Businesses Reemerge to Reach for Better Results and Higher Profits
After a tough year, business owners still standing wear it as a badge of courage. Struggles continue while entrepreneurs hope the worst is behind them.
James L Katzaman
Selling value rather than price has greater appeal for everyone
After another tough year, business owners still standing wear it as a badge of courage. Struggles continue while entrepreneurs feel relief as perhaps the worst is behind them.
“We all need joy,” said Gigi Peterkin. “This year has been a journey. We’re on the other side, and all is going very well. We learned a lot about reactions and attraction this year.”
Public relations is Peterkin’s gateway for her and her clients to blaze new paths to marketing through her AMPLIFY PR agency. Peterkin’s goal is to lead the PR revolution for women entrepreneurs and traditionally marginalized leaders.
Taylor owns DIYMarketers, “committed to helping small business owners get out of overwhelm.” Ignjatovic is a marketing, strategy and business consultant.
All three business owners assessed their climates with an eye toward finding the right customers.
Their best customer-getting tactics depend on taking the initiative or as Taylor put it, “Content and literally asking for the gig.”
Ignjatovic had similar advice.
“I ask for a new project,” she said. “Even if it’s a short-term thing, I take it if I like it. That’s good for my curriculum vitae. Plus, I expand my skills.”
That fits well with what business applications provider CGSinc found in its survey: 94 percent of consumers expect customer support to become more technologically advanced.
“I plan to focus on larger companies and selling specific offers,” Taylor said. “I’ve been doing some more stuff with video as well, but boy that is lots of ‘takes’ and retakes.”
For more tips, DIYMarketers has an article, “How to Get Customers When You’re Desperate.”
“First, I’ll focus on the clients who I have now and see how to secure them,” Ignjatovic said. “Then I’ll take on one — maybe two — new projects. I’ll also focus on the retainer and longer projects.”
For customer-getting ideas, you could use friends and associates as sounding boards, but small real-time experiments might be best.
“I have to try different things and variations,” Taylor said. “I keep track of what works best and double down.”
Probe CX looks at the receiving end of the equation. Its survey found that 49 percent of consumers feel engagement over their preferred contact channel is the most important aspect of a good customer experience.
“It’s a test-and-trial approach,” Ignjatovic said. “I have to try and see what gets the best response.”
To establish your customers’ needs it helps to pose the right questions.
“I ask them what’s different about where they are and where they want to be in six months,” Peterkin said. “What are their goals? How will they measure success? Then I ask for their marketing goals so we can align PR with them.”
Taylor also makes sure that potential customers match with what she can provide.
“I always ask what their overall goals are,” she said. “I also ask what results would have them be a hero in their organization. Don’t just listen to hear. Listen for what matters to people.”
Account for Social Media
One such consideration would be social media. For example, one marketer claims to draw 80 percent of business from Twitter.
“I ask potential customers about their challenges and what is the result they expect,” Ignjatovic said. “I also ask what has prevented them from reaching their goals so far.”
There are varied reasons why their best customers choose to work with a business.
“Because we focus on women, they relate to or see themselves in my story,” Peterkin said. “We get great results. Seriously, it’s a tie.”
Being quick to act is a surefire way to bring results.
“The biggest reason clients choose me is that I’m quick to respond, get things done early and get very invested in the results,” Taylor said.
“I’m good at what I do,” Ignjatovic said. “I’m reliable, consistent, they can trust me, and I grow with them. I’m not stuck in the past with my knowledge.
“Not every client is happy to hear certain things, but they all appreciate the honesty,” she said. “They like the fact that I think about their business — at least that was my experience in the last 20 years.”
A competitor offers roughly the same products and services that you promote to the public.
“For me, that’s a PR business with the same or similar services who works to deliver the same or similar outcomes for women CEOs and entrepreneurs — our target market,” Peterkin said.
“Our competitors are also similar in size,” she said. “We don’t compete with the huge PR firms. We don’t have the resources.”
All Things Being Equal
In Taylor’s case, size doesn’t matter.
“A competitor is any alternative a customer has to a specific problem they are trying to solve,” she said. “Even though there are other agencies like you, people just choose you because they like working with you.”
For more connection tips, DIYMarketers has a post, “14 Ways to Get New Leads.”
“What competitor?” Ignjatovic asked. “Yes, there are people who offer the same or similar services, but only a few are on my level. It’s difficult to find a reliable and dedicated person you can trust with all your passwords and company data.”
Don’t obsess about the competition, but keep an eye on them for whenever they promote a different product or approach that you can counteract with your superior solutions.
“We do about a six-month assessment of competitors, not focused on them,” Peterkin said. “We focus on serving our clients and our zones of genius.
“Everybody else is gonna do what they’re gonna do,” she said. “They’re not us. We do check up on the media coverage and clients they get.”
Taylor wears blinders when it comes to other companies.
“I’m not a big believer in competition,” she said. “Each business is unique. Customers make their choices accordingly.”
If your niche is business-to-business clientele, Ruler Analytics has found that LinkedIn is the most effective social media channel for B2B lead generation.
“I’m really focused on my work,” Ignjatovic said. “I monitor tendencies and trends, plus what could be the next new thing for me to expand my services.”
Act Like a Person
Businesses can provide a sense of purpose and make customers feel genuinely valued by interactions. Personally interact with them, remembering that a chatbot is not a person.
“Our sense of purpose comes from our core values,” Peterkin said. “Those drive our business. Employees and clients sign that they will abide by these values.
“Customers feel well valued when you value them,” she said. “Care about the people more than the account.”
Keep in mind that those you work with are not a thing.
“Customers are people,” Taylor said. “Customers want to be seen, heard and taken care of. It doesn’t really matter what the product or service is.”
One approach is to use content themes. Ask yourself what type of information your customers would want to know from you.
“Show them you care,” Ignjatovic said. “Be proactive. Show initiative, and that you think about their needs before they think of them.”
In their pursuit to win and keep customers, people make big mistakes.
“They try to be everything to everyone and not focus on their niche,” Peterkin said. “They try to ‘grab’ too many clients without focusing on who their skills and services can serve best.”
People try to win customers by applying pressure and trashing competitors who they do business with. That’s not how you win friends — but you do influence people in all the wrong ways.
All About Value, Not Price
“That approach is so counterproductive,” Ignjatovic said. “It speaks volumes, but not about the competition.
“Mistakes happen when businesses are focused on price and not on value,” she said. “It’s great to know the problem, but focus on the solution. That’s why we are paid.”
Taylor added that the biggest miscues are when people focus on what they are selling instead of the customer who is buying.
Bring a prospect one step closer to being a loyal customer by having a demonstrated track record of how you’ve engaged, helped and followed up with other people having similar problems. People respond to deeds not words.
“One action I can take is to promote something for a brand I’m building relationships with,” Taylor said.
Ignjatovic plans to attract customers by being more active on social media and dedicating time to nurture relationships.
“For us, the best action is to connect with prospects one on one,” Peterkin said. “That’s what we’re doing today.”
About The Author
James L Katzaman
Jim Katzaman is a manager at Largo Financial Services and worked in public affairs for the Air Force and federal government. You can connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.