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 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.

Create A Culture Of Innovation At Your Small Business

Innovation might not be at the top of the list of priorities when you are setting up a new small business. But considering what is happening in larger companies like Google, you might want to reconsider and move “innovation” on to the list of top priorities. Google is shifting the way that they do business and that shift can give small businesses ideas on how to modify their own business models.
Here are a few ideas on how you can create a culture of innovation at your small business.

Change your environment

This is probably the best place to start in creating a culture of innovation at your small business. Environment plays a huge role in promoting a culture of innovation. There are numerous firms out there that specialize in creating office environments that foster creativity. Take a look at Google’s office complex or the offices of advertising agency Chiat Day. If you haven’t yet received your invitation to tour either of those offices, you can take a look at photos of Google here and of Chiat Day here.

Now, Google and Chiat Day had a budget of millions to work with to invest in creating their space. But there are things that you can do within your own space that won’t break the bank. Consider ditching the beige and gray cubicle layout for something that reflects the values of your own brand. Make the environment more warm, more inviting and more fun. Small changes can have a big impact on moving toward creating your own culture of innovation within your small business.

 Search for the renegades

As we’ve previously covered in other articles, the success of your small business lies with the first ten people you bring on board. We’ve also discussed that the rebels out there can be instrumental in unleashing a whole culture of innovation for your small business. Be selective when it comes to bringing in the ones that are going to be the face of your business. And always be on the lookout for the ones that have the ability to shake things up from time to time and shed a new perspective on doing things.

Become friends with influential people

Another great way to create a culture of innovation in your small business is to become friendly with other like minded organisations. After all, two heads are better than one. But don’t stop there. Become friendly with some of the big players like there. Larger companies are always on the lookout for new innovative ideas and businesses that they can add to their portfolio. And one of those could be your small business. Many larger companies are partnering with small businesses to compensate for any areas where they might not be as strong. Be sure that the fit is mutually beneficial, and that way every party is happy. That should be a good incentive to set up your own culture of innovation within your small business. Happy innovating!

Time For A Marketing Makeover

There comes a point in any marketing campaign when it is time for a marketing makeover. It keeps things fresh and gets the attention of those that you want to (when done properly). One of the easiest places to start with your marketing makeover is with your online presence. If you need to spruce up your marketing, then creating a compelling web presence is a good place to start.

When refreshing your online presence, it is important to carefully think about your content. Plan ahead and make sure that your presence is cohesive. Create content that is relevant to your small business. Choose about ten topics that you think will be relevant to your readers (and customers) and create content around those topics. Set up a calendar so that you update your content on a regular basis. And stick to it (believe me, we can be guilty of not sticking to our editorial calendar).

WordPress is a fantastic way to manage your small business presence online. It’s intuitive, it’s popular and there are millions of options for how you can customize it. And better yet, WordPress is pretty SEO friendly. There are a host of plugins for WordPress that can help boost your SEO.

WordPress SEO

WordPress SEO – this is a really handy resource when it comes to reminding you to include all of the things that you need for better SEO when you write your articles. Having this plugin really helps you be smarter with SEO on your site.

Contextual Related Posts

Contextual Related Posts – this is another handy plugin that adds links to related posts that you have written at the end of your articles. This gives readers the opportunity to click through your website instead of going off somewhere else.

Also, when you’re creating content, it’s important to listen to what is going on around you in order to stay relevant. When you listen, you’ll find out what is going on and you’ll be able to keep up with the paces of your industry. There are some great resources online where you can gather this intelligence. Twitter is a great place to start. Create lists to see what is going on in your industry and to keep tabs on your competition. Google Alerts are another great place to gather intelligence. Create alerts relevant for your industry for writers who frequently write about your category.

Some other great resources to use are Alltop, which compiles the content of some of the most influential people within your industry. Quora is another great place to hang out to gather intelligence. Here you can understand what sorts of questions are being asked within your industry. This might shed some light on an opportunity to take advantage of with your name on it.

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.

