Why should customers trust you?

When it comes to marketing a business, there are many different “proofs” that must be taken into account. Celebrity endorsements can work for brands with pockets deep enough to pay for celebrity endorsements. But for those smaller businesses that are operating on limited funds, there are similar proofs that can be done on a smaller scale. If you can prove why customers should trust you as opposed to your competition, then you stand to have a competitive edge.

Proof of the business concept

When answering the question why customers should trust you, you must have a business concept that is trusted. Often times we take for granted the underlying concepts that drive our business. For example, in running a coaching service, coaches will often times jump past the concept of coaching to selling their particular programs. When doing this, the coach has neglected the fact that the customer hasn’t necessarily bought in to the concept of coaching. Financial advisors can tout the fact that a single advisor to handle all of their customers needs, when the customer hasn’t been convinced that having a single advisor is necessary. It is important to make sure that the business concept is trusted before you can expect to gain trust for your business.

Proof of the relevance to the customer

And just because a customer accepts the fact that having a single financial advisor or a business coach is a valid and trusted concept doesn’t guarantee that the customer will think that the concepts are relevant to them. Essentially, customers need to be shown “what’s in it for me”. Putting the business concept into context for the customer will show exactly how the concept will work for the customer. The customer may accept that having a single financial advisor or a business coach would work for some people, but not necessarily for them. Proof of business concept is where it starts, but it needs to be tied to proof of relevance to the customer in order to answer the question of why should customers trust you.

Proof of the promise of how your solution will work

Once you have established proof of business concept and tied it in to proof of relevance to the customer, the next hurdle is to show how your solution will work in the context of the customer. You may have established proof concept and proof of relevance, but unless the customer can see some insight into how your solution will work to meet their needs, you won’t completely answer the question of why customers should trust you. And the best way to go about this is to show it and not just tell your customers about it. Testimonials can be a useful tool to build proof. Free trials are another way to prove this concept to your customers. Nothing works quite like having the customer experience the benefits of your product of service first hand.

Proof of your superiority

We all know that shopping around is the way that most people shop. You would never dream of buying the first car, the first house or the first high-ticket item without looking around at your other options. Shopping around is a natural part of any purchase decision. And knowing who your are competing with and what sets your business apart from the competition will be critical in showing how your business meets the needs of your customers better than that of the competition. We live in a consumer-focused world. Customers have many options at hand. And knowing how you are different, special, unique is a necessary part in answering the question why customers should trust you and your business.

A Not So Secret Marketing Trick To Get The Word Out About Your Small Business

There’s a not so secret marketing trick out there that not enough small businesses and entrepreneurs are taking advantage of. It’s a technique that helped many highly visible entrepreneurs get to where they are today. And it doesn’t cost anything and isn’t that hard to do. Sound too good to be true? Well no, exactly.
It’s something that is very effective when done properly and can elevate the profile of your small business. The not so secret marketing trick is called guest blogging.

Guest blogging is where you create content for another site. It’s as simple as that. You don’t have to get a guest spot on the highest trafficked site out there to have it be of benefit for your business. If you provide content on a quality site with a similar audience to yours, it can pay off for your business.

But before you get started picking up the phone and calling all of the site owners that you can think of, there’s an important thing that you need to take care of. You’ll need a good by-line, which are those blurbs in the author box that tells a little bit about who they are. It’s kind of like a virtual business card. It tells the reader who you are and how to get in touch.

Now, once you’ve crafted a good by-line, you’ll need to create an amazing article for contribution. Don’t think that just because it’s not ending up on your site that you can distribute your second-rate material. This is your chance to get in front of another audience and demonstrate your appeal. You’re spreading yourself around and getting in front of people that you hadn’t been in front of before. It’s your time to shine, and they might just want to find out more about what you have to offer.

