It’s rare to find yourself as the only game in town. If you look around I’ll bet you see competitors that have encroached on your marketplace. In fact, with the advent of the Internet, your competitor may no longer just be the guy down the street; but now it’s the guy six timezones away. And you’re likely already competing on price, which is a no-win situation… at some point you have to stop cutting into your margins, and you can’t always reduce costs or improve processes. So when that’s the case, what do you do to still win in the ever-growing competitive market?
A few basic tips you can implement will go a long way to stemming the tide of market encroachment and sales turnover:
Make it Easier to Use – if you have a product, a portal, or a service, make it as easy as possible to use. If a customer can figure out how to use your uber-cool-thing-a-ma-jig in two seconds rather than two hours, you’ve got the edge.
But remember – you’re not the test market nor are you the typical client. Just because it’s easy for you to use or implement or export reports out of doesn’t mean it’ll be easy for the common user. Think about who will be using your product and services, find a tester, and get honest feedback. Another hint – don’t ask your best friend to be the tester – it’s not likely he’ll be honest with his feedback.
Have Better Customer Service – yea, I know this seems like a no brainer. But many companies don’t really care about the customer after the sale. Customer service has short hours or 37 steps to get through the phone tree. Your website doesn’t have an easy place for feedback or questions. Do your front desk people smile and greet visitors? Do you respond to complaints quickly (or at all?).
I recently worked at a company where it took more than 24 hours to reply to a very angry voicemail from a major client – and it was our fault! No one really knew what to do with this complaint, so they simply ignored it. In fact when I called the client to get things resolved, his biggest complaint was that we “ignored” his calls and email – not even a response acknowledging his concern. No wonder it escalated to my desk! We all learned a lot that day.
Web enable everything – Yes you have a website – everyone does, right? But that’s not enough! Do your services translate to the web? Do clients have a way of finding you on their smartphone or tablet? Being where your customers are is critical for your long-term success. Allow clients to learn and interact with your via the web. Allow them to have access to your site on their smart device. Make sure you have things like SEO enabled, and that you’re pushing out content that feeds visitors back to your website. And tell stories – use video as a means of explaining who you are and what you do – clients love that and it will separate your from the competition.
But don’t build it yourself. And don’t produce your own video. And don’t design your own graphics. You readily outsource building construction to someone who’s an expert, right? Do the same with your website, and your video, and your marketing pieces. Contrary to popular belief, not everyone is a marketing expert. Find a partner to help you in this area.
I’ve always found that it’s easiest to compete and win if you have references and a strong reputation. You can usually lose both of these quickly if you skip these three easy-to-implement steps. But this is just a very short list of many ways you can separate yourself. In fact, I bet many of you have ideas you’d like to share. Post them below in the comments, and we’ll be sure to share them with our readership.
And if you need help with any of these items, give us a shout – we’d love to see if we can help you gain and retain your market share with our best practices and creative solutions.