When it comes to marketing, the most important thing you can do is to work out what makes you special and then focus on this to promote your business. Look for that crucial element that encourages your customer to come to your business rather than to your competitor.
Take some time to think about this, as you are identifying your unique selling point and marketing this will help your business grow. Once you have worked out just what it is that appeals to your target market, you can then successfully use it as a focus for your advertising campaigns.
Factors that could set your business apart
- Your product
- Your location
- Your business as a whole
As an established business, you may very well be able to identify what sets you apart. However, this is not always easy.
As part of the process of “working on your business and not just in it” you need to take the time to determine the factors which make the business work, whether that be the processes, business relationships or personnel, etc.
Assessing your products and location
Start by looking at the products or services you offer. Analysis of your stock turnover rates and profit and loss sheets will let you know what is most profitable to you — what sells best. If this is different from your competitors, you might have already identified your unique selling point. If you don’t feel that this is the key factor, then consider your location.
Maybe it is your position on the street, good parking facilities, or proximity to the train station, that attracts your customers to you. Many businesses rely on passing trade to bring in their customers. Others draw their customers from their immediate vicinity. Some businesses even find themselves successful because of their proximity to some landmark.
Whatever the reason, if your location is a factor in setting your business apart from your competition, then this can be an important marketing factor.
Looking at your business image
At the same time, your business as a whole could be what attracts your customers. They could come to you for who you are, rather than the products you provide, or your physical location. This has become more relevant in recent times, as customers are prioritising value congruence, that is, the extent to which their personal values are mirrored in a business. If this is the case, this can also be a very powerful marketing tool.
Take a minute to consider the most successful businesses you know — IBM and Toyota are good examples.
If you think about it, their products and corporate image are interlinked in your mind through their particular brand name. This is probably due to work done by expensive advertising agencies and image consultants reasonably early in the life of the product.
Ideally, this is what you should aspire to in your business. You want the public to associate your business with what you provide to them. This means that you must present your customer with a unified picture of your business. Your business image, your product and your advertising should all match. This is known as “branding”.
Promoting your business as a whole is often overlooked, as people tend to focus on promoting what they actually want to sell.
This is understandable, as this is what physically brings the money into the business. However, as part of the benchmarking process for improving your business, we encourage you to take a wider approach. To be successful you may find that you should be marketing a complete package —not just advertising and promoting the end product you want your customer to buy. Your aim should be to ensure that you promote your business and your product as consistently and effectively as possible.
Assessing your business image
Look at your business first. You should already have a business image, regardless of whether you have carefully developed it, or whether it has evolved through time and circumstance.
Think for a moment and ask yourself — “Is this the image I want to show to the world?”
Don’t forget your customers make instinctive judgements about your business from their first impressions. You want to make your customer feel confident that you are efficient, that they will be very well looked after, and that you’ll take care of all their needs. You need to let them know that “This is how we do business around here”.
How does your business compare?
Perhaps you are not sure about whether the image you present is good enough, or what you could do to make it better. Although we have just mentioned huge corporations, it is more realistic in your case to compare yourself to businesses of your size.
Accordingly, the first thing you should do is to consider your competition. Think about their businesses and determine if they present a unified image. Look at how they appear from the street, as well as the impression you get as you walk in. It takes no more than a couple of seconds to size up a place.
- Does their premises match up with their overall business image?
- Look at their staff. Are they courteous and efficient? Do they look friendly or are they off-putting? Are they wearing some sort uniform and what effect does this have?
Then take a few minutes to see if there are any simple things you can adopt and adapt to suit your own circumstances.
First impressions are the ones we retain longest and are the most enduring. Your first impression has a way of influencing all subsequent impressions.
Chances are there have been occasions in the past where you have decided against using a company because the person you met didn’t “look” right or professional or the premises looked uninviting.
So we suggest you consider the following questions:
- How correct is the business image you present?
- Are you happy with it?
- Do any of your competitors do it better than you?
- What inexpensive changes could you make?
- What expensive changes could you make?
- If you are going to make changes, when should you do so?
You must consider all the ways in which you present yourself to the public from letterhead, to uniforms and dress code. We cannot stress enough how important it is that every interaction you have with the public promotes your businesses image or identity.
For instance, your business name and logo should be identical on any signage you have for your business, as well as on your letterheads, stationery and business cards. If this is not the case, you should change this as soon as possible.
It is important that there is no confusion about who you are, what your product is; and, if you work through this process effectively; why you are better than competitors.
For more processes to better your business consider automated planning software such as MAUS MasterPlan Lean