When writing a guest article, remember to keep things simple. You’re not trying to write another War and Peace. Don’t try to over complicate things. Make sure that your theme is clear, and that the reader will easily understand who you are and what you do. A confused reader will switch off, and you don’t want that happening.

Another thing to keep in mind is to not be generic when writing a guest article. Let your personality come through, but remember to keep your content relevant for the audience that you are writing for. Don’t forget to link back to your site! But try and do so without using a generic term like “click here”. And please don’t litter your article with backlinks. You’ll end up looking desperate.

So get out there, make some new connections and write some content for another relevant post.

A Picture May Be Worth 1,000 Words, But In Marketing It’s Stories That Sell

Small Business marketing strategy rule number one

Un_Standard presents small business marketing strategy rule number one. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but in marketing it’s stories that sell. How many times have you had to endure the trauma of sitting through a presentation of dull PowerPoint slides filled with data dumps or spreadsheets spreadsheets that make your eyes hurt.
If you’re like me, after ten minutes of putting on the front that you are actually paying attention, your mind starts to wander to all of the tasks at hand that need to be accomplished, how many tiles are on the ceiling, or any other distraction to ease the pain of boredom? People react to emotion, compelling stories to form an emotional connection between the presenter and the audience. After all, consumers are motivated by emotion and the best way to connect is by putting the message into context so that the audience grasps the message. Once upon a time…

When we trudge through dry factual arguments, we have our defenses up. When we are absorbed in a story, we drop that front and allow our emotions to take hold. And emotions are what connects us and drives us as consumers.

People relate to honest stories

Every business has an inspiration, and a story behind the way that the business came in to being. Essentia Mattresses is a company that was founded because a family member of the founder and CEO had cancer. The doctors said that the cancer could have likely come about from exposure to everyday toxins from household items…like mattresses. And with that experience, Essentia Mattresses was born. A heart-wrenching story and the motivating story behind the creation of their organic mattresses. Instead of using the small business marketing strategy to position themselves as the first company to offer a natural memory foam mattress, Essentia made the conscious decision to incorporate the story into their brand and marketing efforts. And in a short space of time, they went from being a small online business to generating millions in revenue and eventually opening brick-and-mortar stores with plans for expansion.

Even if you think you don’t have a compelling story to tell in your small business marketing strategy, chances are you have a story that will relate with the ones you’re trying to reach. A good story must be relatable, no matter how mundane it may seem at first. You probably aren’t the first person to have an idea. And you aren’t the last. We all have competition. And those people who will be purchasing your products or services want experiences. Experiences are made through connections, and told through stories. Be sure to use those stories as the foundation of your small business marketing strategy.

And they all lived happily ever after. The end.

Building a Business vs. Instant Gratification

As human beings, it is in our nature to search for instant gratification. Perhaps it is what we in the developed world have grown accustomed to, but it seems as if around every corner offers are targeted to small business owners.
“Instantly build your business plan! Learn our secrets to success. Just pay me an extortionate amount of money and I’ll send you all of the leads you could possibly ever want”. Sure, it sounds good and we would like for it to be true. But just like those diet ads that promise that you can eat like a horse and still lose weight without diet or exercise, these offers just don’t work

There are no easy fixes when it comes to building a business. It takes an exorbitant amount of work. Trust me, I’ve been known to work seven days a week from the moment I wake up until the moment I go to sleep.  When planning a business, it’s best that you the business owner write the first draft of the business plan. This way, the essential document will contain your vision and will be more in touch with how your business needs to operate. Then, bring in the experts, like us here at Un_Standard, to help refine those ideas into a clear and concise business strategy. There will be cost involved, but considering the amount of time that you the entrepreneur will invest in planning, and how valuable your time is (and that’s time diverted from actually implementing your business

So if you love what you do, after all, you are starting a business in this field and you should be passionate about it, then the process of business planning won’t feel like work. And the more preparation you do before you call in the experts can save time, money and undue stress. And this is as close to instant gratification as it comes.

