Don’t blend in.
In the sea of business enterprise it can often feel like you are blending into a pale grey. There are very few of us running one-of-a-kind businesses. We have many competitors. Everyone is trying to make a few thousand (hopefully million) dollars with their product or services. Just like walking down the street in a Siem Reap (Cambodia) the other day – every Tuk Tuk driver is scrambling to get their next job while offering the same thing. Most of the stalls in the markets are selling almost identical items. I had to laugh when I saw a T-shirt that said “same, same”. It pretty much sums it up!
When you stumble across that one stall, that one driver, that one product that has been carefully considered, offered with quality and pride, and is slightly different to the rest, it really stands out. It draws your attention and causes a response in me, as a consumer, that none of the other businesses in the sea of bland do – amazement, respect and a desire to engage (and purchase!)
Third world countries have their own challenges and mindsets about business. But even in our first world businesses, we are following a similar pattern. We copy the ideas of the people around us and can often settle into a monotonous ho-hum kind of notion with the day-to-day running of our business, and very quickly we just become “same-same”.
There are some incredibly easy ways to help your business rise above the rest. It takes a little effort, and a moment of your time to stop and consider how you can refine what you are already doing. Here’s four to think about:
1. Amazing customer service – warm, friendly and genuine
As per a Walker study, in the year 2020, 86% of customers will pay more for a better customer experience. It will overtake product and price.
No matter what innovation is just around the corner, and no matter what technology you have at your fingertips, outstanding customer service will always be the one thing that sets your business apart from your competitors. It puzzles me how this is often a element that is lacking in most businesses who are struggling to move forward, and yet it is such a simple practise to adhere to. You don’t need to go to hospitality college to know how to treat a customer well. Common sense goes a long way here.
Return phone calls and emails as promptly as possible.
Speak well and with manners.
Consider the needs of your customer and go above and beyond to deliver what they require as far as is humanly possible.
When you cannot deliver, be honest and explain yourself clearly.
Listen to complaints and strive to rectify the issue, fast.
The main principle here is treat your customer how you would want to be treated, and then some. A principle of going “above and beyond” is a sure way to keep your customers coming back for more. And in-between visits they will do your marketing for you – raving to all of their friends and family.
2. Consistent brand presence for each customer touch point
Brands with more digital touch points are more likely to be selected by consumers – econsultancy
In the world of digital, it is easy to overlook this key principle in marketing your business. When a customer decides to engage your product or service, statistically they have encountered your business up to 58 times before making the decision.
Customer touch points are the points along the buyer journey (which can begin up to 12 months before actually making a purchase) where they come across your product or service. This could be through a number of mediums, sources or platforms – such as word of mouth referral, seeing or researching your brand on social media, seeing an advert either online or offline, receiving a special offer via an email, or witnessing your business in the marketplace.
It is important that each time your prospect encounters your business they are getting the same message. This message needs to be one that is highly professional, uses the same language, is marketed to the right segment, and appears to “look” the same across every platform. This includes logos, images, descriptions, contact details, hours of operation, target market impressions, and so on. (eg if your property is perfect for families, does everything you put out there show this?). Just a side note here – have you updated your Facebook page operating hours lately?
3. Marketing yourself in a way that is honest. Do your best with what you have.
I have worked extensively with the tourism/hospitality industry and one thing that I have witnessed (as well as on my travels) is properties who are 3 stars trying to market themselves as 5 star. There are two massive issues with this. Firstly, the customer will be drawn in thinking they are going to receive a higher standard of service and quality of product. This expectation will disappoint and leave a bad impression (and probably a bad review).
The other issue is that you, as a business owner, will end up consistently frustrated that you have customers who are always demanding so much from you that is outside of your reach. Market yourself honestly. Take up-to-date photos! Be the very best 3 star you can be. Do the absolute best with what you have and market to the people who are going to appreciate your amazing 3 star business. You can still offer 5 star customer service, right?
This doesn’t just apply to accommodation – a lot of businesses misunderstand where they sit in the market place. Knowing where you fit is important to refining your business, communicating effectively to the right audience and helping it to have a competitive advantage.
4. Final impressions are just as important as first impressions
It costs five times as much to attract a new customer, than to keep an existing one – Invespcro
Most business owners understand the importance of making a good first impression. It is essential in the first step of a sales process to hook your customer and wow them. Following that, the process by which you draw them in comes back to the consistency of your business marketing during the customer journey.
Often overlooked, however, is the last impression you give to your customer as they are walking out the door. This is a massive misdemeanour on your part as shows you have disregarded the opportunity for return custom. What you do at that very last point of contact with the customer will determine three things:
How well they remember your business for days, months and years after their experience with you
Whether they will return to your business/website again, and continue to engage with your business through social media, email marketing etc.
What they will say about your business upon returning home from your store, property, or after they have logged out of your ecommerce site.
Customer acquisition is often a much greater cost for your business than customer retention. Leave a lasting memory. Wow them on the way in and then overwhelm them on the way out. Simple yet powerful.