How to find customers you want to work with

Our customers are the lifeblood of our businesses, the very reason we can open our doors each day and do what we love. While many are brilliant to work with, some have the ability to drain the time, energy, ideas and life out of us.

While every customer gives us the opportunity to learn and improve, I’m sure we’d all rather work with customers that challenge us for all the right reasons. So how do you find the customers you want to work with and not just have to work with? Here are four tips to help.

1. Know who you want to work with

The first step in finding the customers you want to work with is to know who they are. If you can’t clearly identify who you are looking for, how are you meant to find them?  Take a look at their defining characteristics. Do they come from a particular industry or location? Do they have a specific income, turnover or budget? Do they share a particular problem, want or need? Do they have a certain mindset?

The clearer you can be on your ideal customers characteristics, the easier it will be to find where they are, what they read, watch and listen to and who influences them.

2. Build a business they want to do business with

Now that you have a clear idea of the customer you are targeting, determine what kind of brand they want to do business with. What personality and image would attract them? What benefits or solutions do they want from your products and services? What sales and marketing messages have worked to attract these customers in the past? What information must they know to buy from you? What testimonials from past ideal customers can you use to attract them?

Once you have the answers, proactively build a business that they will want to do business with. 

3. Communicate your vision and ‘why’

As Simon Sinek so wisely said, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”. Communicate your vision and why to your customers. Make your business bigger than the products and services you provide. 

Step away from the thousands of businesses who do what you do and give your business a bigger purpose, passion, cause or meaning. Then communicate it authentically to your customers.

4. Remember like attracts like

Like attracts like, so in order for you to attract your ideal customers look at who you need to become as a person and as a business owner. How do you need to talk, act and present? Who do you need to be associating with? What referral partners and strategic alliances do you need to form that will also attract your ideal customers? What circles do you need to be mixing in?

The people you want to work with are within your reach; you may just need to stretch yourself to get to them.

Amanda


Is the price right?

Nothing can cause confusion and doubt in a business like pricing your products and services. While you don’t want to charge less than you are worth, you also don’t want to price yourself out of the market, so how do you know if your price is right?

Whether you are starting out or starting over, here are five factors to consider when pricing your products and services.

1. Costs

First and foremost you need to be financially informed. Before you set your pricing work out the costs involved with running your business. These include your fixed costs (the expenses that will come in every month regardless of sales) and your direct costs (the expenses you incur by producing and delivering your products and services).

2. Customers

Know what your customers want from your products and services. Are they driven by the cheapest price or by the value they receive? What part does price play in their purchase decision? 

Also look at what you are selling, are your current customers buying high-end or low-end products and services? This information will help you determine if your price is right, what level of service or inclusions you should be offering and lastly if you are targeting the right market. It may be that you need to change your market to make your business more profitable.

3. Positioning

Once you understand your customer, you need to look at your positioning. Where do you want to be in the marketplace? Do you want to be the most expensive, luxurious, high-end brand in your industry, the cheapest, beat it by 10% brand or somewhere in the middle? Once you have decided, you will start to get an idea of your ideal pricing. 

4.  Competitors

This is one of the key times you can give yourself permission to do a little competitor snooping. What are they charging for different products and services? What inclusions and level of service are they offering for those prices? What customers are they attracting with their pricing? And how are they positioned in the marketplace? The answers to these questions will give you an industry benchmark for your pricing.

5. Profit

One of the most important questions business owners neglect to ask themselves is “How much profit do I want to make?” They tend to look at what others charge and then pull a figure out of the air to be competitive without giving consideration to how much profit the want and need.

While you may be in business for the passion and to add value to the lives of others, you also need to add value to your own. So give careful consideration to what your time is worth.

How do you determine your pricing?

Amanda


How to manage fast growth and maintain your reputation

For many entrepreneurs starting a business comes with the dream of creating a fast growing company that customers love. But as demand grows and sales soar you can suddenly be faced with some very real and different challenges that you may not have planned for in your start-up. 

Sometimes all takes is one big customer, one media opportunity or one photo, status or campaign to go viral and you can be faced with a flood of enquiries and sales. To ensure you handle your growth effectively and maintain your reputation along the way here are five points to keep in mind. 

