In my recent work with clients, we’ve been delving more into the “soft side” of business. Truth be told, though technology can be the #1 resource to drive business growth, it is important to note that technical knowledge is not nearly as important as the message and impressions you communicate to your audience. These days, those that feel that a better product or anything production-related (or even technical) gives them an edge are probably struggling to turn any sort of profit.
Seeing so many misconceptions amongst the many business owners I have worked with, I figured I would compile a simple list of topics to be further in my future blogging and perhaps future books. Here we go: a list for establishing a better business for yourself, or your clients…
- The truth about sharks.
It is true that being a shark is the only way to survive in business but the misconception here is that
aggressive sales tactics are the only way to convince people to buy your product or service. Being a shark is about building momentum, not harassing potential customers or buyers.
- Common sense is not common. Many times you hear the response “well, that’s just common sense” but the simple fact of the matter is that there is no common sense because there is no universal frame of reference or school of thought. Everyone has their own biases, including recent experiences, for instance, that influence how they perceive your business ultimately.
- The timing trap. The temptation when engaging in any project is to delay things until the time is right or things are perfect. This is the worst thing you can do as you may miss out on the early adapter edge. It’s also important to note that there is no perfect engine; marketing is always your edge.
- The expert’s diminishing value. Many businesses offer the promise of “expert service” but this is yet again one of those many empty statements that say all of nothing. Truth be told, customers consistently choose brand over expertise. The fight is not for the best quality or strongest production value, it’s for creating the clearest message, the one that people remember and feel presents the least risk. Expert advice usually just says “I’m pretentious” or “I’m very expensive”.
- Different is better. With many providers doing more of the same, it seems that the marketplace is just filled with better mousetraps. You hear many talks about finding niche markets and this is half correct. There is no untapped market per se, but there’s always a different angle to take, so don’t be afraid to ignore the trends and patterns in your industry as that may be the way you secure your own market share.
- Fanatical focus. Fanatical focus goes hand-in-hand with the shark principle. The premise of fanatical focus is that you keep yourself specialized rather than giving off the jack-of-all-trades impression. This does not mean that your service offerings must be limited but, rather, that your market appeal should be specific, rather than trying to please everyone and really not speaking out to anyone specifically. Generalized messages don’t have much of an outreach at all.
- Brand power. Strong brands win business. Everyone knows this just by looking at Microsoft, Apple, IBM, and other big names. There are other options but people go with the strong brands because, even if they are flawed, they feel that there are less variables, less risk, going with something widely-accepted and reknown.
- Cheaper is NOT an advantage. A big misconception is that value positioning is the best strategy for new and small businesses. The fact of the matter that pricing, just like production excellence, can always be matched, if not improved, so this is not a strong position to look for. The reality is that people will overspend if they feel the brand exudes “quality” or at least less fuss. This does not mean that you should overprice your products or services but it does mean that going with a low price model only tends to communicate “their service must not be very good”. Even worse, pricing to be in the middle gets you even more trapped by telling customers “they’re not very good nor is their price the best”. Stick with a price model on either side of the spectrum but get ready to get beat out on price of you make that your [only] unique advantage.
- The many faces of value. When one thinks of value, we think of more bang for the buck, which is generally favorable. As I mentioned already, do not be tricked into thinking that pricing for “easy entry” is the best approach. Value can be added by bundling services, going above the call of the duty, and providing unique services and products. Many times there is not a real need for a product or service but the urgency is created through smart marketing. This is not an easy act to follow but Apple did it by taking advantage of a relatively quiet MP3 player market.
- Negative campaigning. I personally feel that negative campaigning is not as great as many claim it is. It often backfires for a few reasons but, mainly, because the negative campaigning only rehashes things that are clearly already out in the open. Repeating your message is great for emphasis but not if others are already incessantly doing the same. Kicking dirt in the face of your competition may actually drive customers to go explore the competition more. In fact, it’s been proven that it is better for a company to have pervasive marketing even if it is negative, simply because it plays upon the rule of recency; that is, things that are recent in memory are often the things will turn to later on. Interestingly enough, people will remember a brand before they remember the stories they heard attached to them at some point.
Clearly, the list can go on forever but, for the sake of keeping this as concise as possible, I will end this list right there. Stay tuned for further ellaboration and nuggets of knowledge. By all means, if there is a certain area that interests you more, let me know – I’d love to hear what has appealed to you most!