pub when you are hanging out with your friends to sell you something is generally not welcome
Your customers want to trust you before they will buy from you. Focus on getting them to trust you, and the rest will follow
Your customers will look for you where they are, they will not go looking for you elsewhere if they can help it. So if your customer is on Facebook and he wants an electrician and he can find one directly on Facebook recommended by a friend, they won’t even bother going to Google and find you there.
Scary stuff right? But you know I’ve heard it said that there’s actually nothing new under the sun. In the old days we used to hang across the fence chatting to the neighbours and getting our recommendations and introductions that way, now we hang over the fence at Facebook and do exactly the same.
The analogy isn’t totally accurate because in the old days, your fence didn’t have any pay per click advertising stuck all over it, but it’s not that far off. It’s all about trust and being where the customers are.
And they’re online, all the time.
So you better be talking to them there… don’t you think?
PS: If it’s all too scary… drop me a line and I’ll connect you to the right people to help you get on top of this stuff… you probably shouldnt try and do it all yourself anyway
I bet no one has ever done business with you unless they trusted you at least at some level.
A different level of trust is required to engage with a financial planner than to buy a litre of milk from the corner store, but without trust there is no business.
Well thought-through social media marketing can be a highly effective strategy to build trust but don’t take the lazy route, because you’ll waste your time and your money.
After years of dabbling in Social media marketing myself and putting the odd toe in the water only to pull it out again a little while later I have finally joined the social media marketing world properly or at least more properly than I ever have before.
I’ve taken on a social media and online marketing guru to drag me along kicking and screaming and make me use the various media they way they are meant to be used. (I’m sure she despairs of me often)
The reason I am finally stepping up is that I can see that trust is becoming more and more important and people expect to be given the opportunity to learn to trust a business before they are prepared to spend any money at all. We expect to be referred by friends, we expect to see testimonials from other consumers and we expect to see star-ratings or similar.
The other day a friend of mine asked his community on Facebook if anyone knew a good electrician. (so as not to end up with an electrical situation like on the photo below!!)
Several people chimed in straight away, and my friend was able to ring an electrician who came recommended by 5 separate people more or less instantaneously.
I see this phenomenon happening all the time now. I myself gained a client in a similar manner a few months ago.
In 2014, we are simply not going to spend money with anyone unless and until we trust them.
What that means is that social media marketing campaigns (or any other single channel marketing campaigns) on their own are doomed to failure.
The electrician and Facebook
There are two approaches that work… the first is how the electrician approaches it, a three step approach:
1) Do Great Work: Create incredibly happy customers, Raving Fans (and he does, look him up if you need an electrician in Sydney, David Jones Electrical)
2) Build Community: Build a community on social media. Make sure that you are connected with all your happy past clients and business referral partners.
3) Engage: Build your community by posting stuff that is of interest to you, for no other reason than that you think it’s fun or interesting or useful. When the call comes, you’ll be front of mind… just like the electrician.
Taking this approach consistently means David gets regular new business through Facebook and other media. David is front of mind with any of his past clients whenever anyone mentions the word electrician, anywhere, be that in Facebook or at a dinner party or in a cue at the local supermarket. The friend who asked for an electrician in Facebook was bombarded with testimonials and as a consequence his trust level for David was so high, he didn’t even look for a second quote for his work.
You cannot achieve that kind of result with advertising or with single-track social media posting campaigns. You have to carry out all three of the steps above.
Give away your best stuff
The second approach can work in a more single-track kind of way: It still relies on building trust but in a different way. As I said people will not spend money unless and until they trust you. The other way to build trust therefore is to prove to your customers that you can be trusted, by giving a lot of your stuff away for free… Your best stuff even. The stuff that is worth real money and that is truly useful. If you give people a big bunch of really good free stuff, you will also slowly start to build trust.
But be aware, it can take a long time and you have to be ok with giving away all this stuff.
