When being the odd one out, is the one you want to be
When growing up, we do our utmost to fit in. To be part of the crowd. We go all out to be the same as everyone else.
And then we realise that fitting in is the same as going unnoticed. In business, it’s imperative to get noticed, and to stand out from your competitors.
You don’t always have to offer a service or a product that nobody else is offering –a niche market can be a difficult one to earn a living from. If you’ve got what other’s need, it’s all about doing it exceptionally well, even if there are a multitude of competitors providing a similar service. Make sure you’re doing what you’re doing exceptionally well, so that your customers will come back for more.
It goes without saying that if your service is mediocre, customers’ loyalty will be easily swayed. If your product or service is available cheaper | faster | better (delete whichever is not applicable), your customers will drop you like a hot cake and become your competitor’s best friend. Offer a memorable service and you’ll have repeat customers a-plenty.
Know your customer. As in, know their name, their preferences, and how often they usually buy from you. Greeting your regulars by name is Manners 101, and knowing which of your products or services they usually buy allows you the opportunity of up-selling - if you start stocking something similar or an additional colour of their favourite product, or you’ve gained an extra skill in a set your client regularly uses, these customers should be the first to know about it. It’s easier for a client to use a reliable and regular supplier for additional services, than to find a new supplier for an extra service. If you can do it or if you’ve started selling it, make sure your customers know about it.
Knowing their buying cycle will also allow you to see at a glance if your customer hasn’t purchased from you in their usual timeframe, enabling you to take action and get in touch with them. If your customer starts using a competitor and you don’t even realise it, they’ll probably feel justified in moving to greener pastures, and won’t give you a backward look.
If you have a CRM system, use it. It’ll help you stay on top of what’s important to your customers. Sending your customer a personal birthday also won’t go amiss. Everyone likes to feel loved!
Start how you mean to continue. If you begin your client relationship offering all the bells and whistles, and within a few months what you’re delivering barely resembles what you first supplied, your customer is likely to check out how your competitors are doing things, and they might like it! Make sure that what you initially promised is at least what you’re still delivering, a year, two or even three down the line. Your customers gave you the business because they liked what you offered, so don’t fall into the trap of taking them for granted and letting your service slide. Every relationship needs to be nurtured – even business ones!
Get up in their grill
Schedule regular meetings with your customers. You can’t put a price on face time. Sitting across the table from your client will often spark discussion about additional services or products you could offer them. It also encourages a strong relationship which engenders loyalty and support. Consistent meetings also ensures that you’re on track with your client’s expectations and allows for easier future action planning.
You don’t need to be the only person or company doing what you’re doing. Be good at it. Be special. Don’t fit in when you can stand out!