Build Your Obvious Choice Web Presence

No longer is it enough to build a Website and expect to compete these days. Prospects, even those that are looking to do business locally, turn to search engines to find every kind of business and solve every kind of problem.

WebPresence

Today’s small businesses need to approach the internet with a mindset that’s focused on creating the largest presence—digital footprint—possible in order to stand out, and show up, when a prospect goes poking for a solution.

The internet now represents the center of the marketing world. Most marketing decisions must start and end there. Today’s small business must view its marketing strategies and tactics with a mindset on growing an online presence that makes them the obvious choice and facilitates most of the offline transactional functions that drive sales and service.

The Foundational Elements of an Obvious Choice Web Presence

  • Building an online listening station (Google Alerts, Twitter List, HootSuite and SproutSocial)
  • Optimizing brand assets in sharing services (eBooks, Seminars, SlideShare, YouTube, and Newsletters)
  • Claiming valuable social media real estate (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn)
  • Claiming valuable local network real estate, (Google Business Page, Bing Business Page, Yellow Page Listing)
  • Participating in ratings and review sites,  (Yelp!, MerchantCircle and
    CitySearch)
  • Maximizing social media activity (Posting education content that links back to your website)

All businesses, regardless of industry, have become what I like refer to as O2O (online
to offline) businesses. Their primary marketing objectives are focused on driving people
online to drive them offline.

This is how you begin to make your content strategy pay. This is how you begin to activate the informing and educating elements of your Marketing Process.

In that effort, the online presence has significantly heightened responsibilities:

  • While advertising was used primarily to create a sale or enhance an image, it
    must now be used to create awareness for your website, online media assets
    and content.
  • While SEO has traditionally been about optimizing web page copy by targeting
    keyword phrases in certain frequencies and densities, it must now rely on crafting
    content so compelling that other people want to promote it by linking to it or
    sharing it, which increases your trust and authority and helps the pages you want
    to rank well for certain keywords.
  • While lead generation used to consist of broadcasting messages, it must now
    rely heavily on creating the right content, delivered to the right person, at the right time.
  • While lead conversion often consisted of multiple sales calls to supply
    information, it must now support online information gathering with value delivery.
  • While referrals used to be a simple matter of passing a name along, referrals
    now rely heavily on an organization’s online reputation, ratings and reviews.
  • While physical store location has always mattered, now the online location for the local business has become a life and death matter.

If you are still looking at marketing efforts in a linear way – with online tactics falling
somewhere in line – it’s essential that you change this view entirely. Today’s business
owner must build a marketing strategy with the online engagement at the center. Only
then can small businesses create a strong foundation that will carry the company’s
marketing efforts into the next decade.

About the Author: Patrick McFadden is the owner and marketing consultant at Indispensable Marketing, a strategic marketing firm in Chesterfield, VA. We help small to midsize businesses create marketing plans and growth processes that generate leads and close sales.

Do Offline Marketing Tactics Still Work?

During recent conversations with local business owners I’ve been discussing ways to use online tools to drive more offline sales. That upward to 90% of our prospects are going online to search for products and services they intend to acquire offline locally. Smart marketers must adapt to this behavior by employing tools that make it easier for local shoppers to engage once they find you online in their town.

Postman delivering mail

All businesses, regardless of industry, have become what I call O2O businesses – their primary marketing objectives are focused on driving people online to drive them offline and in that effort the online core web presence has significantly heightened responsibilities.

Then a local business owner asked, “Do offline marketing tactics still work?”

Absolutely, they do! In fact, the best innovation is to take proven offline marketing strategies to the online world.

Here are five offline marketing tactics that work and don’t require a big marketing budget.

1. Employ Offline Guerrilla Marketing

Guerrilla marketing is a generic term for the use of unconventional marketing strategies, and because online marketing channels are so narrowly structured, offline is the best arena to flex your small business’s guerrilla marketing muscle. So, starting now, ignore what you know about marketing channels, and let your inner child out to play.