1. Streamline

The more you systemise and streamline each task the quicker it will be to complete and the easier it will be to outsource or delegate to new and existing team members as your business grows. 

Ideally you want to be systemising from start-up while still keeping your processes fluid enough to grow with you. This will ensure you can grow easily with minimal disruption to your business operations. 

2. Delegate

When you are experiencing high growth your time needs to be spent as productively and profitably as possible. Be ruthless with your to-do list and make sure any tasks that aren’t a good use of your time is delegated to another team member or outsourced professional.

3. Manage your cash flow

Staffing and other growth expenses can put significant strain on your cash flow, and if not managed effectively can cost you your business even despite its popularity. 

To prevent this, ensure you are receiving regular financial reports so you can prioritise expenses and plan around periods of low cash flow. Also be careful about the staff roles you look to fill first. While you will need support staff to get the tasks done, you will also need sales people to bring in new business to cover your growing expenses. 

4. Keep marketing

While stopping your marketing may seem like a good idea during high growth periods, it can drastically affect your cash flow. With increased expenses you need to ensure you have consistent income coming in. 

If you are considering stopping or slowing your marketing down, make these decisions based around your sales figures and budget forecast. Know where your leads are coming from as well as your slow periods, lead time and conversion rate. 

5. Watch your capacity

To maintain your reputation you need to grow your capacity as your business grows. Make sure you can comfortably service all of your existing customers and exceed their expectations as well as any new customers you bring on board. Your existing customer base really is your gold mine; they are the best source of new business so it is important not to burn them. 

Before you bring in new business or say yes to a project, ask yourself “Can I service this customer effectively and provide real value?” if the answer is yes, go for it, if the answer is no, be honest. If the answer is yes but not yet, then book the work in at a later date. While you may lose a sale, think about how much more you could lose if you can’t deliver and they tell people about their bad experience. 

How do you manage your business growth?

Amanda


Five sources to help you track trends

Want to give your business a competitive edge this year and ensure your products, services, innovations and messages are on market?

One of the best ways to get in front of the pack, attract new leads and build loyalty with existing customers is to identify needs and trends before or as they are coming. 

But how do you predict these changes when there is no crystal ball in business? Here are five sources to watch and utilise.

1. Industry News

One of the first steps in identifying trends is to know your industry intimately. 

Subscribe to industry association newsletters, journals and magazines, set Google alerts for keywords you want to watch, sign up for reports and statistics, do industry surveys (this will give you insight into what information they want to gather) and watch what others are doing in your industry.  

Also read books and blogs (don’t neglect the comment area), attend seminars, visit trade shows and research new techniques, methods and offerings. 

2. Identify key influencers

Do you have any key influencers in your industry? They could be a pioneer from within, or an outside influencer, someone who is not directly in your industry but often leads the way in purchase decisions like a celebrity, blogger, reviewer, commentator or sometimes even family member of your potential customer.

If your customers are looking to them to tell them what and where they should buy, you should be looking at uncovering how you can influence the influencer.

3. Get in the mind of your customer

Your customers will always be your greatest source of information and their opinion is the one that counts the most given they are the ones paying you!

With this in mind do up a survey to ask your customers about what they need and want from your products, services and industry. What frustrations aren’t being met? What ideas do they have for new innovations and offerings? Has their product or service requirements changed as a result of business growth or lifestyle changes? Extract as much information as you can to ensure you are meeting the markets demands.

4. Social media 

Anywhere a lot of your potential customers gather and talk can offer great information on new trends, needs and opportunities. This is why social media is so great, it can give you a lot of feedback and sometimes brutally honest insight into what your customers want, or find interesting. 

Be sure to follow relevant pages and groups, ask questions, do polls, share different information to see what sticks and monitor what goes viral in your industry.

5. Web Resources

There are also numerous websites that can also help you monitor popular content Like Google Trends, YouTube’s trend dashboard, BuzzFeed and Mashable to name a few. 

Now to you, how do you identify trends in your industry?

Amanda


How to find your point of difference

In business it pays to be different, but when you’re selling the same products or services as everyone else in your industry, it can be hard to find a way to differentiate yourself that doesn’t include competing on price.