Fear of Risk and Business: The Scary World of Creativity

Businesses and their love/hate relationship with creativity

Business seems to have a love/hate relationship with creativity, innovation and fear of risk. They love the idea, but the whole process of bringing a new idea to market carries an element of risk. That’s the part that doesn’t go over so well. Business seems to be comfortable with processes and expected outcome, which is at odds with the whole creative process. I’ve seen companies try and embrace creativity, but only to fail by stifling the process.
If business knows where the innovation will end up, then the whole creative process becomes an implementation project, innovation. Implementation is part of the process however, but the whole creative process involves an element of mess, conflict, emotion, and even a few casualties along the way. When those elements of experimentation are removed from the process, then we aren’t really innovating. If you don’t have a few failures along the way, then you’re not stepping outside of your comfort zone. And that’s where true innovation lies.

Inaction equates a fear of risk

Fear of risk often equates to standing still or adapting at a very slow pace. Opportunities seem to pass by, and this is a truly bad position to be in as a business. If you’re competition is innovating, how will you continue to compete in the future? Time does not stand still, and we must constantly look to the future for ways to innovate and create in order to remain relevant in the near future and beyond. The truth is that the best scientists, the greatest entrepreneurs, designers, politicians and CEOs are all creative. We as human beings like to think that they can be creative. It’s time to tap into that creativity and start coming up with true innovation, for small businesses, large, and for society. Eliminating fear of risk can open up a world of potential for businesses.

 

 

Using Twitter for small businesses and what you should tweet about

Twitter is a great resource for your small business. It allows you to have a direct connection with your customers. But many entrepreneurs don’t realize that it’s a good idea to have a personal Twitter account that is visible to your customers. When checking brands out, people like to get an idea of the “brains behind the brand”. It gives your customers the chance to connect on a more personal level. But it can be confusing as to what to tweet about.
Here’s our guide to using Twitter for small businesses.

Giving your customers a behind the scenes glimpse into your mind is a great way to cultivate a deeper relationship with your small business. But when it comes to small businesses and their owners, the two are closely linked. So how do you create a personal Twitter feed that is separate (but related) to your business Twitter feed? What sort of things should you tweet about? Here’s a few ideas on tweets for your personal Twitter feed.

Article links

Sharing information that you come across is a good way to shed some insight into how you operate. But only if you add your personal opinion about what is being covered in the article. Let the world know where you stand on certain issues related to your small business. But be careful. Don’t try to be too controversial or divisive in your opinions. Take a stand, but be cautious of how others might perceive your opinions. And keep your article subject matter relevant to your business. Stay away from subjects like politics or religion, unless of course that is what your small business deals with.

Snippets of your life

Sharing glimpses into you personal life can really resonate with your customer base. Share personal news with your customers, such as events, holidays and other things that you would share with close friends. It gives your customers the sense that they are closer to you and your small business. Also think about sharing unusual things that you come across in everyday life. If something catches your eye, then it will probably catch the attention of someone else. If you’ve made a fun purchase recently, then share it with your customers. These are great conversation starters.

Life outside of work

Sharing your personal work can be a great way to build those bonds with your customers. If in your spare time you write, or paint or have any other creative hobby, then by all means share your work. It doesn’t have to be about business all the time. Sharing quotes or slices of wisdom that you’ve come across is also a great thing to spread to your customers. Anything that will give a glimpse behind the scenes of your small business makes it more human. And it makes it more relatable to your customers.

The importance of visual identity in branding for small businesses

Branding for small businesses tips rule number one

Often times a company’s brand is mistaken for its visual identity when developing branding for small businesses. A brand is much more than just a company logo. But that’s not to say that the visual identity of a company is not important. The visual identity is what communicates the brand to the consumer. No one has doubted the power of imagery.
Cave dwellers figured out that they could communicate through symbols by drawing on cave walls. And us humans have been using symbols as a method of communication ever since.