Offline guerrilla marketing ideas:

  • Leave sticky notes in random places (bars, coffee shops).
  • Use chalk to advertise promotions on a sidewalk.
  • “Accidentally” leave a branded pen at the bank.
  • Donate branded bookmarks to your local library.
  • Use sticky notes to create temporary images on buildings, cars, etc.

2. Strategically Leave Business Cards

This is one offline guerrilla marketing strategy that I want to talk about specifically. It’s more of a necessity than an option. If you run a small business, you must have business cards and dole them out! Don’t just share them when you first meet someone new. Strategically leave them everywhere.

Places to leave business cards:

  • Leave a business card with your tip at a restaurant.
  • See a public bulletin board? Put up a business card.
  • Go to the library and place business cards in books related to your business.
  • When you see a contest fish bowl asking for business cards, drop yours in. Always.

3. Get Face-to-Face Testimonials 

The best time to get a testimonial is when you’re standing face-to-face with a client and he or she tells you what a great job you have done. (Learn to take advantage of this opportunity.)

Purchase a two-column business card holder and ask your happy client to give you two business cards. Ask the client to write a brief testimonial on the back of one card, and then place one with the testimonial facing up and the other next to it.

This little collection of cards will become your ales trophy case and will lend instant credibility to your claims.

4. Donate Gift Certificates or Products as Prizes

By offering your product or service as the prize for a local contest, you can build visibility for your business while showing your commitment to the community.

If your business provides computer repairs, for example, you could donate a gift certificate for a 2-hour repair to a local non-profit organization. The organization may announce your branded prize to a room full of sponsors. Your business could also be listed in various publications, such as the organization’s website, newsletter, or even a press release.

5. Speak at Events

Professional events offer a great way to meet new people, share your ideas, and build brand awareness. They’re even more effective if you speak at them. Find a local event related to your industry, come up with an educational topic you can speak on, and volunteer. If you don’t yet have the level of clout required to speak at an event, attending events can be just as helpful.

Remember, you don’t have to adopt all of these offline marketing strategies. Just try one. Write a promotion on a couple sticky notes, and put them in your pocket for the day. Who knows what could happen.

About the Author: Patrick McFadden is the owner and marketing consultant at Indispensable Marketing, a strategic marketing firm in Richmond, VA. We help small to midsize businesses create marketing plans and growth processes that generate leads and close sales.

The Return On Investment (ROI) of Social Networking

I have conversations on a daily basis with business owners about marketing and unavoidably this question always comes up, “What is the ROI of social networking?” I get emails from frustrated marketers who want to get more active with social networking, but can’t convince the boss that it’s worth it.

My response to the Return On Investment (ROI) roadblock is this:

“How does your boss measure the ROI of attending local Chamber of Commerce events, participating in Trade Associations, and dropping in on networking luncheons?”

Done correctly, social networking on sites like LinkedIn is really no different – you don’t measure participation based on direct sales, you measure success based on:

  • identifying one potential strategic partner,
  • acquiring one actionable bit of advice, or
  • striking up a conversation or two that may eventually lead to developing a new customer.

That sounds like a set of solid networking objectives doesn’t it?

Of course this thought process assumes that you have identified a set of objectives for your offline networking, which often is not the case. I’ve talked about this time and time again,“marketing without goals is the noise before the failure” and networking is a function of marketing.

But, with all that being said, my primary point here is that you need to align online networking with face-to-face networking and then create a set of objectives and subsequent strategies and tactics to get the most from both. But, job one is to get your mind around social networking as, just that, networking.

Now, with job one out of the way, you’ve also got to tackle something I mentioned earlier –“done correctly, social networking on sites like LinkedIn is really no different” – this is where the boss is really coming from when they say there’s no Return On Investment. So many people see social networking as a 24/7, hang out all day excuse for a job – and it can easily become that if you don’t identify and state objectives. On the other hand, you could as easily hang out at every at every networking event or meetup, join unrelated trade groups, and sponsor the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention club. (which would only be good if you sell pet weight loss services or products)

By identifying and clearly stating your objectives for social network participation (objectives not unlike those of participating in your local Chamber) you can more easily identify the networks that make sense, the type of engagement you need to create, and, most importantly, how much time and energy you can afford to invest to reach your objectives.

