How do I make my small business standout against much larger competitors?
I know there is a serious market for my business, but I don't know how to attract bigger companies to use my services for their employees? I do not have the financial means to compete with the big relocators, but do a much better job.
1) Network, Network, Network. Find out where the decision-makers hang out. No networking group exists? Host a networking event that offers information those decision-makers would be interested in. Don't make it all about selling your service. Teach them something of value. Bring in a guest speaker.
2) Find businesses that also cater to your ideal clients. Become referral sources for each other. Make sure you give them talking points and that they understand what makes you better.
3) Testimonials are essential when competing with larger companies - especially if your differentiation is based on quality. If it takes offering one free relocation to the first 3 companies that take you up on the offer on condition that they offer their feedback and a testimonial if they like your service, then it's worth it. Make sure your testimonials are on your website.
4) Stay in front of them. Top Of Mind Awareness is essential. People get busy and forget. Hand-written notes are read. Be on Linked-In and connect with your ideal clients. Don't stalk them. Offer them info to show you are the expert. 5) For your business, create a convenient-sized PHYSICAL checklist for moving that can be sent to employees. Make sure your info is all over it and that there is some offer that you give when you get the list in front of them. You can also offer this as an electronic file when they sign up for your newsletter.
6) Offer multiple ways to take payment. Business that allow other Businesses to use credit cards have higher sales, don't have to worry about collecting payment.
You need to change your website. Wix is bad for SEO so get yourself a domain and hosting. For the potential returns, it's well worth the money (under $100 per year). You also need a complete redesign, your links blend into the background and I didn't notice the at first. Your website should be your shop window, inviting, comforting and a showcase of your talents.
Once your website is sorted out, you'll be looking a lot more serious about your business. If I looked at that now I'd be thinking "Ok this person can't afford a website, are they actually making any money? If not, why not?" Whether or not that's true, that's the image it portrays.
Be like Apple and "Think Different"! You don't need or want to compete with the larger relocation services; instead, focus on the advantages of working with a boutique service. You delineate what sets you apart right in your answer, below:
• Customized service (not a template that big relocation agencies might use) for their employees
• Extraordinary level of client care
• Hands-on personal attention every step of the way
• Quality that transforms relocation from a frustration to an asset!
Here's an example of what I mean by not focusing on "competing": a co-op market opened a few short blocks from Whole Foods in my town. They have a hot and cold food bar as well as a deli with prepared foods, along with the regular items you'd expect to find in a health food store. BUT: everything they serve on the hot/cold bars is organic (not so at WF), they change up the hot bar menu daily (not so at WF), and one of the chefs is Culinary Institute-trained (I don't know if this might be true of WF; somehow I doubt it). When the hot bar started offering more mainstream (i.e., less healthy) dishes, I asked if they could please focus on healthy food. The chef said, "Well, we have to compete with Whole Foods." I responded, "No, you don't! You're appealing to a completely different demographic."
So define your USP (unique selling proposition) clearly, focus on your key demographic, and deliver the amazing service you're known for. In addition to your regular business outreach, promote your company in all the media your target market (the employees who might be relocating) frequents (blogs? social media? print media? etc) and focus on how your business makes relocation an adventure to enhance their lives, rather than a chore.
Here's to your success!
There is already some great advise here that you could follow. Make a plan of actionable items out of all the comments here and see what you can implement. Some of it might take you some time and others might be easily done.
One thing I would definitely consider if I were you is to upgrade your wix package (not the smallest one, use the Combo package. Buy a domain (you can buy it with wix, even a .co.uk address) and upgrade. I don't agree with Dave, wix is a cost effective and good way to start a business. SEO is limited, yes but it will help you a little bit. All you need to do is follow the instructions and find the right keywords for your business. Is there better services or website offers out there? I'm sure there is and once you have the money you could easily move the provider or even have a bigger and better page build. But to start off with I personally believe it's a great way to get attention.
Use every social media possible from facebook to pinterest, twitter etc. and build an audience. The links on your website still point to wix so make sure you either take them off completely or replace them with your own.
Price is not everything and in fact only a minor percentage go for the cheapest price. Differentiate yourself and make sure you stand out.
Create a mission statement and core values for your company. This will help you define who you are and can even help finding the right target market.
Depending on your target market you could use low-cost advertisement and Facebook might be worth a shot on this. It's a small investment but can make a difference finding people who are looking for your services.