While it can seem like a good idea to begin with, focusing on price alone means you have to work harder to make a profit, it leaves you vulnerable to competitors who undercut and you tend to attract a certain kind of customer – those difficult, fickle, price-driven customers who will up and leave you the moment they find a cheaper price. 

So how do you find your point of difference when you have the same offering as others? Here are six ideas to get you thinking about how you can differentiate your business without competing on price.

1. Experience or expertise

Take a closer look at what you personally bring to your business and clients that your competitors don’t.

  • Have you been in business longer?
  • Have you had more industry experience?
  • Have you built your business out of your own need so have first-hand experience with the issue your clients are facing?
  • Do you specialise in an area most don’t?
  • Do you have any specific qualifications that are hard to attain or very exclusive?
  • Have you dealt with difficult or uncommon situations that have given you more specialised knowledge
  • Are you or your business more well-known and trusted?
  • Have you worked for any major companies?
  • Have you written a book?
  • Are you a member of any exclusive groups or associations?
  • Have you won an award? 

2. Better processes

Are there any key differences in the way you develop, produce (or source) and deliver your products or services compared to the way others do?

  • Is your project briefing more comprehensive to ensure more tailored products or services?
  • Do you take extra steps to ensure higher quality products or services?
  • Do you follow a specific process or formula that gets more consistent results?  
  • Do you have better client follow up to ensure they received what they needed/wanted?
  • Do you offer a guarantee that is more inclusive or longer than your competitors?

3. Exceptional quality and/or consistent results

Do you produce higher quality products or services or do you get greater or more consistent results? If you can prove you products or services are of a higher standard, have more value or achieve better results than your competitors, a potential client will quickly select your business even if you are more expensive.

  • Have you helped a large percentage of clients achieve something? (70% of clients achieve their goal weight within six months of training with you)
  • Do you have quantifiable results that are proven through testimonials or case studies? (Doubling profit, halving expenses)
  • Do your products last longer or work faster?
  • Are they more environmentally friendly or energy efficient?
  • Do you use more stronger, durable and/or safer materials?
  • Do you as a business have a better safety record?
  • Do you have the exclusive rights to sell a particular brand or product? 

4. A wider range of products or services

Do you or could you offer a wider range of products or services than your competitors? 

  • Do you have a wider range of colours, shapes or styles?
  • Do you have it available in different material?
  • Do you have better or more add-ons?
  • Do you offer (or have you aligned with other businesses to offer) a one stop shop of services?
  • Do you include “how to” guides, workshops, or webinars on how to get the most from your products or as a value add for your services?

5. More personalised and/or quicker service

Do you provide a really quick turnaround on products or services compared to others in your industry? Or a more personalised service where your competitors are faceless? Many people will choose a business and pay more if products and services are recieved quicker and/or they have the convenience of being able to contact someone easily.

  • Will customers always talk to a human being or only be on hold for a certain period of time? (particularly important in industries where you are normally left on hold or have to do everything through a website and not talk to someone)
  • Are you easier to get hold of?
  • Are you available for longer hours or have an emergency after hours call service (if applicable to your industry)?
  • Do you have a set time you answer enquiries by?
  • Do you ship products or deliver services quicker?
  • Do you have a guaranteed delivery time?
  • Do you give your clients more one-on-one time?
  • Do you spend more quality time getting to know clients in order to help them better?

6. Well-known clients

Do any well-known individuals or brands use your products or services? Being able to differentiate yourself by the quality of your clients can be a great way to establish credibility and generate publicity for your business. Not only do you appeal to their fans and clients, people will naturally assume you are good if high-profile people or businesses use and endorse your products or services.

Ask your well-known clients if they would mind giving you a testimonial (video is ideal) about how they have enjoyed your products and services. Also ask if you can use their name and logo on your website and in other promotional material, as this will help build credibility and rapport with potential customers. 

There are literally hundreds of ways to differentiate your business and establish your value. The key is to get a little creative. Look closely at the needs and frustrations of your potential clients and what your competitors are doing and more importantly not doing, very soon you will start to identify your existing points of difference and additional opportunities for you to differentiate.

Amanda


Four ways to manage your business reputation

With your business reputation directly linked to your bottom line it is important to do everything you can to build and maintain it. 