Of course, the logo is one part of the visual identity in branding for small businesses. It is important that there is consistency in the application of that logo, along with the appropriate typefaces, colors and language, as to firmly implant the vision, mission and values of a brand in the mind of consumers. Inconsistent messages are confusing. And when we are bombarded with thousands of messages in any given day, it is critical that potential consumers aren’t confused by the messages are sending out. Customers have an overabundance of choice in today’s world and can easily take their business to a competitor. Lost customers equals loss of revenue. Not good.

A visual identity forms the foundation for customer relations

A well-designed and consistent visual identity forms the foundation for building relationships with your customers. It gives your staff a clear understanding of what the business stands for and works as a way to build allegiance to your company rather than pursuing individual goals. It acts as a way to attract a higher quality candidate in the recruitment process. Professionals want to join a company with clearly communicated values that reflect their own personal values.

Is your visual identity accurately reflecting the true essence of your organization? Often times in branding for small businesses, it is important to go through a brand refresh in order to update existing brand to reflect an evolved business strategy. Just like that wallpaper that seemed like a good idea at the time twenty years ago, a brand needs to be evaluated periodically in order to remain competitive in the market.
So don’t be afraid of the visual identity. Make sure that it properly reflects the true essence of your company, and the cost that comes with establishing the identity will pay for itself exponentially in the long run.

Un_Standard can help you plan a branding for small businesses strategy and create a robust visual identity to match your robust business idea. Contact us today for a free initial consultation with no obligation.

Unleash the rebels in your small business

In case you haven’t figured it out by now, Un_Standard is all about individuality. Our motto is to stand out by not blending in. And it takes a certain amount of rebelliousness in order to fully live by this manifesto. It’s good to shake things up from time to time. Those who disagree with the status quo can often see the future more clearly. And innovation is something that we are passionate about. After all, if there weren’t anyone around to challenge the status quo, we’d still be living in caves.

There are rebels among us in the small business world. And they are truly an asset to have. I’m not talking about the rebels without a cause or the ones that are willing to cross the line into being unproductive or doing anything illegal. But ones that can challenge the existing structure and propose a new and improved way to do things are the ones that we are talking about, and the ones to actively seek out for your small business.

Companies that fail to nurture creative opposition can find themselves behind the curve when it comes to innovation and remaining competitive. Rebels can serve as a catalyst for innovation. So when it comes time to make sone hires for your small business, be sure to be on the lookout for those agents of change. Those ones that are able to be creative and visionary enough to be able to shatter outdated policies and practices. Some larger organizations have even hired what they refer to as internal disruption units that can drive innovation. Just be sure to steer clear of management consultants that don’t fit the bill.

So what can you do as a small business to nurture this sort of rebel? There are a few things that you can do to make sure you give those rebels room to work their magic. Unleash the rebels in your small business to unlock their innovation and make your small business more competitive.

Create the right attitude for the organization

We’re not talking about forming committees or anything like that. We’re talking about tolerating those who might push against the status quo and let them feel as if there won’t be any fear of retaliation or discrimination. Factor in room for opposing voices when trying to launch new initiatives. Listen, and then learn.

Keep the opposition consistent

Many small business owners might read a book on inclusiveness and think that the best way to tackle resistance is to encourage participation. But opposition is ongoing, and should be welcomed and not tried to be silenced. Alignment is a moving target.

Creative opposition can raise the accountability of every employee within your organization. And your employees are your greatest asset. Make sure that your rebels have space to operate, feel like they are close and are immensely creative.

traits of a great leader

What Makes A Great Leader

Soar to the heights of a great leader

Not everyone is born to be an entrepreneur, or to lead. If we were all born to lead, then there would be nobody left to follow. But anyway, great leaders tend to have certain characteristics that set them apart from the herd. Personality traits, that can often times be misinterpreted as weaknesses, but when properly channeled can signify the spark of an entrepreneur.

