For years I was successful at building brands for my businesses, creating a whole corporate image with a logo, fonts, an advertising campaign, communication strategy through PR messages and so on, but I always struggle at the same point: How to position that company in the marketplace. How are we different from our competitors. Lower price, higher quality, better fulfillment systems. The reality is that there is rarely anything different and you end up just trying to push more product out the door.
The marketplace has changed, and with the use of new communications tools such as social media, I came to realized that those differences exist and are so obvious that we actually don’t see them:
The competition doesn’t have you. I’m not saying you’re better, but you have something to offer that only you can provide, something unique. When I started SocialMouths, I went through the same process of creating a company, building an image and a structure for it, just to realize that almost all the business I get is coming from people that got to know me or was referred to me for who I am, ignoring my logo completely. This made me think if people were following me in the past and not just my company…
I can’t really explain it but when you are truly honest with your clients, they can see it. I remember being afraid to say something that would drive my prospect right to the competition, but what if the best solution for that client is to keep the current provider or go somewhere else? Are you willing to let go of the short-term benefit and hope that you can establish a true long-term relationship? Don’t be afraid, let your values get in the middle and surprise people, I can assure is coming back to you sooner or later.
I find that most of the time people resist something they’re not familiar with, the unknown, it’s only natural. People are standing in front of you thinking “This is going to be expensive” or “This is going to require a lot form me”. This is known to you, and the first step you need to take is to clear those assumptions, provide clarity. I can remember many opportunities when I was on the other side feeling like this and ended up not doing anything or hiring a service in the dark, not sure I made the right decision. Putting your prospect at ease by painting a clear picture in front of them might just be the one and only reason you are hired.
The Price Of The Future: FREE
When was the last time you provided something for free? Tim Armstrong (Rancid) published his solo album, A Poet’s Life, in 2007. Before going on iTunes and hitting the stores, he gave away every song of the album on his website for a few months and then went on to become one of the bestsellers that year. Tribes, Seth Godin‘s latest book went out as a free download before becoming a national bestseller. All this is happening while the music industry struggles to find new ways to profit. You get the point, don’t be afraid.
Organic Results (No Sales)
When you put your values at the core of your business, that’s what you get, organic results. I was the guy pushing product out the door for many years, I was the one buying more time on TV and always trying to come up with strategies on how to increment everything. I didn’t want to deal with sales, always hated sales, so I made sure all those ads were bringing the business in. Today, the only strategy is being myself and exceed expectations, and that not only brings business but I’m getting the opportunity to work with amazing people on exciting projects at the perfect time. I forgot about marketing, sales and worrying about ROI, the only thing I always feared.
I read this somewhere last week and I have been breaking my head trying to remember where so I can post the exact same words and give credit to whoever said it, but it wen something like this:
“Create something by following your passion, put it in front of the right people and see what happens”
I don’t know but it sounds a lot like LEADERSHIP to me…
What do you think?
Photo Credit: Vilseskogen