While your business will inevitably take knocks from unhappy customers, mistakes you make and decisions you wish you could do-over, by following these four ways to safeguard your reputation you can still preserve your standing in the business world. 

1. Be personable, not personal

A lot of people get this concept confused, especially in the online world. Keep your personal life out of your business life as much as possible. Know what you will and won’t disclose and discuss with your customers, and be mindful of who is on – and who can see, your personal social media profiles.

2. Assume that nothing is private

As a publicist I can’t tell you how many times I see private information become public. Be careful what you put out in the public sphere and who you trust with information. You can only protect your content so much. 

What you write or say can be taken out of context, forwarded on to others or downloaded before you have deleted it, and programs or website changes to rules and settings can leave your information vulnerable. 

The best way to protect yourself and your business is to assume that nothing online or on your devices is private. If you aren’t happy for everyone to see it, don’t send or upload it.

3. Don’t run from adversity or negative feedback

You don’t need to be a saint to maintain a good reputation. We all make mistakes; it’s what we do after that makes the difference to our reputation.

Your character is proven in how you handle adversity, conflict and negative feedback. By taking responsibility for mistakes and handling adversity and negative criticism well (whether right or wrong) not only protects your reputation, it also wins you respect, and can result in more people coming to your aid and wanting to work with you simply because of the attitude you have.

4. Monitor your reputation

As your profile builds it is important to monitor what is being said or published about you. Monitor social media, do regular searches and set Google Alerts for your name, key staff and business name. Being proactive will not only allow you to stay on top of any negative feedback, you will also be able to thank those who are referring and promoting you.

If you do find negative feedback (depending on what has been said), don’t rush to delete it or complain, it can be an opportunity to turn the situation completely around. Many businesses gain likes and customers from social media simply by acknowledging, apologising and offering a solution to an unhappy customer.

How do you manage your business reputation?

Amanda


The biggest point of difference you are underselling

If you are like most business owners your biggest point of difference comes not from what you do or even how you do it, it comes from what you know.

The knowledge you have around your industry, products and services, your customers needs, problems and challenges, the lessons you’ve learnt and the formulas, templates, processes and systems you’ve created based on your knowledge and experience is all extremely valuable. 

What’s more it could be what influences a potential customer in doing business with you over your competitors. Yet most of us undersell it. 

So if by chance you are underselling your knowledge, here are four reasons why you should stop doubting and start sharing.

1. Your industry knowledge isn’t “common sense”

When something comes easy to you, it can be easy to think that it comes easy to everyone else too – but it doesn’t. The truth is you have distinct skills and knowledge that most people will never have. Even the most researched customers won’t come close to what you know.

2. You may share the same expertise, but not the same experience

While you may feel that the industry knowledge you have isn’t unique, that it is shared by anyone working in your industry, your experience is. The experience you have gained from working in your industry day in and day out can’t be replicated.

No one has been exactly where you are today. They haven’t had the same life experiences, the same customers, learned the same business lessons, or had the same setbacks and wins. You are far more knowledgeable than you realise.

3. Your explanation and application could be just what someone needs

Each of us respond better to particular communication and learning styles and build rapport quicker with specific personalities. 

While you may not be the most knowledgeable person in your industry – or even close at this stage, how you explain, implement or package your knowledge could be what spurs a customer or potential customer to finally take action on something they have “heard a hundred times” before.

4. Every great expert started as an amateur

Remember that every great expert and every successful entrepreneur and business leader started out as an amateur. The only difference is they kept learning, growing and sharing what they knew with their staff, customers and the world.

Are you underselling yourself?

Amanda


Three ways to gain more clarity in business

Every minute of every day our brains are filled with thoughts, from client deadlines, to-do’s, calls, meetings, appointments and ideas, to errands, the friends we need to call, the family commitments we have for the week, the things we’ve forgotten to do but still need to do, and on it goes.

With so much action going on all the time, it can become almost impossible to focus on the task at hand. To help you be more clear and precise, here are three ways to gain more clarity in business.

1. Go back to basics

It is easy to get distracted in business. From the regular interruptions of phone, email and social media, to watching what competitors are doing, listening to every bit of customer feedback and innovating products and services to meet market demand and grow, we can lose sight of what we want to achieve in the day, week, month, year and beyond. 