When you take a strategic approach to all forms of networking the Return On Investment allusion becomes much clearer.

About the Author: Patrick McFadden is the owner and marketing consultant at Indispensable Marketing, a strategic marketing firm in Richmond, VA. We help small to midsize businesses create marketing action plans and growth processes that generate leads and close sales.

How to Craft an Speaking Presentation Proposal That Can’t Be Refused

A few years ago, I submitted my first presentation to a premier conference.

I’d love to tell you I knocked it out the park, but my presentation proposal was denied. I personally couldn’t believe it. I knew the content was great and I was a good fit. I was baffled.

Determined as I was, I made sure that in the future I would change my presentation proposal to something that couldn’t be refused.

Since using this presentation proposal outline I’ve landed some huge opportunities to speak at premier conferences and expos.

Here’s of an example how to craft a presentation proposal that can’t be refused.

Title: 7 Steps to Small Business Success in Chesterfield County

Note: Your title is the first, and perhaps only, impression you make on a prospective presentation proposal reader. Without a compelling promise that turns a browser into a reader, the rest of your words may as well not even exist. So, from a can’t be refused standpoint, writing great titles is critical.

Visual Aid: Images are steroids for your title

Note: Let’s face it, writing great titles is hard. (Worth the effort, but still. Hard.) A great image can give your title a big boost. The image might be beautiful, odd, heartwarming, instructive or just curiosity-provoking, as long as it makes the proposal reader want to read that first line of your presentation.

Quick Summary

In today’s world, it’s difficult for Chesterfield County business owners to get the marketing momentum they need without a marketing plan and marketing process.Thankfully, it’s never been easier. In this presentation, I discuss how to create a strong marketing foundation to build your brand, develop a core point of differentiation, and the secret to getting marketing done.

Presentation Outline

Using examples from my own experience as well as relevant case studies, I explain that building a small business marketing process involves seven steps:

  1. Goals Before Strategy. Strategy Over Tactics. Until you can specifically define the results you want to achieve, or the primary reason you are marketing that supports your overall business goals, your business will fall prey to the “fire, aim,ready” marketing syndrome. Secondly, I believe marketing strategy is far more important to Chesterfield County small businesses than marketing tactics.
  2. Embrace the I.E.S. Marketing Touchpoints. The I.E.S. Marketing Touchpoints suggests that there’s a logical progression through which every customer comes to be informed about who you are and what you do and educated about the value you offer and what makes your company different. Once that occurs, the customer then decides to be sold in which they buy and refer.
  3. Create a Content Road Map. Today is more about being found—earning attention—and less about going out and hunting. In today’s marketing world the currency of being relevant and found is content. Prospective clients are not waiting to be sold to — they’re proactively gathering information when they search and soliciting peer recommendations. The mistake many Chesterfield County businesses make is that even if they create content, they don’t make it part of their overall strategy
  4. Build an Obvious Choice Web Presence. All Chesterfield County businesses, regardless of industry, have become what I like refer to as O2O (online to offline) businesses. Their primary marketing objectives are focused on driving people online to drive them offline.
  5. Operate a 4 Leg Lead Generation. There is rarely one dependable way to generate all of the leads a Chesterfield County business might require to meet objectives. It’s the careful blending of four legs: networking, advertising, public relations and referrals that creates the repetition, credibility and control needed to get a prospect motivated enough to pick up the phone or schedule an appointment.
  6. Make Lead Conversion a Process. The lack of an “on purpose approach” to selling is the biggest weakness for most Chesterfield County businesses. The focus of marketing is almost always on generating more leads. While leads are important, the obsession with generating them consumes a significant amount of time and resources.
  7. Live, Breath, and Sleep by the Calendar. It’s tough to get around to marketing, We get it. You didn’t start your business because you were dying to get your hands dirty with blogging, copywriting, and selling. But you soon found out that your business would die if you did not. So, what to do? The secret to getting marketing done is to make it a habit. Or, if we may roughly paraphrase Aristotle – “We are what we repeatedly do. Marketing, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

Ideal Audience

Chesterfield County business owners with 15-100 employees and no internal marketing department. They have typically been in business for over 5 years. These businesses are outwardly successful and have done very little marketing. They have begun to feel . constrained due to this lack of marketing.