I nearly say it in every response I'm doing, go to networking events or join a local business networking group (such as BNI). They have the ability to help you grow. Think in terms of what you can bring to the table for them. It takes time to develop but it's definitely worth a shot. Join forces with other businesses that might have a synergy with yours. Such as kitchen builders, recruitment agencies, multinationals, auctioneers and housing estates. Especially Multinationals and recruiters might be a good route for you. They have constantly new people joining from all over Europe/ World because of the required language skills. If you could offer a good deal with them, they might refer you on to some people who are looking to relocate to the UK or other countries (depending on what countries you're able to cover).
And one final thing, don't think small. Think big, think different. You bring value and personality to the table and that's why customers should go with you. Will you get everybody? No, but it's all about the connections you make on a daily basis either with other business owners, directors and managers to help you out (and think in terms of if you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours...) or with customers, locals who need to move houses etc. Do hang-outs, introduce yourself in your area. Tell people what you do (don't even try to sell, if you go for that option, just introduce yourself, say who you are, leave a card and just ask them to keep you in mind. You could easily do this with local auctioneers/ real estate agencies...), be open minded and just spread the word. If you want to make it more attractive for local businesses to support you, offer an incentive, like a referral scheme. Give some commission etc.
Maybe this will help a bit more. But you already have such great advise here. Follow only a handful of them and you'll do fine :-) Good luck with your venture.
Just my 5 cent...
Further to the other feedback and comments, I would suggest yo do NOT mention fees before making it explicit what you do. I would start off by showing all the benefits your clients get from the services you offer. Try to quantify the benefits where possible in terms of time saved, expense and effort avoided. I suggest you do all this and then ask them to contact you for a personal analysis of their situation and how you can help them.
McLaughlin has some detailed pointers you can use.
Only discuss fees after you have established the value of what you offer as seen from the clients point of view. Else you scare them away.
I suggest a few things.
Use your network and LinkedIN (assuming you're on LinkedIN) to get access to the HR people at your target companies. Rather than just asking for random help, you should target 50 to 100 companies that you think would be good prospects for your services. Then use the LinkedIN Search tool (at the top of the page) to see who you know who knows folks at those companies, and then ask for a specific introduction.
Change your website. It doesn't look professional and it's hard to read. If you can't do it yourself you can usually find someone to do it for a few hundred $$ on Wordpress which you can then easily manage yourself. Include a blog on that site and then link it to Twitter and LinkedIN to help drive traffic.
Attend Local Job Fairs. Not to find a job but to network with HR professionals who will need your services.
Talk to Realtors. They will have a handle on who is moving and why and might be a good source of leads. in addition you can feed them leads which is a great way to engender loyalty.
Feel free to reach out directly if I can be of more help.
You know Marlies, I also had difficulty with your site. Wix wouldn't even let me in! They kept promoting use of their product. Why don't you check out some other options. I've got a Google Site that was so easy to develop.
You have an amazing concept and seem to do a great job that no one else are able to offer. Maybe revisit your web host and design. Definitely have samples of your work or testimonials from happy customers.
Don't forget to add social media sites, so that you can network with those who need an appreciate your service. There are many free tools here on the Internet to help you look more professional.
Get that list of potential companies that need your service and contact them directly. It's much like sales, in that you have to talk to many people before you get that YES!
The satisfied customers will drive more business to your door.
Your question is not an uncommon one amongst those of us who have small businesses and are trying to stand out against larger competitors. I believe that your strategy for standing out can be done in a couple of ways:
1. Distinguish how what you offer is better then your competitors. If you offer better customer service let them know that. If you can be more timely then let them know that. If you offer a better price let them know that as well. You should state to your potential client these differences in your pitch or proposal
2. References: any references that you may have of former clients or current clients showing the results that they are looking for.
3. Exceed their expectations. Know what they need before they ask you. Have the answer to their questions before they ask it.
If you can start with these three strategies I believe that you will be able to get the clients that you are going after. Good Luck!!! Go Get It!!!
55 answers to date, that's a great response.
I have read through a lot of them some are to long for me to read. so I will keep mine brief.
1) Change your web design.
2) Use positive images. Much more professional. (not a run down shack, I trust that is not your house.)
3) Like Dave Worrall said. Highlight your links.
4) Say more with less.
5) use the web for what you want the people to do.
6) have a call to action. on the landing page.
7) Do not give out all the information. Have them contact you for it. (no fees please)
8) Don't talk about your self. Tell then what they can expect from your service.