When this happens it’s important to go back to basics. Look at the key markets you are targeting. Have they changed or do they need to change? Profile your current and ideal customers, remembering that your market should be an inch wide (targeted and specific) and a mile deep (lots of interested customers).

Then look over your points of difference, your key messages, your brand positioning, your business SWOT, the ‘why’ you do what you do and what you want to achieve. These business and marketing basics will give you more clarity on your business and help you establish the direction you want and need to take.

2. Simplify

By over complicating tasks and processes, failing to reduce wastes and inefficiencies and refusing to give up control and delegate or outsource, we leave ourselves bogged down in task overload and unable to see beyond our own to-do list.

With complication being the enemy of clarity and creativity, look to simplify. As you go about your day always be asking, “Is there any easier or quicker way to be doing this?” By simplifying, you’ll reduce the time and money spent, and give yourself more brainpower to prioritise and focus on what you really need to be doing.

3. Purge your thoughts

If you are becoming increasingly distracted by thoughts going a million miles an hour, take 5-10 minutes to write down everything that is running through your head.

As tempting as it can be, this is not the time to develop your ideas further or put them into action. You are simply purging your thoughts and ideas to increase your focus and clarity, with the added bonus of providing a point of reference for later.

What are your tricks for gaining more clarity?

Amanda


Six questions to position your brand effectively in the mind of your customers

How your customers and potential customers perceive your brand directly impacts your bottom line. So how do you make sure you position your brand effectively in the mind of your customers? 

Here are six questions to help you ensure your brand is more engaging and appealing to your customers, now and in the future.

1. What do you want your brand to stand for?

Work out what your brand stands for, what the purpose of your business is – beyond making profit and what you’re passionate about. What is your vision? What difference do you want to make in the world? What do you believe in?  What problems are you solving? Do you have a cause?

When you know who you are as a brand, you not only communicate better with your customers and potential customers, you appear to be more authentic. The decisions and actions you take as a business owner can also be considered more carefully to ensure you stay true to what you stand for.

2. Where do you want to be in the market place?

Determine where you want your brand to sit within your market. Do you want to be the luxury, expensive brand of your industry, the cheaper alternative or somewhere in the middle? Do you want to be seen to be more exclusive to a certain group or available to the masses? Are you the optional extra or the essential?

3. What do you want to be known for?

When your customers and potential customers talk about your business or give you a testimonial, what do you want them to say? When someone sees or hears your business name what do you want their first thoughts to be?

Is it your results, professionalism, creativity or innovation? Is it your consistency, quality, simplicity or availability? Choose what you want to be known for and determine what products and services you need to offer, what actions you need to take and customer interactions you need to have in order to achieve it.

4. What personality do you want your brand to have?

Your brand’s personality describes the way your brand thinks, speaks, acts and reacts, which then gets reflected in your social media, blogs, marketing messages and your day-to-day communication with your customers, suppliers and business associates. 

Do you want your brand to be humorous or more serious? Relaxed or professional? Enthusiastic or refined? Elegant or cheap? Young or old? Inspiring or more factual and realistic? Innovative or predictable? Choose what human characteristics you want your brand to have in order to make it more relatable and engaging to your customers and potential customers.

5. What emotions do you want to spark?

A brand, by definition is a collection of thoughts and feelings about your experiences with it. When you create the right emotional affiliation with your brand, you increase awareness, sales and retention. 

For this reason, it is important to work out what emotions you want your customers and potential customers to associate with your brand. Is it safety and security? Love and passion? Awe and wonder? Confidence and trust? Hope, excitement or happiness?

Keep in mind that this is different to how you will appeal to your customers through your marketing, as you will normally use more negative emotions like frustration, fear or guilt in order to motivate them to act.

6. What do your customers want from you?

Once you have answered all of these questions from your perspective, answer them from your customers’ perspective. What do they need and want? What are they looking for from you and from your industry? What do they prioritise as most important? 

While you may own your business, your customers are the ones who keep you in business, so always make sure your brand is aligned with what they want.

How did you go about positioning your brand in the market place? Are you happy with where you are or is it time to make some adjustments?

Amanda


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