Possible Formats

This presentation can be delivered as a keynote, workshop, or half-day seminar. Keynotes can range from 30–70 minutes, depending on your needs. The ideal keynote length is one hour.

Intended Outcomes

  • Audience members will be convinced that building a marketing process is not only necessary but necessary to reach growth goals.
  • Audience members will have a framework that will enable them to think strategically about marketing in the age of web and social media engagement.
  • Audience members will leave with practical, actionable steps they can implement immediately.

Topic Authority

Patrick McFadden is known as the Small Business Marketer with the Heart of a Teacher.

Patrick McFadden is a marketing consultant, speaker and owner of Indispensable Marketing.

He is the creator of the Indispensable Marketing Process and frequently consults with small and mid-sized businesses helping them create marketing plans and organized marketing processes for steady growth.

He is a featured marketing contributor to Manta, Business2Community, American Express OPENForum and is a popular presenter of workshops for organizations across the U.S.

About the Author: Patrick McFadden is the owner and marketing consultant atIndispensable Marketing, a strategic marketing firm based in Chesterfield, VA. We help small to midsize businesses get the strategy right so marketing tactics get results.

7 Hidden Benefits of Indispensable Marketing

Companies like Amazon and Google are known for the extraordinary benefits they offer customers. Although you may not have that kind of budget or the resources, you can get just as creative—for less.

hidden-benefit

Introducing the “Hidden Benefit”

The “hidden benefit” is the reason behind the reason people are interested in a product, service, or idea.

Let’s take small business owners, for instance. Every small business owner wants more leads and sales, but the reason why they want more leads and sales will vary.

They might want more leads and sales to:

  • To grow from their home office to an offsite location
  • To hire locals in the community
  • Help their family pay for future expenses
  • Spread a new idea that they believe will change the world
  • Become a recognized brand and sale the business

Really, we could list dozens more. Where “normal” benefits tend to be the same across an entire topic or industry, hidden benefits are much more personal. You’ll typically find a different one for every type of customer you want to attract to your business.

How to Find the Hidden Benefit

So, how do you guess which hidden benefit might motivate your prospect?

Well, you can’t. There are too many possibilities to make an accurate guess.

The only way to know for sure is to interact with your target market:

  • When prospective customers leave comments, email them and ask follow-up questions that uncover details they didn’t want to discuss in public.
  • Give away free consultations, where you dig into the problems your target market are having.
  • Go to conferences and listen to what questions attendees ask, and then buy them a drink afterward to find out more about their individual situation.

It’s work, but it’s worth it. The hidden benefit allows you to create content that you know will resonate with your target market. You’ll be inside their heads.

Here are the 7 hidden benefits we’ve discovered:

Indispensable Marketing helps you focus on your Ideal Client.

There is always a market out there that is just waiting for someone to service it. Not only are they waiting, they are willing to pay a premium to be serviced by someone who operates just like you. They value what you have to offer, they enjoy your relationship approach to customer service and they readily refer their friends and colleagues as a token of their appreciation. Sound like fairy-tale land? When you intentionally choose a market with a specific need or problem and then show them why you deserve their trust, it’s not only possible, it’s inevitable.

Indispensable Marketing gets prospects to call you.

By creating advertising and lead-generation promotions that allow the prospect to move gently along the know, like, and trust path at their own pace, Indispensable marketers entice fully-qualified prospects to contact them.

Indispensable Marketing has the ease of a process.

By working in the confines of a process, creating fixed steps, documenting and duplicating each step, the Indispensable Marketer is able to quickly build the essential foundational components. The focus then moves to operating and enhancing the process. That’s where the real magic lies.

Indispensable Marketing makes your staff more effective and efficient.

