In this tough economic climate are you taking the right steps to ensure your business will continue to grow?
Standards and Poors has downgraded America’s AAA credit rating, local and international markets are volatile and easily spooked, interest rates continue to rise, the carbon tax is coming, consumer sentiment remains tight and no one is feeling particularly confident.
Most SMEs (Small to Medium Enterprises) are well downstream from major economic triggers. We don’t cause the problems but are affected because of what is happening to larger businesses, the economy, and consumers.
If your business strategy for the next 12 months is simply to turn up, work hard, and expect business to come to you then you are likely to be disappointed. If you have not already, it’s time to do something different. When business gets tougher, ‘me too’ businesses come under pressure. A ‘me too’ business is one that simply replicates what everyone else in their industry or sector does. This may work for SMEs in a buoyant market, but through tougher times it’s vital to differentiate you business.
If you’re not taking the right steps to differentiate yourself in your market this may leave your customers with no compelling reason to continue doing business with you.
Business, and in particular small business, need to be more strategic. This is where your business strategy comes in. Your strategy should set the direction for your business and allow you to carve out a sustainable position in your market.
Good businesses always have a clear strategy in place. For the coming year it will be more important than ever; it will separate the successful from the strugglers.
5 tips to differentiate your business
- Focus on the customer experience. What’s it really like dealing with your business? Do a blind test and see whether your business and your team really want customers and sales. For most businesses, you’re not delivering a product/ service, your delivering an experience
- What do your customers really want and can you give it to them and still make a profit? Starbucks closed 61 stores in Australia by 2008 (73% of their stores). They misunderstood the sophistication of Australia’s coffee market and no amount of advertising was going to make us change our barista.
- Solve the problem. What is it that your business does for your customers? The more you can solve the problems they face and make life easier, the more likely it is that customers will choose you over your competition. It might be as simple as refining how customers choose and order your product, access to information that is valuable (think of the freight companies who offer freight tracking and schedules of a customer’s history) through to product development (online banking didn’t always exist)
- Know your product. Do all of your staff know your product or service and do they know what to say about it? The business might seem simple to you but your staff might not naturally realise what needs to be done or said. Inexperienced or poorly trained staffs are a huge turn off to all but the keenest customers
- Not everyone wants to be your friend. For many years marketers told you to develop a close relationship with your clients. As a result, everyone wanted you on their database primarily to market to you (almost zero value to your customer). There is no question that there is a value to having a tangible customer base, but realise that your customers are looking for different relationships with different businesses. Understand what it is they want from you and develop the relationship from there. If you make contact give them value – don’t just talk at them about your product.
If you really want to differentiate your business and continue to grow in this tough economic climate contact Oculus to get the right advice and develop the best strategy for your business.