Marketing plans to keep your business running smoothly

We’ve all heard the arguments and excuses on why a business doesn’t need to invest in marketing. After all, if you build it, they’ll surely come, right? Why not concentrate on other more productive areas, such as sales? After all, marketing is just an expense, right?

Well, if only that were true. And that we lived in a world where there was no competition and your business was the only game in town. If we believe that we are alone in offering a fantastic product coupled with great service, then there wouldn’t be the need to advertise. The reality is, that there is competition all around, and consumers have choices with whom to do business with. Even in the Business-To-Business arena. After all, businesses are made up of people, and people make purchasing decisions based upon emotion. Marketing gives those potential consumers the chance to get to know your business and soften the sales process. If you don’t control the messages that your business is sending out, then those messages will control you.

When developing a marketing plan, it is important to understand how your business is perceived, and how you would want it to be perceived. If there is a disconnect, then a solid marketing plan would help shape perceptions to move to where you want to be. Another important aspect is to understand what makes you unique. Why would a customer come to you instead of the competition? What sets you apart? What makes you special? The marketing strategy is the ideal place to communicate what sets you apart to your customers.

Marketing is designed to precondition the sale. It does not sell, but creates the platform for a relationship. It does not close the deal, but gives reason why your customers should choose to do business with you. Marketing can work hard on your behalf if you allow it to happen. Choose your tactics wisely, map out a plan, put it into action and watch monitor the results to see what adjustments need to be made. Marketing, when executed properly, has a profound effect on sales. We have experience in creating marketing strategies for a wide range of businesses all over the world, from startups to huge multinational corporations. We’ve been there and achieved results. Get in touch with Un_Standard today to nail that marketing strategy.

For a limited time, we are offering a free initial consultation without any further obligation. Be sure to subscribe to our Facebook page to receive a discount off of our rates. Don’t let your business fade into the background. Connect with your customers. Set yourself apart from the competition.

Think Un_Standard. Be. Un_Standard.’

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!

The Small Business Mentors Every Business Owner Should Have

Running a small business can be very rewarding. It can also be one of the biggest challenges that you face in life. You don’t always have the same resources available to you when you had your cushy job in corporate America. But now you’re doing things on your own. It can be very lonely sometimes, as it seems as if there is nobody to turn to for advice. And that’s where mentors come in handy.
Every small business owner should have a small business mentor around to call on every now and again. They’re great for bouncing ideas off of and asking for advice, and are essential to the success of a small business.

I’ve been lucky to have a couple of small business mentors over the years. They’ve come from many different backgrounds, which is good because they offer a wide spectrum of viewpoints. Despite all of the challenges of running a business, the advice received from my mentors has been the biggest constant in my career.

Don’t have any small business mentors? Actually, they’re all around you. Here are some ideas of places to look for your mentors.

A friend from way back

A friend who knew you before you even knew what a startup was is a great way to stay grounded. They can speak to your roots and help you when you get lost in the haze of your small business. They’re great for reminding you to slow down and enjoy life. They remind you to live the life that you want while doing what you love. And no entrepreneur should ever lose sight of that.

A colleague

Having regular get togethers with people who are in a similar stage of development is a great thing to have. They can give you the sense that you’re not alone and can be willing to lend an ear when the going gets rough. The relationship is mutual, because you would do the same for them.

A colleague that is difficult to work with

Part of being an entrepreneur is crafting your business idea and selling it to the world, whether its customers or investors. You need to have that ability to sell. And who better to fine tune that selling ability than someone that you don’t naturally get along with.

A colleague with a contrasting skill set to yours

It’s important to attack a situation from every angle. So why on earth would you only want to surround yourself with only one type of person? Get those opposing viewpoints. Get those different perspectives. It will help you refine your business and your bottom line.

A recent friend who knows you as an entrepreneur

Try and schedule regular get togethers with someone who knows your entrepreneurial self, and nothing else. They’re good for getting down to business and pushing you forward. They’ll have a good grasp on your business style and can really be great for inspiring you to go forward.