So my own marketing strategies are now based on a combination of the two approaches. I do great work, I am building a community with my Raving Fans and my referral sources, I engage by sharing stuff I find interesting regularly and I also give away lots of free stuff (my books, my webinars, a lot of my resources and even one-on-one sessions). I even encourage my clients to give away my stuff to others too.
Pay per click
Notwithstanding the increasing focus of the social media giants to monetise their platforms and the fact that it is getting harder and harder to talk to your customers without paying for it in ‘pay per click’ type of advertising, it is still possible to carry out those two marketing strategies for free. It is possible but in in fact it is starting to become unrealistic. The time required to run these types of campaigns mean that you should look into hiring an expert to do it for you, especially if you want to base your trust building strategy around giving away stuff for free.
Hence I engaged my despairing marketing guru.
So when you are thinking about your marketing campaigns, especially your online and social media campaigns, ask yourself how you can best build trust real meaningful trust. and make that the corner stone of all of your strategies and plans.
It’s a wonderful experience when it works … there is nothing more fun than having customers knocking on your door saying they want to buy from you… because they trust you.
It feels great… I promise you.
Do you need more tips, advice or training in Social Media Marketing?
What other support are you most looking for as a business owner. I’d love to know! Let’s have a chat and an obligation-FREE discussion on how I can help you.
What does it take to make a success of your small business… how can you avoid adding to those frightening statistics about failure rates of small business.
In this series of articles and associated webinars and workshops, by Roland Hanekroot you will learn the basic concepts and get the knowledge you need to become a successful ‘Business-Owner’, as opposed to a struggling ‘Business-Doer’.
The format of each episode in the “First Steps” series is to explain the basics of the topic and then in line with the principles of New Perspectives business development programs, to suggest some small simple “First Steps” you can take straight away to put the knowledge into action.
In the second of these articles we’ll look at Your Market and ask:
What, who and where is my market?
Most of us business owners find ourselves in a market by accident. Not many of us start from scratch in a new market. We’ve either taken an existing business over from a previous owner or we’ve started our business doing something that we happen to be particularly good at and hence we’ve already had a couple of clients and a market from day 1.
Consequently we roll along doing more of what we’ve always done. Our recipe for success is our belief in ourselves and a vague notion that we’ll be able to do it better than the other guys, somehow.
The things that don’t set us apart
This situation is equally applicable to someone with a carpentry business, as it is for a mortgage broker, a café or a fashion store. When asked what sets them apart, most business owners will say 3 things:
1) We give great customer service
2) For a great product
3) At a great price.
And I have no doubt that they do, believe that they do, or at least strive to.
There are two problems with these statements though:
1) The three statements are not special enough, they don’t offer enough value (Customers expect good service, good quality and good price from everyone… as a minimum)
2) And most importantly, all your competitors say exactly the same thing.
Who is the cheapest?
If you and your competitors make the same promise, the customer will make a decision on price because it is the easy factor to compare on.
In small business, there is nothing worse than being forced to compete on price, because there is always someone who is prepared to do it cheaper. You cannot build a long-term sustainable small business based around being the cheapest.
Find a tight niche
One of the most effective solutions to this problem is to find a tightly defined niche market that is either not serviced at all or is underserviced.
If you can find a niche market for your product or service that has few or no other business operating in, you can set out to own that niche and dominate it. Dominating a niche is a recipe for building a long-term sustainable business, like no other.
3 Niche questions
There are 3 questions you can ask to help you find such a niche:
1) Who does not currently use my product or service but might?
2) What are all the factors that we and all our competitors already compete on with each other?
3) On which factors are none of us competing?
I am going to work through a couple of examples to demonstrate how to go about finding a niche and stepping into it.
The carpet cleaners
Re question 1: ‘Who does not currently use my product or service, but might?’
Assume you own a carpet cleaning business and your town has heaps of carpet cleaners and they all offer more or less the same thing so that 75% of the inquiries you get from prospective new clients revolves around the question: How much do you charge per room? The question drives you mad, because you are only just making ends meet as it is and having to be the cheapest all the time just isn’t viable.