Are you easily bored? Perhaps the reason for that is that you’ve chewed through activities that aren’t up to your abilities and don’t present themselves as a challenge. This is generally one of the indicators early in life that a budding entrepreneur is coming into their own. Great minds need to be challenged, and when a great mind is placed amongst those that don’t measure up, then boredom sets in.

Constantly questioning the status quo? Remember, the status quo is for the common folk. Who wants to be average when you can be exceptional? If you think that it doesn’t make sense to keep doing things the same way over and over just because that’s the way they’ve always been done without explanation, then you have the power to change things. Or at least upset the status quo from time to time. You don’t get ahead by following the pack. Greatness lies outside of the lines of conformity.

Do you realize that you’re a bit different from everyone else? This can be the motivation that you need to acknowledge the entrepreneur in you just dying to get out.  Rebelling against the norm is a normal pattern in your life. It’s good to channel that sense of rebellion into a company and start innovating.

Always trying to make improvements on everything around you? Opinionated and always willing to offer your perspective on things, you constantly see ways to make things better. Here’s a perfect opportunity to channel that spirit in developing a product that improves the lives of those around you. Or better yet, expand into improving the lives of people on the other side of the planet.

Can’t switch off at night? Do you lie in bed trying to get some seriously needed sleep, but can’t quite switch off and drift into blissful slumber? Do those voices keep telling you about the next great idea that you need to start to work on in the morning? There’s just too much energy to burn to switch off and relax.

Depending on how you look at it, any of those traits could be thought of as a weakness. And it’s important to understand where your weaknesses lie as an individual. Understanding weak areas is in fact a strength. You don’t always lead with your strengths, but with your weaknesses. Make those weaknesses benefit your leadership style, and then you’ll come across as authentic.  Get those people in around you to compliment  your strong areas and fill in the gaps of where you are weak, and then you have the start of building a winning team.

Set Your Small Business Up On A Fast Track For Success

Nobody said that starting your own business was going to be easy. You’re forced to face your limitations and accept that sometimes what looked great on paper can be not so great in real life. But establishing successes early on in the course of your startup can lead to even more success. It can be a huge morale boost, add credibility to what you are doing and encourage potential customers to check you out. But how do you set your small business up on a fast track for success?

It’s not difficult to get your small business on the fast track for success. With the right mind set and realistic expectations, your startup can flourish. Here’s a few ways to start the fast track for success for your small business.

Aim low

We all know that an entrepreneur is passionate about what they do. Otherwise, they’d do something else. Their little fledgling startup is going to change the course of humankind. And there is a possibility that it might just do that. And Oprah might just be calling you up to see if you’re free for lunch. But if your ambitions are lofty once out of the starting gate, even moderate successes won’t seem up to snuff. It’s best to take a pragmatic approach and set those goals at a realistic level so that you are able to recognize and appreciate the good in your startup.

Start small

Chances are that your startup won’t have offices in every corner of the earth. It would be nice, but it’s going to take a lot of startup capital. And if Warren Buffet isn’t your uncle, then it’s a good idea to scale those ambitions back and concentrate on your local market. Startup costs will be lower, operations costs will be lower, and you’ll have the chance to test your ideas out before taking them to a wider audience. If there’s a chance that things need to be tweaked, then you’ll have the chance to make those revisions. And that saves time and money in the long run.

Go for the easy targets

Sometimes, it’s best to go for those opportunities on our doorsteps. When planning for your startup, you would have already identified the easy targets. The ‘low hanging fruit’. Concentrate on getting results from the easy target, and that will give you the confidence to go after the progressively more elusive (but still relevant) targets.

Make friends

We here at Un_Standard are huge advocates of partnering up with other businesses. After all, two heads are better than one. See if there are any businesses out there that seem to be a natural fit and complimentary to your startup, and see if this new partnership can go after new clients/customers. If the fit is right, then everyone benefits. Time to dust off the Rolodex!