Unsure about How to Talk to Prospective Customers?
Are you ever frustrated or hesitant when you talk to prospective customers because you can’t readily explain why they should come to you rather than go to your competitors?
Sure, you might have your 30-second speech at the ready, but then they ask you that dreaded question,
“So what makes you different?”
Then, all those self-doubts flood in, your confidence is down and you just aren’t sure what to say.
One thing that can boost confidence and that’s differentiation. In yourself and the prospective customer’s confidence in you!
Dif-fer-en-ti-ate v. tr. To perceive or show the difference in or between; discriminate.
In business terms, to differentiate means to create a benefit that customers perceive as being of greater value to them than what they can get elsewhere.
It’s not enough for you to be different–a potential customer has to take note of the difference and must feel that the difference somehow fits their need better.
Unique Selling Proposition;
As you are building your business, you can use differentiation to attract more customers. Once you have momentum, this allows you to charge a higher price because you are delivering more value to your customers. Make a point to evaluate and adjust your differentiation methods annually.
The various methods of differentiating your businesses fall into four general categories:
Customer Service Differentiation
Differentiating on price is probably the most common and easily understood method.
On the one hand, potential customers might expect a lower price from you than from your larger competition because they perceive you as having less overhead, etc.
On the other hand, cheaper prices can evoke perceptions of lower quality, a less-stable business, etc.
And if you compete on price against competitors with deeper pockets, you can price yourself right into bankruptcy.
Be creative by competing on something other than straight price when dealing with prospective customers.
For example, you might offer:
More value–offer more products or services for the same price.
Freebies –accessories, companion products, free upgrades, and coupons for future purchases.
Free shipping, etc.–convenience sells, especially when it is free!
Discounts–includes offering regular sales, coupons, etc. (see cautions above)
For Solo Entrepreneurs, this is the most important method of differentiation, and in many ways, the easiest.
Because as an entrepreneur, you simply can’t be everything to everybody, so you must pick a specific way to focus your business.
Once you have done that, you have an automatic advantage over larger companies because you can become more of an expert in that one field –and you can build close relationships with key customers that will be hard to duplicate.
For instance, you might differentiate yourself through:
Take advantage your closeness to prospective customers.
Be very specific about what characteristics your customers will have—for example, racing bicycle enthusiasts or companies with a spiritual conscience.
Know customers really well, form partnerships with them, and get them to speak for you!
Associate your product/service with a well-known person or organization.
One-stop shopping – offer everything your target market needs, in your area of expertise.
Wide selection (within your niche)—although this one may seem to be the opposite of focus–the key is to be very specific in one dimension and very broad in another.
Product/Service Offering Differentiation
How much you are able to differentiate your product or service offering will vary based on what type of business you are in.
For instance, if you are in a highly regulated business, your options may be limited.
Explore a totally new market or type of product or service, however, and the possibilities abound.
The key to successful differentiation in this category, again, is to know your customers, really, really well.
Talk to them often, and you will know what they need most and be able to offer it, long before your competitors know what is happening.
For example, your product or service could stand out in one of these ways:
Create a product or service that is exceptional in one or more ways. Examples: Lasts longer
Easier to use
Be the first one to offer something in your location/field.
Offer lots of choices, unusual combinations, or solve a problem for a customer in a way no one else does.
You may be able to more easily handle special orders than big, mass-market competitors.
Customer Service Differentiation
Have you noticed how customer service seems to be out of vogue these days?
This situation makes excellent customer service a great opportunity for differentiation and another natural advantage for individuals that already know what’s important to their customers. Build your reputation on making customers feel really good about doing business with you.
It works great with referral marketing, too.
Here are some examples:
Next day, or one-hour–make it faster than customers think possible.
Offer a service over the phone or Internet instead of in person or in their office rather than yours.
It may seem expensive to offer exceptional service–but it pays off in word-of-mouth advertising.
Provide technical or other support to customers using your product. –You might use joint ventures to provide that support–but customers will perceive it as being from you!
Offer 100% money-back, or free replacement parts.
Offer yourself, your unique blend of talents and skills, to attract customers. Make sure they get access to you, too!
Keys to Successful Differentiation:
Get Know your customers very well.
In fact know them better than they know themselves
Pick a blend of differentiation methods that, in the eyes of your customers, truly sets you apart.
Talk about your differentiation in terms of customer benefits.
