With only 50% of startups surviving the first four years of business, you are in a critical stage of your business’s life. It is essential that you make good business decisions from the start so that you have strong foundations on which to establish and grow your business. Businesses fail for many reasons, but lack of differentiation from your competition is typically high on the list.
Standing out from the crowd is vital. You need to make sure that your business is clearly defined from your competition. Why would people want to choose to give you their hard-earned cash? What makes doing business with you preferable to someone else? You may sell or provide the same products or services, after all. The temptation is to make your business appeal to everyone; however, not everyone wants or will ever need your products, and you only need to attract the people that are likely to buy from you.
Know Who Your Customers Are
As a startup business, you will have spent hours and hours sourcing the products or refining the services that you are going to offer. You will have put together a business plan detailing your business goals, the objectives you need to meet to reach them, how many units you must sell to break even, how many to make a profit and how much budget you have for marketing and advertising – these are the bare bones of a startup.
However, many entrepreneurs fail to consider in any great detail who they are selling to, and yet without identifying who your target customers are, how can you make the best decisions for your business?
You must never assume that you know who your target customers are without undertaking some thorough research, as often the reality is quite different to your preconceived ideas. The internet is the most valuable tool that you have to help you identify who your target customers are. You can search for similar businesses and concepts and see who makes up their client base.
Speak to friends and family, or anyone within your network that you can explain your business to. Listen to their feedback, the positive and the negative, and recommendations; you don’t have to act on them, but it will give you an indication of how your products or services will be received by a wider audience.
Before you launch your new business, test out your concept to see how it will be received. You don’t need to try and bait customers at this stage, it is purely to test that you have pitched your business correctly at your target audience. Using your business’s social media profile, drip-feed the brand and products and services that you will be offering. You will make mistakes, but you will also learn valuable lessons about who is interacting with you online.
You need to keep asking your audience about your products or services. You may not be familiar with the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, but essentially it is how an image, word or phrase that you have only recently been made aware of seems to appear all the time. This is exactly what you want your brand to achieve, read more information about how this phenomenon can help your business’s visibility and attract new clients and customers. By interacting with your target audience, you not only increase your brand’s online visibility, but you are also able to be responsive to their feedback.
With a deep understanding of your customers, their likes, dislikes and interests, every decision you make will be geared to appeal to them. Regular high-quality communication with your target audience boosts your knowledge about them and further engages them with your business. An engaged audience equals a loyal customer.
Under Promise and Over Deliver
Many businesses make grandiose claims about what they can deliver to their customers, however, actions speak louder than words. You need to be able to go above and beyond your client’s expectations to stand out from the crowd. This is one way that is sure to differentiate your business from the competition.
Go the extra mile, and your business reputation will rocket. You can get ideas about areas that you can excel in from looking online at your competitors’ feedback. For example, slow delivery is a real bugbear of online consumers, so state that your products will be received within 2 days but aim for next day. Identifying and exploiting gaps in your competitors’ business is a great way to attract customers.
Create a great culture
Think about the businesses that you regularly use and recommend. What makes you a loyal customer? They deliver what they promise, have great customer care and culture. The one way to get the most out of your business relationships (customers, suppliers, and employees) is to create a great business culture that people want to be part of and associated with.
A strong and positive working culture inspires and motivates employees to make good decisions which impact the customer experience. If your company culture is one that rejects jargon and becomes authentic in what it offers employees and customers alike, it develops a reputation for being honest and gives it a real competitive advantage.
Creating a pleasant work environment will not only help you to attract and retain talented employees, but it can also be a powerful marketing tool. Make sure that you have a concisely defined mission statement that you can work within. Celebrate and promote the ethos of your business and live by it.
It can be hard to know how to make your business stand out from the crowd; however, the tips above are very real ways that you can help your business grow and develop a positive and profitable reputation. You don’t just want to attract new customers, you need to keep them loyal to your brand. Identify who your customers are, provide a service that exudes quality and a company that they want to be associated with.