Between the day-to-day tasks of running a business, it can be easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. But your business is about so much more than the bottom line. If you want to create a product or service that lasts, you must think about what you can be doing to set yourself apart.
You might be thinking, really? It’s not enough that I have a product or service people like and I treat my customers well? The truth is, it really isn’t.
New businesses live or die by world of mouth. Think about the new products or services you’ve mentioned to your friends and family or on social media lately. What was it about them that set them apart? I’m willing to bet it had something to do with how you felt cared for.
If you’re finding it difficult to care about being caring, you should probably get into another business. If you’re just doing what you’re doing to make a buck, you’re making a mistake. If you want your business to be successful, keep the following advice near and dear to your heart.
1. Be remarkable.
Seth Godin had it right when he said, “You’ve got to be a purple cow.” (Godin is one of my favorite business authors. If you haven’t read his book, Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? you should.) You can’t just blend in with the herd. You have to stand out and give people something to talk about -- something positive and extraordinary. Don’t settle for simply being different. Strive to be outstanding.
2. Be personal.
Having a personal touch really does matter. Get to know your customers, and let them know you. Go so far as to incorporate being personal into your brand strategy. We all know there are actual people working for the businesses we encounter and rely on in our daily lives! Why try to obscure that?
3. Be accessible.
People want to have one-on-one interactions with real human beings. Companies that don’t have two-way forms of customer communication are dinosaurs. Make it extremely easy for your customers to reach out to you by plastering your contact information everywhere.
Invite them to share their wants, needs, likes, dislikes, questions and concerns. Nothing turns me off to a business faster than not being able to get in touch with an actual human. Respond to inquiries promptly and directly whenever possible.
4. Be genuine.
Are you the real deal? I hope so. Let your customers know that! You can never be all things to all people. There’s no point in trying. Be clear about what you and your business are about and don’t waver from that.
5. Be transparent.
Nobody likes to feel surprised or duped. Say what you do, and do what you say. When something goes wrong, admit it. Consumers have access to so much information today that attempting to cover something up or sweep it under the rug is likely to backfire -- as social media has taught us time and time again. People make mistakes. So do businesses. People run them, after all.
6. Be relevant.
Some businesses have trouble adapting. The truth is, the needs of your customers are going to change -- and if you want to stay relevant, you need to be able to change with them. Staying close to your customers is the best way to be clued into what they’re really looking for. If you can anticipate their needs before they state them, then you’re really killing it.
In my experience, the best way to set yourself apart from your competitors is to be caring. It’s not a quality that can be faked. And even in today’s fast-paced, technology-driven world, it’s a quality that still truly resonates with people.