I have a thriving business today because I embraced eight massive changes to business-building strategies since I began my business almost 20 years ago.
1. From spin to story
Authentic stories sell. Most people ignore advertising because they don’t see it as the truth about a product or service. People embrace real stories about real people which is why genuine testimonials are key ways to attract customers.
What are people saying about your products and services? Are you using what people are saying about you as a key way to build your business?
2. From what to why
“Doing well by doing good” or enlightened self-interest is a key way to build your business. This is why so many people have embraced the triple bottom line of environmental sustainability, social responsibility and economic prosperity.
How good is your business for people and the planet? If you are doing good for people and for the planet, it is likely that you are making higher profits.
Profit is not a reason for being in business; it is rather a result of being good at business. What’s your reason? Douglas Atkin, author of The Culting Of Brands asks “What’s your cause?” and “What do you want to have happen?” If you’re not out to create anything, then you may as well go back to bed.
3. From interruption marketing to permission-based marketing
In the early days of my business, I had to cold call. The biggest hurdle I had to overcome was that people saw my call as an interruption to their work.
Advertising is the biggest way people are interrupted which is why many mute the commercials when watching television.
Today, if salesmen are seen as interrupting people, it is unlikely that they will hear their message.
In what ways do you have permission to communicate your message to people? Do you have an electronic newsletter for example that people have opted-in to receive? Do you have numerous ways to collect people’s details and do they know what will happen on a frequent basis once you have their details?
4. From media to mass media
When I first started my business, the telephone books, newspapers, magazines, radio and television were the media available to me, and most were inaccessible as I didn’t know anyone and I didn’t have a lot of funds to spend.
Today, people can use a multitude of media channels to add value and attract clients for free.
Are you blogging? Are you on YouTube? Are you using Facebook, LinkedIn or other sites to build relationships? Today, one of the big questions to ask and answer thoroughly is “What is your strategy for using social media to build your business?”
5. From expert to thought leader
Today, being an expert is a given. To thrive, you must be seen as a leader in your field of expertise. Otherwise, you will be ignored.
Ask yourself: How are you perceived in your markets? Are you seen as a leader or just one of many?
In all your business-building activities, do you position yourself as a stand-out? And do you prove your standing in all your transactions and interactions with people?
6. From generalist to niche
Once I tried to be all things to all people. I learned the hard way that I can only truly serve people in certain niches. Are you open for business to everyone or are you the “go to” person for certain people?
7. From provider to partner
I was once a provider of certain services and usually I was hired for a specific period of time to provide a specific solution or meet a particular need.
Today, I don’t provide my clients with solutions to their challenges or problems, rather I partner with them to discover their own solutions. A consequence is that I get paid for the value I provide rather than the time it takes.
Do your customers see you as a partner or a provider? If your answer is “provider”, then it won’t be long before someone gives them a perceived better offer and you will lose their loyalty.
Being seen as a partner is a key way to build loyalty and therefore retain customers.
8. From service to experience
Providing clients with great customer service is a given today. Provide less than high standards of service and people will simply go somewhere else.
What kind of experience do you provide your clients before, during and after the transaction? Unless your answer is memorable across the board, you are not building the business optimally. Not only are you are missing out on significant income and profits, you are also most likely going backwards.