Tell everyone about what differentiates you–often.
Keep your differentiation fresh by listening for changing customer needs. Strategy, marketing, small business marketing, direct marketing, internet marketing, advertising
I still wonder why some people can make only $100-$300 per month from their own ezine. Personally, I strongly believe that anyone who have more than 1,000 subscribers in his ezine should make at least $1,000 a month.
However, what I have said is possible for the one who want to make serious money on ezine. When we talk about how to make money from your own list, most people think about selling ezine Adv. Most of you wait for the advertiser to invest in your ezine Ad. Don’t do that!
Even though you have only 1,000 subscribers, you can easily make $1,000 every month. The first thing is “don’t accept ezine Ad or articles too much”! Why? Because if you usually send solo ad or even top ezine ad to your list, it will hurt your image as a professional publisher!
People have subscribed your ezine because they expect something serious and interesting!
Stop thinking of marketing in the traditional sense of advertising – the thousands of ads interrupting your day via mail, spam, television, radio and now even movie theater advertising.
These messages creep into our lives and personal space and we resent it.
Yourself promotion activities will look nothing like this! This is not the kind of marketing I recommend, teach or want you to be doing. Relieved?! Good.
The traditional form of marketing is ‘Interruption Marketing’ because it is designed to interrupt you to get your attention.
And isn’t this how most of us view marketing?
On the other hand you have ‘Permission marketing’.
It’s very different. It’s a term that was coined by marketing guru Seth Godin.
Permission Marketing is all about selling yourself and your services with freedom and integrity.
And, I don’t like to even call it marketing or promotion…it’s all about building trust with potential clients and customers. It’s optimally effective when your clients’ and customers’ needs and wants are put first and you are a solution to their problem.
Permission marketing is the ideal business building strategy for you, the solo entrepreneur. In fact, it may be the only type of marketing you can afford!
The law of permission marketing simply states that you are looking to build a relationship with your clients and you will continually offer products and services that will improve their life!
Think of a great dining experience you’ve had. Not only was the food fabulous but I’m willing to bet the service was impeccable.
Did the server talk about the chef’s specially prepared items and make recommendations?
Did they check back to ensure the quality of the food.
Were they there to recommend wine, dessert or coffee?
Yes, of course, they were.
And they always asked for your permission to make suggestions. That way you were anticipating them… and their suggestions were based on your tastes and interests – which they learned over the course of your time together.
You are not a door to door encyclopedia sales man looking to make a quick buck…you are looking to create value for potential prospects long before they start working with you. You wouldn’t expect them to pull out their check book and take a risk on you until you’ve created some value in their life.
Now, here’s the key….
You continually provide more and more permission to contact them until you are servicing their needs in a very deep, expansive and personal way.
The focus is directly on your ideal client and their needs.
Once your clients’ see the benefits they enjoy as a result of receiving your expanded products and services, they will allow you, scratch that, ask, plead and beg for you to boldly go forward and cater to their specific needs.
See how mutually beneficial this all is?
The following strategies will help you service clients first so you can continually court and contact them through a wonderful mutually beneficial relationship.
Eventually, they won’t know how they ever lived without you.
There are many fun and easy self-promotion strategies that you can use for maximum prestige and profit. These quick action oriented strategies will educate, inform, and service your existing clients and book you solid with clients that will stay with you for many years to come.
Free sessions, services or products
Keep it plain and simple…no mystery here.
Invite prospective clients to enjoy one service free. You risk nothing (except your time) and have so much to gain
Let’s say you’re a coach or web designer… you have so much information that people would love to have. So, prepare a topic that is relevant and timely for you ideal clients and invite everybody you know and meet to join you for a 30 or 60 minute Q & A.
Create some excitement and organize a service demo that gets prospective clients involved. Have anything you’ve written available, free reports, etc…
Invite existing clients who will speak positively about their experiences.
Show off effective techniques, new technologies or improved performance methods you use
Teach clients some basic techniques that they can implement and experience immediate results. Don’t forget to invite existing clients too so they can mingle and talk about the great success they’ve had working with you.
If you are developing a product or already have one…do an exclusive product preview and provide samples of your work or physical products to try out.
It involves more of the senses and your prospects can see, taste, touch and feel something before they start working with you.
The more valuable, honest and helpful the information you provide, the more likely it is that the person will seek out more information and your prospective customer has now become a loyal and respected client.