By Evan Carmichael on March 15th, 2011
Ask Evan is a segment on this blog where I answer reader questions. This week we have have three questions from Laurie, Eylat, and Don:
Good morning Evan,
Our biggest business challenge is marketing, promoting, and obtaining clients when it comes to website sales. The funds have been exhausted when it comes to our advertising budget, and not generating enough revenue to replenish it is the bottom line upfront!
Our business is web design. We’re a small, veteran-owned and operated business that been in existance for approximately seven years; however, I’ve only been with it for two years. We’ve done the marketing, promoting, advertising to put our name out there. Our location isn’t bad, for we’re located downtown. I think what it is is that it’s a challenge to break into the market when businesses are used to an already established business such as ours. Additionally, not being a native of the area tends to work against one sometimes. But, we’re doing what we can to maintain a presence out there anyway :-).
If you can assist in that, great! If not, then ok, too. Thank you.
Web design is a tough business – you have tons of competitors both from other professional companies and from people who think they can do it themselves or get their kids to do it. You’ve also got overseas designers at places like 99designs who will put out good quality results for 25% to 10% of the cost. Here are some suggestions to help you stand out:
1) Establish your value.
You should come up with what differentiates your company and then whenever you tell people about your business include it in there so they can think of ways to help you.
What makes you different? Do you target a niche like manufacturing? Do you offer a money back satisfaction guarantee? Are you known as being the web designers who go above and beyond to satisfy their clients? When you wrote to tell me what you did you said “Our business is web design.” I have no way to differentiate you from every other web designer out there. You should come up with what differentiates your company and then whenever you tell people about your business include it in there so they can think of ways to help you. If you tell me you focus on making websites for accountants then the next time I hear an accountant talking about them needing a website I’m going to think of you. Being just a web designer is too general – I know too many web designers, as do most people , so it’s easy for you to get lost in the shuffle.
2) Form partnerships.
Think of who else your target customers are buying from and form partnerships with them so you can all benefit.
Once you know who you’re targeting and what your message is, find people who can connect you and make sure they understand your value proposition. For example, if you’re targeting retail stores then partner up with everyone else who targets retailers like commercial real estate agents, lawyers who work with a lot of retailers, retail management consultants, etc. You’re all selling to the same market and can help each other out. You might also want to see about partnering up with a local web hosting company – once someone buys a new website they can upsell your services. Think of who else your target customers are buying from and form partnerships with them so you can all benefit.
3) Extend your value.
Extend the value you bring your clients… go from being a commodity supplier that they deal with every now and then to a critical business partner who they can’t live without!
Many business owners will design their website and then not touch it for a year or more. If I were you I would look for ways to extend my value to existing clients so they keep thinking about me (and referring me to their friends) more than just once a year. For example, can you help out with social media? Every business is trying to figure out how to use Twitter and Facebook to help them grow – can you take a part of that? If you can extend the value you bring your clients you’ll go from being a commodity supplier that they deal with every now and then to a critical business partner who they can’t live without!
Next up is Eylat:
I do two things. First, I am a chocolatier and want to sell my chocolate and become well known such as Hershey. Two, I sell alarm systems, chocolate is easy to sell compared to alarm systems. My number one objection, is we already have an alarm system, my number two objection, I do not want one. I want to know, how to I get around that. How to I in the first 10 seconds of my call, get the customer so interested in me, they want to listen to what I have to say. That is my stumping ground. For the alarm company, I cold call. For the chocolate company – it is warm calling (I do trade shows.)
Here are my thoughts for you:
4) Focus on one thing and be the best at it.
I learned it is better to do one product well than two products in a mediocre way.
My Twitter post today sums up my thoughts for you on this one: “I learned it is better to do one product well than two products in a mediocre way.” - #ReedHastings, http://tiny.ly/mK6I. If you’re a chocolatier then do chocolates! Focus on making the best product you can and promoting it. You’re not going to be the next Milton Hershey by only committing yourself part-time to your business.
5) Model success.
Look at the top people who have done what you’re trying to do and copy their strategies.
I’ve always been a huge fan of modeling success – look at the top people who have done what you’re trying to do and copy their strategies. As a start I have a whole section on food and drink entrepreneurs you can model. here’s some of their advice:
“Give them quality. That’s the best kind of advertising in the world.” – Milton Hershey
“Good enough never is. Set your standards so high that even the flaws are considered excellent… You’ve got to strive to be the best in whatever you do.” – Debbi Fields
6) Be yourself.
Instead of memorizing a sales script, try to tap into what the real problem is and how you would solve it.
Even though I don’t think you should be in the alarm business if it’s not your passion, I’ll try to give some advice here because you asked for help. I haven’t done a whole of cold calling in my life as an entrepreneur but the best advice someone gave me was this: Be yourself. Instead of memorizing a sales script, try to tap into what the real problem is and how you would solve it. Do you have an alarm system? Why did you install it and why would you choose your company over someone else? (If you don’t have one or you can’t really think of why the company you work for is better then you really need to get out of the alarm business). People can spot someone reading a script immediately because they aren’t genuine.
Here are a few extra articles that might help you:
Finally it’s over to Don:
Love your website and the articles that you put up. I have my own entrepreneur motivational website at www.SecretEntourage.com. One of the things I’m most proud of is our success stories that profiles successful entrepreneurs.
Can you take a look at my website and give me your thoughts? Would love to hear your feedback.
Don, I love anything that inspires entrepreneurs to be reach for their dreams. I’m getting an error though when I click through to any of your posts or categories:
If you want to fix it up and let me know I can comment in next month’s Ask Evan.
Good luck Laurie, Eylat, and Don!
Readers, do you have any other ideas for our entrepreneurs?
I’d love to hear your thoughts if you leave a comment below!
Photo Credit: chrisprayingmantis
Tags: blog, bottom line, budget, business challenge, existance, eylat, money back satisfaction, niche, presence, professional companies, quality results, reader questions, satisfaction guarantee, segment, seven years, web design, web designer, web designers