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.

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!

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.

 

 

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.

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.’

Essential Sales Lead Tools For Small Businesses

Sales lead tools can be invaluable to a business. But many small businesses don’t have the money available to spend on these sorts of tools that larger businesses have. But that doesn’t mean that essential sales lead tools aren’t available for small businesses.
We’ll take a look at three tools that don’t cost an arm and a leg, and they aren’t LinkedIn or Facebook (not that there’s anything wrong with LinkedIn and Facebook. They’re both great resources for small and big businesses alike).

Jigsaw

Jigsaw is owned by salesforce.com and combines social media and lead generation. Businesses can earn points for adding contacts into the Jigsaw database. And those points work like frequent flyer miles, where they can be used to get free contacts. Subscriptions to this service start around $250 per year, but it’s free to earn contacts by sharing contacts.

ZoomInfo Community

ZoomInfo gives users access to a database of 60 million business contacts. That’s a whole lot of contacts to mine! The free edition asks for your contacts in exchange. There’s a plethora of plugins that link with Outlook or Google Apps, which makes this a very easy resource to use. You can even export the contacts that you get into a CRM system like Salesforce or Capsule.

Lead411

Lead411 offers users a simple searchable database of contacts at the reasonable rate of around $30 a month. You can gain access to more contact by upgrading your subscription.

Beware The Energy Suckers

We’ve all encountered the energy sucker at some point in our lives. They’re the ones that seem to suck the life out of a room the moment they step through the door. They’re the ones that you feel as if you need to prepare yourself when you’re forced to interact with them. And they can be devastating to the life of your small business if you have one on your payroll.

It’s amazing just how many small business owners can be held captive by the energy suckers. These creatures can actually seem to be very productive on the surface. They can be the star salesman (or woman) on the team. But often times they achieve their numbers through mind games, creating an internal “us-versus-them” situation. And that can be detrimental to the life of a small business.

These energy vampires can drive away the talent that you actually need to run a successful small business. They chase away the talent that you need, and ironically you end up relying on them even more as your business progresses.

So why don’t you just get rid of the energy sucker? Often times, small business owners tend to rationalize their existence. Other times, they might be hard to identify. Here’s a few warning signs that a member of your team is actually an energy vampire and should be set free to haunt another small business. Preferably one of your competitors.

There’s always a problem

It doesn’t have to be the same problem each time. It can be different each time, but it seems as if you are spending a disproportionate amount of time on their issues compared to the rest of your team.

There seems to be a black cloud permanently hanging over their desk

There could be that one individual with that “us versus them” mentality that is slowly damaging the delicate fabric that stitches your organization together. They constantly bicker and complain, causing your employees to focus on the bad rather than the good.

They follow you home in your mind

There you are, trying to relax over the weekend. But you can’t because the image of your energy sucker keeps popping up in your mind.  You try to switch off, but it’s no use. When a difficult employee is haunting your personal life, it’s time for them to hit the road.

Don’t be afraid to trust your instincts when it comes to setting your energy sucker free. Your gut instinct will tell you that it’s time for this person to go.  You’ll know the difference between those employees that are just having a bad day to those energy suckers. Your business will thank you for it in the long run.

making mistakes

Failure Isn’t Necessarily A Bad Thing

Failing from time to time isn’t always bad.

What doesn’t kill you can only make you stronger.

Running your own business can be a rewarding as well as challenging experience. The rewards can be great, and setbacks can be devastating. But encountering failures from time to time in business isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Having a few missteps along the way is one indicator of innovation. If you haven’t gotten your fingers burned a few times, then you aren’t challenging yourself. A mistake can’t be labeled as a mistake if you’ve learned a valuable lesson from them.

As an entrepreneur, you want to take risks, but there are ways to manage the downside to offset the implications if those risks go wrong. You don’t really learn from successes, but failures can teach you some valuable lessons. Along the way, you learn what works and what doesn’t work. And going forward, you can apply those valuable lessons learned to make your business stronger. Experience is an amazing teacher.

Failure can have an adverse effect upon morale. As long as you keep a positive attitude toward failure and not let it consume you, then you have the right attitude toward setbacks and a willingness to learn from them.  Some of the world’s greatest innovators had missteps early on, and learned valuable lessons along the way.

Remember, when you are truly innovative, you will have a lot of naysayers standing in your way. You mustn’t be worries about what people will say about you. It’s up to the entrepreneur to take those risks and move society forward. The future is yours, and don’t forget it. Happy exploring!

How to Write a Business Plan in Thirty Minutes

When planning a business, there’s quite a bit to take in to consideration. And, there are plenty of variables that can drastically alter your business model. One of the key things that Un_Standard recommends in the early stages of business planning is to do a brain dump and get the first business model on paper in about a half an hour. It is highly likely that “plan A” will turn out to not be feasible, so it is important to have a plan b, a plan c and a plan d. Never waste six months in trying to prove that your Plan A isn’t feasible. It is crucial to test out all of your business scenarios until you find the one that works.

In this initial brain dump, be sure to summarize the following important points:

  • Who are your customers? What do you know about them? Gain as much knowledge about your customers and get inside their minds. Figure out what makes them tick.
  • What is your company’s unique value proposition? What sets you apart from your competition and worthy of gaining the attention of your most valuable resource, your customers?
  • Now that you’ve figured out your target audience and what sets you apart from the competition, now comes the tricky part. How will your business deliver your unique value proposition to your target customers?

Once you’ve built this basic planning model, spin it a couple of ways. Try to introduce different scenarios in your solutions to see what comes up. Because, for anyone who has ever planned a business, you would know that it is wise to expect the unexpected. Be sure to cover as much ground as possible, because you never know what curveball that the market will toss to you. The more you plan upfront, the more resilient and robust your business will be down the road.

When planning your business in the early stages, the best business ideas come from personal experience. Your next business idea can come from an issue you’ve wrestled with first hand. Chances are, there are other people wrestling with the same problem. And if you can come up with an innovative solution to that problem, then you’ve got a captive audience for your business launch.