Why be the same when you can be different?
I met with a fabulous independent business owner a couple of weeks ago. This entrepreneur was feeling threatened by their (much larger) competitors, who were typically chains or franchises with deeper pockets, bigger voices and more resources to plough into marketing. And unsurprisingly, my client was feeling the pressure to fit in with what the competition was doing, yet felt they could never measure up. In an effort to fit in, their branding and website looked exactly the same as everyone else's in their industry. That's mistake number one. Why would you be the same when you can be different?
On the whole, people who buy from independent businesses make a very conscious decision to do so. They love the individual approach, the fact that the people who run them are nimble and able to react quickly rather than being stuck to a rigid framework set out by the ominous Head Office. So why on earth try to look like a big corporate chain when you're a family run independent business?
Celebrating your strengths and turning your back on your weaknesses
So you're not a household brand name? You don't have a 6-figure marketing budget? Don't fret! As independant business owners, we do a different dance from the big boys. We pride ourselves on our ability to accommodate our clients requirements', and the relationships we build along the way. We love the freedom of not having to work within a parameter determined by someone else, and the ability to go the extra mile for the people who really value what we do. Put yourself in your clients' shoes: doesn't all of this sound like a pretty attractive proposition?
Turning perceived threats into very definite selling points
First of all, it's essential to remember that you simply cannot be all things to all people. Those who love to buy from big, well known names may not ever represent a good client to you - their values are probably out of synch with yours, and working with them will be tricky. The ones who value doing business with someone who has the prestige of owning scores of offices across the country is going to be a tough win for those of us who operate from a single location away from the glitz and glamour of the big cities. But that's ok. I highly recommend taking some time to ask your clients why they chose you. I'll be it's because they heard great things about you, or love the fact you're able to do things a little differently to fit in around them.
Sell the benefits
Remember that sales course you attended ages ago, that gabbed on about selling benefits rather than features? They were right. Tell your client why buying from an independent is a good idea. Educate them on what you can offer that the big boys can't, and why that matters to them. Give them a good reason to buy from you rather than your competitor. It'll make all the difference.