It’s easy for the little guys to get overlooked in this ever-growing techno-jungle that is the Internet. It can be difficult to compete if you are not Coca-Cola, Microsoft, or Amazon. Small businesses face the uphill battle of standing out in a sea of giants. Therefore, how do you differentiate yourself and survive? The trick is to be SMALL in a BIG way by encapsulating YOUR essence in your web site!
To demonstrate my point, allow me to paint a picture. Consider that you’re craving a strawberry milkshake and decide to visit Joe’s Ice Cream Parlor. When you enter, Joe smiles and inquires, “How are you Sam? Do you wish for the standard strawberry shake?” You plop down on the barstool and exclaim, “That would be fantastic!” Joe inquires about the well-being of his wife and children. You inquire about Joe’s business.
Joe pours the milkshake into a tall, curved soda glass, inserts a straw, and garnishes the glass with not one, but two cherries.
What is appealing about this image? It’s the epitome of compactness! It’s a throwback to the good ol’ days of Mom and Pop stores. You know that when you visit Joe’s, you’re getting more than just a delicious milkshake; you’re getting the experience. And the value that Joe adds to that milkshake contributes significantly to the development and maintenance of a relationship with that client.
Let’s discuss how you capture the “you” and harness its potential in your business.
It all begins with a visit to Joe’s Ice Cream Shop. The retro vibe, the jukebox music, and the real whip cream he uses to top his milkshakes. Is your website a force to be reckoned with? If you do not immediately capture the visitor’s attention, you will lose their business. You can add interest and set the tone for your visitors by utilising friendly copy, attractive graphics, and colour.
MOTTO: The home page is the portal to your website. At the very top of the page, you should state who you are, what you do, and why customers should care!
What distinguishes you from the competition?
Are you sociable? Are you reasonably priced? Are you available 24 hours a day?
Have you developed a specialty? Are you a one-stop shop for all your needs?
Keep in mind those memorable phrases: Bounty, the quicker picker upper… Burger King – We customise your order… We make a greater effort, Hertz…. These are excellent examples of slogans that immediately communicate to customers WHO you are and WHY you are better than the competition.
WHICH SPECIALS ARE AVAILABLE?
Joe prominently displays his “daily soda” on his menu.
Similarly, you must inform visitors about the exciting features available on your site. Create a home page that reads like a daily specials menu, informing customers about the free reports, resources, products, and other features available on your site.
If you offer a risk-free trial or a full refund, make it VISIBLE on your home page!
WORDS: Just as Joe’s conversation created a warm, friendly shopping experience for you, you can infuse your web copy with personality to create a welcoming visitor experience. Avoid web copy that portrays you as a high-pressure car salesman or a fancy high-profile vice president of sales. Rather than that, write honestly and with a personal tone.
Your website copy (writing) should NOT be a laundry list of bullet points pulled from your resume or a list of your services. Rather than that, explain to people in their own words what you have to offer, how it will benefit them, how much money they will save, how much easier things will be for them, and how convenient you are. Consider yourself a customer and ask yourself, “Why should I buy from this company rather than the one down the block?” THESE ARE THE QUESTIONS THAT WILL FORCE YOU TO WRITE FOR YOUR WEB SITE.
USE OTHER PEOPLE’S WORDS: When your friend George stated, “You HAVE to try Joe’s Milk Shakes. You will be amazed at how good they are “You were PURCHASED! Nothing beats a heartfelt testimonial for establishing trust and credibility. If you lack a well-known brand name and the associated reputation, you must convince the customer that you or your product delivers on your promises.
This is accomplished through testimonials. And genuine words from a satisfied customer will bring you more customers than any expensive advertisement will.
IMAGES ARE WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS:
Joe had a way of making you feel immediately at ease in his shop. Similarly, by including a photograph of yourself on your website, your customers will develop a sense of familiarity with you. The more familiar your customers feel with you, the more likely they are to do business with you.
If you don’t have a good image of yourself, here are some suggestions. Make an appointment at a Sears, Glamour Shots, or JC Penny studio to have one taken. If your formal photographs are “horrible,” consider taking one of you “in action” doing what you do. Consider including a photograph of yourself working with students if you teach. Even better, you can “cut” yourself out of a good casual shot, remove the background, add a shadow, and create an AMAZING head shot! My photograph is available on the about us page at http://www.kcustom.com/aboutus.htm. I take HORRIBLE formal photographs because I despise being photographed. This one is of me on my honeymoon in KeyWest. It’s no wonder I appear so cheerful!
If you sell widgets, include a photograph of the item on your website. When people shop in a store, they enjoy the sensation of touching, feeling, and holding the product. Recreate this experience through the use of images and visual imagery in conjunction with words. Instead of telling customers that the seat is “solid leather construction,” tell them that the seat is “made with leather that is so soft that you will sink right into it!”
COMMUNICATE WITH CUSTOMERS IN A FRIENDLY, RESPONSIVE MANNER
Have you ever stood in line at a store counter and WAITED? You could see the store clerk up there conversing with her coworkers. You clear your throat and make eye contact with her, and FINALLY, she approaches you and asks, “Can I assist you?” This is how your customers feel when they send an email to your business and you do not immediately respond.
Email responses should be prompt. If you don’t have time to respond immediately to someone’s question, send them a note informing them that you received their inquiry and when they CAN expect an answer.
Rewind in your mind to the “waiting at the counter” scenario… doesn’t it make you feel better when the clerk says, “I’ll be right with you?” It communicates to the customer, “You are significant to me, I noticed you, and I will assist you as soon as possible.”
OFFER IMPECCABLE SERVICE: Joe’s success at the Ice Cream Shop was not solely due to his incredible milk shakes; it was also due to the value he added by adding the extra cherry on top. Make 8 promises and keep 9. What actions do you take to increase the value of your business? By including those small extras, you can freely give of yourself.
EVERYTHING IS IN THE PACKAGING:
Milkshakes, for some reason, never taste as good when served in a paper cup with a plastic lid. And while the milkshake at Joe’s may cost an additional $1, you don’t mind because you know you’re getting your money’s worth. Consider how you can package your services in an appealing and convenient manner for your clients. Avoid nickel and diming your customers. Occasionally, $150 per hour fees can be quite frightening to clients. Consider creating a package with a predetermined number of offerings at a predetermined price. You could offer a standard package, a deluxe package, and a GOLD package. When clients understand exactly what to expect, the “fear” factor is removed from the purchase.
ANSWERING THE PHONE: I don’t know about you, but nothing impresses me more than calling a customer service number and receiving HUMAN live assistance! I’m looking for someone who will listen to and understand my concerns. I’m not interested in selecting options 1, 2, or 3 and pressing a button on the phone.
When Joe answers the phone, he greets the caller with “Welcome to Joe’s Ice Cream Shop, my name is Joe!” What an excellent first impression! When you respond, smile; people will notice the difference in your tone of voice.
REMAIN SMALL – REMAIN YOU – You will not believe the difference!
I can tell you from personal experience that being “myself” has been instrumental in the growth of my business. And every day, as I build websites for small business owners, I assist them in infusing their sites with a bit of themselves. The value of personal branding cannot be overstated. Consider your own business. Consider looking through a different pair of eyes.
How do you present yourself to the world? Does my website “feel” like a welcoming, comfortable place to conduct business, or does it resemble a screaming, over-hyped advertisement or business brochure? Remember, the key to competing with the BIG GUYS is to infuse your service, communication, and website with a human touch! Act modestly for MASSIVE profits!