Be Different

In most industries, competition is fierce. Because of this, it is important to do things to stand out from the competition. Do you? Simply doing whatever everyone else is doing isn’t going to get you noticed, attract customers, or positively impact the bottom line.

True, it is important to adhere to industry standards in a lot of ways. If you’re a fast food chain, you need to have a drive thru lane like all your competitors. If you’re an apparel retailer, you need to have an e-commerce site like everyone else. These things are called points of parity.

However, where you really create value is through what are called points of difference. These things allow you to set yourself apart from the competition, get attention, and hopefully be successful. So, if your business is in a rut, think about what you can do that your competitors are not. If none of your rivals have a loyalty program, consider starting one. If nobody delivers, think about doing that. If everyone else sells the same products, try adding some new product lines that are unique and attention getting.

The point is…find a different reason for customers to want to come to you. Contests. Funny mascots. Different pricing schemes. Silly advertisements. The possibilities are endless. Just sit down and brainstorm what you could do that others do not. And ask your employees and customers. They may have some good insight that you did not think of.

What is your plan?

Do you have your marketing all planned out? If not, know that it is important to do so. Small businesses tend to do marketing in a haphazard way. Something sounds good, they think about it for a bit, and then do it. This can sometimes result in positive outcomes, but sometimes not.

It is best to develop a marketing plan that lays out everything you are going to do for a set period of time. Let’s say a year for illustrative purposes. Create a plan that discusses in detail what activities you’re going to do and when, and most importantly, why you are doing them. These activities should be created and carried out with a goal in mind.

Make sure that you are specific. Are you going to do a coupon campaign? If so, lay out all the details. Who are you sending it to, how many, how long will the campaign last, what will it cost, what do you hope to get out of it, and how are you going to measure it?

Thinking through all these details ahead of time will make the marketing process go so much more smoothly. And it will help you improve the effectiveness of your marketing over time.

Answering Negative Comments Online

Social media is a beautiful thing. It allows you to get closer to your customers and get instant feedback. This provides companies with lots of really good feedback, both good and bad. However, the question is….what do you do with the negative comments found on Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, etc.? This is a big question.

You basically have three options:

  1. Do nothing. This is the easiest alternative. You can choose to ignore the comments. However, this is not a good idea. Ignoring the comments don’t make them go away, nor do they fix a potential problem. The complainer may cut off patronage and continue to say bad things about you.

  2. Apologize. You can say you’re sorry for what happened. Thank them for their feedback and promise to prevent the problems from happening again. This resonates with customers. They like to know that you are listening and care about their customers. With this alternative, you could also provide some sort of reparations as well, e.g. refund, coupon, etc., but you don’t necessarily have to.

  3. Refute. Finally, you can refute the negative comments. Maybe the customer did something wrong or had unrealistic expectations. In these cases, defend yourself. The mantra ‘the customer is always right’ is wrong. Customers shouldn’t necessarily be able to get whatever they want, whenever they want, especially when they are being unreasonable. In fact, some chronic complainers use online complaining as a form of blackmail, expecting you to apologize, give them their money back, etc. If you use this option, be sure to be tactful, thanking them for their feedback before refuting their claims. Other customers who see this course of action might be impressed that you didn’t simply lay down for unreasonable customers.

Being able to effectively respond to online complaining should be a crucial part of any company’s promotional strategy. Need help with this? Feel free to contact me.