Your marketing communications can be as brilliant as you like, but if there are lots of people offering the same thing, you may struggle to generate leads and/or sales.
If it's hard for prospects to differentiate between you and your competitors, people will always umm and ahh about you. Perhaps they'll wonder why they didn't pick someone else "after all, the others offered the same thing and probably don't wear such ridiculous hats".
That's not a good reaction. That's not going to improve customer retention.
A good reaction is "OMG! How have you not been in my life before now!?! Let me give you money, I know you'll be busy but please consider working with me! I feel so uplifted/enabled/empowered/free." That's the sort of reaction you want and you'll only get it by being meaningfully different. That's your brand strategy.
Obviously, actually being different would be good. Selling a different thing. But for a service: accountant, web developer, solicitor, graphic designer, printer, clothes repairer, plumber .. we are locked into providing some basics.
Being local can be a strong differentiator.
There's a little more to being geographically local though. You might be local and catholic, or local and protestant. There's a lot to be said for the friend-of-a-friend network. Immigrant communities naturally pass work among themselves as a means to raise the whole community. The Totally Locally campaign the same: if you and I are part of a community and I pay you £1,000 to do my accounts and you pay someone else in the community £1,000 to decorate your house and they buy a car from someone else in the community for £1,000 and that person comes back to me for a website, that's better than me going to A.National.Accountancy.Chain where the money just disappears to the Cayman Islands and no-one I know and love gets their house decorated. So 'local' can mean 'in our community' and that could mean all sorts of things including something like 'in our global community of model aircraft hobbyists'.
You can be different by brand values. Yep. That again. Get it sorted here: http://www.johnallsopp.com . If you're a plumber into excellence and performance and you occasionally let out that you are into cycling, then others who stand for the same thing will welcome you into their house because they trust you, because you share the same values.
You can differentiate by appealing to different personality types. The designer: someone who works on things as an intellectual problem and comes up with ornate solutions. The organiser: never be late for this person. The connector who is all about the people, and the driver: goal oriented, get it done.
I know a builder who's actually a ceramic artist but he builds fantastic, huge, creative treehouses. Absolutely wrong for the 'organiser' market. Would repulse a 'driver'. He's a connector, that's true. But for a 'designer', he's heaven sent. So .. which market are you right for? Your marketing copy and brand design needs to emphasise who you are aiming at or if truly you want them all, approach it like a teacher has to and include something for everyone.
As a lad, I read a book about how to win fishing matches. The guy had a system: create a feeding frenzy of young, unwary fish and then just pick them out with a barbless hook for a quick, efficient, non-damaging passage into the keep net. No float, no nothing. An arm-aching four hours of picking out smaller fish, but in the end, your weight of fish will beat anyone aiming for bigger specimens. Basically, the RyanAir approach. And there's no disputing that makes money. So if that's your thing, go for it. Cheap and 'no better than you deserve' is a differentiator.
But the other differentiator is to head upmarket. It's no more effort to sell to people with money. Sell fewer things that are worth more. Remember that 20% of your customers will spend 4x more if you offer something worth that. So if you sell 100 things at £5 each (£500), 20% of those would have spent £20 for an improved product, a pro product, a full package. 20 x £20 = £400 and you've nearly doubled your income. Differentiate by heading up.
Don't think of differentiating as closing doors. Choosing A does mean ignoring B, but it makes you more findable to A, gets you more meaningful recommendations, and improves your sales conversion and customer retention no end. Sales and marketing becomes easy, your cost of sales go down, time spent on marketing goes down. Everyone's happy, even your accountant.
So. Y'know. Get it sorted. >
High quality inbound leads are far more likely to come to you if you take more risk and focus on one thing. Spreading yourself to mitigate risk is the problem.
Focus 60-80% of your effort and resources on just one lead generation method, get really good at it, stand out, and do less. >
Come back another time for the ability to vote and make your own marketing planner.
There are lots of freelancers, sole traders and small to medium sized businesses who don't know how to market themselves, what next step to take. Perhaps you are one of them. Even if not you might be too busy, not have the required skill, or be clean out of budget to make it happen.
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Hi, I'm John Allsopp and I founded A Million Tweaks in 2009 to do just what it says, continually improve marketing systems.
Nowadays I'm still just as hungry to learn the latest and most effective marketing techniques in what is an incredibly fast moving world. Basically I buy all the training courses so you don't have to.
Actually that's not an insignificant thing. Back in the day I got a first in my degree (Internet Computing) because I did the work, obviously, but also because I studied well and that means taking information from different sources and mixing things up to find the truth in the middle, and I still do that today. I remember waking up one Sunday, switching on the wooden, push button TV we had next to the bed and Tony Buzan came on with his mind maps .. it's still how I study now.
There used to be a very popular service that read all the business books and summarised them for busy executives. I'm not sure if that's still going, but this service is like a modern equivalent, except we'll actually do the work for you too if you like.
In marketing, however, there is an absolute truth: the result. It's often more effort to talk about marketing improvements than to enact them. Don't talk: test. If it works it works. So A Million Tweaks is about making small, low risk changes every day and iterating our way to your fame and fortune.
Anyway, I was supposed to be introducing myself in this box. I live in Scarborough with my partner (who has ME/CFS). I'm 6'6" tall which I think makes me an observer. I drum in a ska band (come see us it's a great night) :-)
If you want to get in touch there's 07762 941921 but best for me is email firstname.lastname@example.org or hook up with me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Even better, fill out the form on this page and let's get talking about how we can apply some of these marketing improvements to your business, it's no good left stuck in my head now, is it?