One day you decide something has to change and together with your wife you start to have a look through your database of clients and jobs from the last 3 years. You are not sure exactly what you are looking for yet, but you hope to find a specific category of client or job that is either more profitable than the rest, or more fun to do, or is easier, or all of the above.
After an exhaustive search over many evenings, your wife mentions that she’s come across a few big 21st birthday party cleanups and an idea starts to form.
21st birthday parties
You decide to create a special offering and expertise in preparation and cleanup before and after big parties. Especially 18ths and 21sts can be massive messy affairs and a lot of anxiety goes along with them. How about offering a package that includes preparing the carpets for a big party with a protective spray application and then coming back the day after the party to do a thorough clean to make the house smell like new again?
A special package like this is actually not offered by anyone in your city and addresses a great need.
John and Mary’s Party Cleaning is born… a unique product and offering at a price level that you can make good profits on and best of all, prospective customers cannot compare on price.
Your business and your life will never be the same again… I guarantee it.
Kelvin’s bike shop
Now lets have a look at the other “niche questions”. This is a story about a different set of circumstances as experienced by Kelvin who owns a bike shop.
This story relates to questions 2 and 3: What factors are you and your competitors already competing on and what factors are you not competing on:
Selling bicycles is not easy because there is a lot of competition from many different sources. There are other bike shops all around the city; there is the ever increasing number of ‘Big Box retailers’ such as Big W and Kmart and the internet is increasingly impacting traditional retail models as well.
Kelvins shop was still doing just ok but the trends were not looking good at all, and pressure on his margins was constant.
Just at this time Kelvin came across a quote from a bikeshop owner in America, Chris Zane: “The only difference between our competitors and ourselves is the service we provide”
The fish pond
Kelvin realised the obvious truth of this statement. There is effectively no difference between the bikes sold by Kelvin or any of his competitors or the pumps or the bike-shoes. Kelvin and his competitors were all fishing in the same pool trying catch exactly the same fish and the number of fish in that pond was diminishing. The only way forward was to create a new pond and attract enough of the fish away from the old pond to be able to enjoy the fishing again.
So Kelvin set about changing his approach to business completely. First Kelvin looked at all the factors he and his competitors fought over (price, range, convenience, friendly service, speed of delivery, connection with major sporting heroes etc)
Then Kelvin looked at what other factors there were that nobody competed on yet.
The insight that Kelvin had was that the greatest opportunity for his business, lay in creating long term customer loyalty through delivering truly extraordinary service, and absolute peace of mind.
Lifetime free stuff
For example, Kelvin implemented a life time free flat tire repair; Kelvin offered ‘no questions asked’ replacement guarantees for any bikes and products sold if you were dissatisfied with the product for whatever reason. Kelvin taught his staff that from now on the word NO was out of bounds and no request was to be rejected.
A couple of years later, Kelvin moved his store to a new location with three times as much space.
Kelvin created his own fishing pond and he was able to dominate it, year after year.
This is the topic we will be talking about at the March Small Business Masterminds ‘live’ workshop as well as the Masterminds online webinar, both on 10 April. If you would like to attend either the webinar or the workshop, go to http://smallbusinessmasterminds.com.au
Take the first steps:
As mentioned in the opening paragraphs of this article, I will suggest some “First Steps” actions you can take right away, that will get you started on implementing the topics and principles we discuss: The resources page is here: http://tiny.cc/marketlpage
Roland Hanekroot is a business coach who works with Small business owners to help them have more Fun in their businesses and build businesses that sustain them for years to come. Roland is also the author of “The Ten Truths books for Business owners” (more about the books here: http://thetentruths.com.au)
Every month Roland Hanekroot runs a business development workshop as well as a webinar called “The Small Business Masterminds” more information here and to register for the next webinar or workshop, follow this link: http://smallbusinessmasterminds.com.au/ The first time is free.