Your staff will thank you for including them in the marketing process and giving them tools to become immediately successful in their jobs. The payoff in terms of effectiveness and efficiency is sometimes stunning.

Indispensable Marketing permits you to charge a premium for your products and services.

When you become the obvious choice for a service, product or market, your customers are not only willing to pay a premium, they expect to do so. In fact, you will be surprised to learn that the greatest challenge can sometimes be charging enough to align with the perceived value!

Indispensable Marketing allows you to create predictable sales forecasts.

Because of the process approach to lead generation and lead conversion at the core of the Indispensable Marketing process, business owners can create and test successful promotions and expect predictable results when they increase the scale of such promotions.

Indispensable Marketing makes your business more valuable.

Nothing makes a business more attractive to a potential buyer than documented processes and predictable marketing results. The primary constraint on most small businesses is the “rainmaking” status of the owner. The Indispensable Marketing process presents a way to transfer that status to others. A potential buyer must feel confident that the business can operate without the current owner before any serious consideration can be given.

A Content Creation Strategy That Works For Small Business

When I talk with business owners about the value and need to create content, I often try to get them to think as a writer or artist would and create a strategic body of work.

“Creating content without a strategy is the noise before the failure.” 

content-strategy-king

If content is to become the foundation of your overall marketing activities, as a way to be found, build know, like, trust (new branding) and educate, then you have to think big picture about what your content will look like collectively rather than stand alone pieces.

It’s my own personally belief that one of the best ways to think about all of your needs for content is to think like an author might as they write a book or a musical artist might as they record an album. In order to write a book or record an album that holds together you must have a central thesis, focus on a handful of supporting themes and then outline the various chapters or single tracks that will eventually fill out the work.

For business owners using this kind of content creation strategy as your guide, even if it’s just today’s blog post, can always build on the total body of work and automatically adds to something bigger than bits of content created daily.

This is how you continually reinforce your central themes or, putting it in practical marketing terms, your most important keyword phrases. This is how you turn several blog posts into an “9 Things to Check Before Calling for Service on Your Air Conditioner or Furnace”, “The Secrets of Hiring a Roofing Contractor Without Getting Burned”, “7 Steps to Small Business Marketing Success”, “10 Must-Know Health Tips for People Over 40″, “7 Things That Cost You When Buying a Home”  eBook and an eBook into a seminar that converts leads.

This is how you make every word you write or record serve your long-term business objectives.

The people at Eloqua and JESS3 created a very useful infographic that helps visually illustrate this content creation strategy and also sheds a light on the various marketing purposes of every type of content, and how to look at content creation from an operational viewpoint.

The Content Grid v2 Eloqua JESS3

 

About the Author: Patrick McFadden is the owner and marketing consultant at Indispensable Marketing, a strategic marketing firm based in Chesterfield, VA. We help small to midsize businesses get the strategy right so marketing tactics get results.

10 Marketing Ideas Guaranteed to Bring in Business

One of the Indispensable Marketing secrets to marketing is this concept that “marketing is every business.” And if you get nothing else from this blog, get this: you are in the marketing business.

many-handshakes

Your challenge as a small or midsize business is that most marketing training is designed for large companies. Take this definition from the Columbia Encyclopedia:

“Marketing, in economics, that part of the process of  production and exchange that is concerned with the flow of goods and services from producer to consumer.”

This definition sure makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside! On the other hand, I’m the linchpin for the little guy. Listen to how plain-language my definition is:

“Marketing is everything you do or say that an ideal customer sees and hears.”

Does that sound too easy? After all, getting business is probably the hardest thing you do.

The problem is few small businesses enjoy marketing so they look in local publications or on the web and try to make their ad look like all the other loser ads. I call this “me too marketing” and it is insane.

When worked in order these 10 marketing ideas are guaranteed to bring in business:

1) Narrow the market focus

Create a picture of the ideal client: what they look like, how they think, what they value and where you can find them. (Pizza Hut or Uncle Tom’s All-You-Can-Eat Buffet may not be your ideal clients. Start saying “no” to non-ideal clients. They suck your energy.)

