As technology makes the marketplace even smaller, consumers are spoilt for choice with so many providers to go to for everything they can possibly need. So how do you cut through the clutter? How do you win?
Here a 5 easy ways to stay and win the race:
- Be fearless
As a small business owner, your businesses success is do or die. This can often make you more cautious about making mistakes or trying new things. The problem with the cautious approach is you will find that you look and sound the same as most of your competitors (and sell a similar product). Consumers aren’t looking for more of the same, they are looking for what sets you apart. They are looking for the kind of brands that aren’t afraid to chart their own path. In every area of your business, don’t be afraid of the calculated risk.
Look at a company like FNB, operating in a very traditional financial services sector. What has endeared FNB to South Africans are for instance @rbjacobs the ‘FNB guy’ they changed the way they spoke to consumers to make their brand feel like the guy you can grab a drink with after work, and they won. This is not to say that you need to do the same thing, but you do need to go boldly in the direction that sets your business apart.
2. Be real
Consumers love authenticity – this has been spoken about in a million blogs and seen in every market. As a small business you have an additional edge that may established companies don’t have, you can speak to your customers face to face and develop relationships. The reason customers come back is less to do with the product and more to do with the people. As the world moves towards more virtual interaction this doesn’t mean throwing out everything we know about traditional marketing. Be open, engaging and honest with customers when they walk in your store. Knowing someone’s name and asking after their kids still goes a long way.
3. If you don’t know, ask
Contrary to popular belief, most people (especially other business owners) want you to succeed. Getting a mentor or a peer you can talk to is absolutely critical to business success. If you are having problems or you don’t know the answer to some business issue, find someone who might have the answer and ask the question. The people who succeed are the people who are constantly learning and evolving – lean into what you don’t know.
4. Know your value
Knowing what consumers want is important, but knowing what you have to offer is equally important. Many businesses find themselves constantly changing and revamping their business as they think consumer needs are changing. You need to be congniscant of consumer trends but also stay consistent about the things that are the core of your business.
Your coffee cart services an office park and you begin to see that your customers are also hungry, it is a smart move to perhaps add some sandwiches to your offering but this doesn’t mean you need to stop selling coffee, because this just means they will have to go out and buy some (and most likely buy a sandwich there while they are at it). This might seem a simple example, but apply it to every business decision you make. Know your worth.
5. Charge what its worth
As competition increases to an all time high, businesses find themselves cutting costs to compete with other businesses. We suggest that the key isn’t cutting your costs but increasing your value. Its not that consumers are looking for what is cheapest but rather what is most economical. For example, you can spend the R10 000 on an iPhone or you can buy another phone for R 1 000 but the experience, longevity and add ons will be completely different. Cheaper phones does not mean Apple has lowered their prices, merely upped the value and the appeal of their products.
Overall, a buyers market is really about selling smart – start today.