We all know there are going to be times where whatever you’re selling – regardless of whether it’s a product or a service – someone is going to be flogging it for less than you are.
So how do you counteract that? Do you drop your prices? Run an offer? Give up and go home? It’s unlikely any of these things are going to make you any money or cover your overheads. Carrying on with your business pricing as it is, is sometimes the only way to cover your outgoings and make sure you still turn a profit.
So what can you do to sell your products or services when you’re not the cheapest option? Here are some tips on how best to make sure your customers choose you over other more affordable options.
Find your unique selling point (USP)
Every big brand has a unique selling point for its most valued products. For brands like Kwik-Fit it’s in the name (they claim to provide the fastest tyre fitting service), and for others like Christian Louboutin it’s about creating something different (they pioneered the red soled shoe which has become synonymous with high end fashion and style). These unique selling points are possibly more about perception than reality, but pushing an angle like these is exactly what could set you apart from the crowd.
If you can objectively step back from your business and answer the question: “why should the consumer go to my business instead of my competitor?” then you’re most of the way to working out your USP.
For example, maybe your company has decades of experience in one specialist area, or a better quality made product? Or perhaps your USP is the way in which consumers can contact your support team any time of the day or night?
Nail down your USP and make it the top of your marketing message.
Price is often the deciding factor in a consumer’s choice to buy, but if asked many will not agree this is the case. Customers don’t want to seem ‘cheap’ nor do they always want to buy ‘cheap’ items. They generally want value for money or a less expensive item.
Present your products or services in such a way that buying from you is the obvious choice, whether that be because it’s the best of its type in the price point or because your customers will get more for their cash.
You can do this in a number of ways: by offering services ‘free of charge’ that otherwise would cost the customer, but in reality costs you very little. For example, free quotes, measurements and consultations, personal shopper experiences, a biscuit with a hot drink or bread and flavoured waters. The list is endless and can be adapted to suit your business and its client demographic.
Clients want an authority when they look for a product. Knowing that they are speaking to the best possible person to give them advice on any given topic is invaluable.
You can do this by employing great sales people who not only know the business inside out, but who are friendly and personable too. They will need to be able to speak to many different types of people and possibly explain complex concepts in simple ways, whilst not patronising a client. Another way is to publish a weekly or monthly newsletter, the contents of which could be drawn from an ongoing blog or a current news story. The newsletter would discuss industry news, hot topics, answer questions and give advice. That way your readers will associate your business with being a voice of authority.
Simply put, people will buy from you if they know you: a huge percentage of the population are using social networks now, and if you’re not in the conversation then how will people know who you are?
A quick look at your customer base, plus the customer base you’re targeting, will indicate which social channels you should invest time in. LinkedIn is great for business to business conversations; Facebook will appeal to a wide demographic and you can make sure you find the right customers by targeted paid advertising; Twitter is used by a similarly wide range of people but is well utilised by company’s customer service departments to swiftly deal with complaints. Having a small amount of cash available to trial social paid advertising could make a huge difference to your business income, if necessary a small business loan provider might be able to help.
Look honestly at your online presence. Is your website up to date (do you even have one?)?Is it simple to use and mobile device friendly?
Pictures make a huge difference to the perception of your business as a whole, so make sure all the images on your website are well-lit and stylish. Free stock images can be acquired from many sites online and will improve the appearance of your website immeasurably. Paying a little more for professional pictures to be taken of your team, premises or products will help customers buy into your brand.
Look into online review sites and see what people are saying about you. Sites like Trip Advisor, yelp and Twitter can sound the death knell for businesses which don’t take the time to address complaints and issues. This is your chance to fix issues that are raised or make adjustments within your business to make sure you’re excelling.
Make life easy for your customers
Making life as easy as possible for your customers is one of the best ways to gain a sale and keep a loyal customer.
As previously mentioned, a well laid out website that’s mobile friendly is a good start. Then start thinking about ‘pain points’ your clients might have when it comes to using your business. Consider delivery times and charges, make it free where you can and less expensive where you can’t. Offer delivery times or windows to make things easier for your customers. If you run a shop then offer all payment types possible to you- cash, card and, if possible, mobile payments- and, invest in new technology like contactless payments too.
Maybe your business deals in heavy items, or services a demographic that might not be as able bodied as others, in which case be sure to have employees capable of helping them reach and carry things, even out to a car if they need. Have enough staff on duty so that you can devote a reasonable amount of time to each question or sale.
Make your customers feel like they had the best possible experience when using your company and they will not only spend more, they will stay loyal and even tell their friends, which creates great word of mouth publicity for you.
Following all of these steps might not be possible for your business right away, but even implementing a few of them should have really positive effects on your bottom line.
Rafferty Gifford, online marketing professional, Liberis UK