2) Differentiate yourself

Strip your service down to the simplest core idea. Make sure that this core idea will allow you to stand out. Remember that “offering the lowest price” will not make you stand out except in the unemployment line.

3) Now strategize

After performing steps one and two, your strategy is to “own” one or two emotional words in the mind of your ideal client. Ask yourself, “How do I want my customer to feel about my company?”

4) Create information that educates

Think of your marketing materials, websites and marketing kits as information products, not “sales” propaganda. Ideal clients want to be educated not sold.

5) Package the experience

Use all branding and identity elements to evoke an emotional response from your ideal prospect. Involve as many senses (smell, feel, see, taste, hear) as possible in every marketing activity.

6) Generate leads from many points

People learn about you in different ways. As my business college Rush Paul once said in a workshop, “you must triangulate many touchpoints.” Your lead generation must allow your prospects to experience your company from many different angles and views. (Hint: Performing community charity work will allow you to attract clients that you may not otherwise reach.)

7) Nurture your prospects

You must “shepherd” your potential customers  along the logical buying path.  So analyze the natural way that your prospects realize that you have what they need. Build your lead conversion process for before, during and after the sale.

8) Measure what matters

The secret is in finding and measuring the intangibles – those things on your service vehicle or in your office that eventually add up to profit. How many free audits, evaluations, seminars, assessments, etc. have your clients requested?

9) Automate for leverage

Embrace the web immediately – not when you find the time. Create easy access, stimulate community and pre-deliver knowledge by automating the basic delivery of your “information business.”

10) Commit

Resist the temptation of the “marketing idea of the week!” Believe me when I say that bowling score sheets, grocery receipts, etc. aren’t the place for your message. Create daily, weekly, monthly and annual marketing calendars, make marketing your new habit and find the money to stick with the plan.

Do you have any questions about one of these ideas? How do you bring in business?

About the Author: Patrick McFadden is the owner and marketing consultant at Indispensable Marketing, a strategic marketing firm based in Chesterfield, VA. We help small to midsize businesses get the strategy right so marketing tactics get results.

The Smart Way For Start-Ups to Create a Marketing Strategy

Recently, I’ve been getting asked questions directly and indirectly related to the marketing strategy for start-ups.

Here are some questions I’ve received:

  • Why can’t I attract business for my tech start-up?
  • How can a start-up achieve its marketing strategy goals?
  • What are the most effective ways for a small business to start marketing with little or no budget?
  • Is the marketing strategy for a start-up different compared to a business that is no longer a start-up?
  • What should a start-up do different with its marketing strategy?

These issues are really symptoms of the same painful problem, which boils down to not clearly understanding what a marketing strategy is and how do you get one. Don’t worry … it’s a fairly common ailment.

There’s a process you can work through that will help you achieve greater clarity of your start-up marketing strategy, which leads to great clarity in your business.

This process might also help you come to understand how to turn your start-up into a success with only the necessary elements, because you’ll know exactly what attributes to take stock in before you start thinking about creating or realigning your business.

1) Narrowly Define “You”

Understanding the characteristics, desires and behaviors of a narrowly defined target market is very hard work, but indispensable to your start-up success. Every marketing book, class or expert will tell you this, but few can give you the magic tablet that allows you to go deeply in the psyche of your prospect.

You can acquire some measure of knowledge from various research techniques, but nothing beats living, breathing, and feeling the same things your prospects do. I once heard Zig Ziglar say, “owners are closers.” You must own the product before you can sell anyone on it. I truly believe that the owner is the customer. Some of the surest successes in history have come from founders who created a product or service to meet a personal need and discovered a business by virtue of doing so.

2) Connect Your Offering to an Established Market

Some entrepreneurs dream of locking themselves in their lab for a year or so and emerging with the world’s greatest innovation. Sounds romantic I know, but if your innovation solves an incredible problem people don’t yet know they have, you may wind up burning through all the money before they get it.

