During my years as a small business consultant, I found many owners that hired me to help them stand out in crowded markets. At times, these owners worried that their dreams would end due to an inundated market. There are steps that you can take to help to ensure that your dream will continue for many years to come.
Know Your Core Customers
Many small business owners will spend hours going over their number, but do not consider the people behind them. Most people will call these people your "regulars" or "guaranteed clients." I prefer to consider them as the core of the business. Make sure that you take steps to befriend as many of your core customers as possible and learn their specific needs.
I had a client that owned a used bookstore. Near the phone, he kept a list of about 20 customers and what types of books they collected along with their phone numbers. By keeping his eyes open for these specific customers, he has been able to increase his business exponentially. These customers enjoy telling their friends about his store.
Be Out There
Your customers should know who you are. There is an old saying that "people buy from people that they know." Customers like to see the owner working alongside her workforce. Your clients will feel more important if you show up from time to time instead of simply sending a company rep. Your online customers are sure to read the messages from the company owner. If customers and clients feel like they know you, they will return.
Exploit Social Media
While most companies will do what they can to create a presence on social media sites, few will ever make a substantial impact. I have a friend that owns a gaming store. Per my suggestion, he takes a few moments out of every day to post messages on Facebook about new stock. He will also post any policy changes or other important information. He has learned that this simple measure has increased his sales. This constant contact with his core customers is an extra step to what I mentioned above.
Do Not Hold Off
The saying of "don't hold off to tomorrow what you can do today" is as important to standing out in a crowded market as it is to anything else. If you come up with a new idea, follow it immediately. If you don't, chances are good that one of your competitors is going to come up with the same or similar idea and take a percentage of your market share. Customers are encouraged by forward-thinking companies. Think about new methods or ideas and they will be drawn to you.
Don't Be Afraid to Fire
You should never be afraid to fire someone if he or she does not fit into the atmosphere that you are trying to create. This is your business, and you have to take care of every hurdle that you can. If a person has poor morale, the sentiment could flow through to the customer. Workers that do not like a business will drag that business down. Do not be afraid to fire bad apples.
When considering how to stand out in a crowded market, many small business owners will listen to all types of advice. You are not going to be successful if you just listen to advice. You need to put that advice into action. Look over this list again and consider how each of these points will fit into your business. Don't just listen. You also need to act -- or your competitors will beat you to the punch.
Read more by L. Vincent Poupard.
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