Better to innovate around a proven market, borrow genius from an unrelated industry, or discover an unmet need in a mature market crying for a solution. New products or services are like riders, they need a horse to go somewhere and interact with the outside world. So,  if you have a terrific offering, but you can’t find a way to connect it to a medium to travel, nothing happens, there’s no activity, you end up with a static marketplace. 

Steve Jobs famously said in 1996: “Picasso had a saying — ‘good artists copy; great artists steal’ — and we have always been shameless about stealing great ideas.”

3) Use Your Competitors Marketing and Advertising

Sometimes entrepreneurs shy away from competition. If market research shows that there’s too much competition in a given area or industry, the thinking is that the market is saturated and there’s probably no room for your start-up there.

Wrong. While it may be true that your neighborhood couldn’t possibly stand another doughnut shop, I’ve found the success of several businesses in an industry, even in the same direct community, can spell opportunity.

If people are already spending money on a product or service then two-thirds of your work is done. Use your competitors marketing and advertising to your advantage. They have educated the market so they understand and value the offering enough to whip out their wallets. All that’s left for you to do now is show them how much better you can make the experience. Few businesses really provide great service. In fact, stealing market share in mature markets is one of the easiest paths for smart start-ups to run.

4) Simplicity is Your Innovation

Much of this article has focused on entering proven markets. While that’s absolutely the advice I’m giving here, know that you must do so with a significant point of differentiation that market easily understands and appreciates. In most cases this can be done by looking at the way most folks in the chosen market operate and find a way to simplify your offerings around breaking the mold.

For example, if people in your service business operate by proposal and bid, come up with a fixed price. If the traditional operating method is custom work, come up with a series of pre-packaged offerings that meet most people’s needs without the custom hassle.

There’s a popular pizza restaurant in California that has one unique pizza on the menu each day. They make it up in big batches and serve thousands a day at $20 per pie.

5) Nothing is in Stone

Here’s the one that can snag small business founders. If you’re in love with your bright shiny baby start-up and all that it offers, you may become blind to the reality the market suggests.

Keeping an open mind and a willingness to discover what the market really wants and adapt accordingly is one of the core advantages of your smallness – remember to use it.

Talk to your customers, talk to your competitors, talk to your employees and remember nothing is precious but what the numbers prove to be so.

Eliminate Competition With Superior Positioning

There are plenty of people out there with exceptional products and services who are losing out to others with lesser offerings and higher prices.

What’s going on with that?

Superior marketing and sales techniques, that’s what. Here’s how to level the playing field (or even tip the scales in your favor).

Wouldn’t selling your product or service be wonderful without competition? Well, it’s possible, only to the extent that a certain type of person considers you the absolute only option.

If you take a moment to read my about page you know that I’m 110% all in when it comes to positioning my business as strategic and educational. This type of positioning is so vital to success.

The traditional approach to positioning involves offering a benefit your competition cannot or will not offer, thereby making your offer the only choice for those who value that benefit. It still works too – look at the insane level of customer service that Zappos offers, and you’ll understand why tons of people wouldn’t dream of buying shoes elsewhere.

For small and micro-businesses, eliminating the competition with superior positioning can be as simple as creating a unique bond with enough people to build a thriving business. Creating a hybrid business at the intersection of disciplines, crafting a better metaphor that communicates what people need to hear, or creating an emotional bond and huge trust based on your own personality.

But I believe the best way is to communicate information that demonstrates a supreme level of professionalism and this is done by creating a new customer kit that explains:

  • What to expect from us next
  • How to contact us if you have a question
  • How to get the most from your new product/service
  • What we need from you to get started
  • What we agreed upon today
  • How we invoice for our work
  • A copy of our invoice

Creating a series of documents and/or having a strategic step that allows you to communicate key information positions and demonstrates a supreme level of professionalism not always displayed by the small business community.

Which makes you the absolute only option!

About the Author:Patrick McFadden is the owner and marketing consultant at Indispensable Marketing, a strategic marketing firm based in Chesterfield, VA. We help small to midsize businesses get the strategy right so marketing tactics get results.

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