9) Answer the prospects # 1 question. "What's in it for me"
10. You have a great statement in your profile. " Being able to make your visions become reality and really see your ideas work is a great experience. Making a difference in really helping people is to me, what is my job about. And I aim to be the best at that!" Why have you not used it. or highlighted it on the landing page. I mean what else do you have to say.
I hope this helps.
Differentiation can be a difficult process. The best way to start is to take a step back and ask yourself, "Would I actually by this product as opposed buying Brand X?"
In other words, what is it about your company that makes it unique?
You say that you do a much better job than "the big relocators". How? Why? Are these differentiators expressed in your marketing materials - your logo, your website, your business cards, etc?
Also, consider joining your local chambers of commerce. Through the chambers you will meet hundreds of potential customers.
The best way to compete with the big boys/girls is by being extremely disruptive. If everybody is doing things the same way then do the exact opposite. Apply this rule to everything that pertains to marketing. Steve Jobs is a great example. When he launched Apple at the first trade show and the Apple booth lit up like NO other! I like to called it a GameChanger!!
1.) How do you know there is a 'serious market' for your business? Have you conducted research to determine that? A lot of people assume there is a large market for a product or service, but when they really dig in they are amazed it's not bigger than it actually is.
2.) Have you analyzed your competitors' strengths and weaknesses and service offerings to see what they do offer and compared that to what you can offer? You really need to do this to find your point of differentiation (POD).
3.) Have you talked to your past clients, current clients and prospective clients to identify what they are really looking for in a 'relocator' and how they perceive you and the service(s) you offer. Once again this will help you identify your niche, your POD and how to communicate that POD.
First step, especially for small business, is to identify who your "Low Hanging Fruit" are. You don't have the budget or the time to be everything to everyone.
Take time to focus on who is most likely to not just need but also want your services, and want them right now.
Target them first - go where they go (networking) and show where they show (advertising) and speak the way the speak (tone, language, style etc).
Attract them first, then turn them into raving fans who will spread word of mouth for you.
1) You need to look at this situation at another angle. For example, what makes your company unique and different? What sets apart from all the other businesses in that industry?
2) What are you going to do with your findings?
3)You need to look at where your website is as far as exposure and redesign the site to bring out the best. One small change can work wonders.
4) ask clients who have used your company if they would like answer a few questions concerning the company along with getting some of those clients to star in a few commercials (online, billboards, newspapers, and/or local television.
5) Examine your self image so you can reassure yourself that you can succeed in this industry.
6) Big companies are out there, but you have to make a mark in the industry so don't feel inintimidated. They're trying to make a profit just like you.
7) Make sure you have plenty of business cards. The reason is a conference may come up. You can pass out your business cards there. Meetings may come up with various companies - have cards in hand. Ask your local beauty salons, stores, churches, pizza places, or restaurants if you could lessons business cards there.
8) Always have a business card ready because you never know who you run into may need help with relocating.
Customer service is usually what makes the little guy stand out against the big guy. Give your customers fantastic customer service and then ask them for quick 30 second or 1 minute video testimonials. A good thing to have them talk about is why they chose you over the big players. Load those up to a youtube channel. This will help you get to the top of search engines.
Having a Google Plus page also brings you up in the rankings.
You can also consider barter if your finances are limited. Direct or through a barter management firm. A lot of smaller companies don't have the budget for the kind of marketing big companies do. However, if you barter your services you're using guaranteed incremental business to pay for it. You earn a new customer, keep your cash in your pocket and gain the exposure that you want and need.
I think that this is an issue a lot of people struggle with, so thanks for asking.
I'd say that you don't need to compete with the larger corporations at a huge level, but rather start with your local area and community and start your business up the old fashioned way, with referrals from friends and family.
Eventually, you can undercut some of the bigger companies by offering things that they can't (or won't): lower prices, better customer service, better availability, etc. If your business is as custom and high-service as you say, that's a huge selling point, and stick to it.
One of the first steps you should consider is how your presence in the marketplace is positioned. You can utilize some very affordable options to put together a professional website. Also, don't use a free email service. You should look at a hosted email exchange with your business domain. Also, your phone system plays a big part in how you're perceived. Crexendo has a great, cost effective platform for helping small companies appear bigger without the high-cost price tag. Cell phone only shows you're small...
You are right to not even try and compete dollar for dollar from a marketing standpoint, but you can still validate yourself in other ways. Post some letters of recommendation on your website, or use those same letters in your face-to-face presentations to them. Make sure all of your materials, and all of the people who represent you look, act, and speak professionally. If you want to compete against the big boys, you need to be even more polished in your presentations and more confidant in your abilities.
I think the most important factor is coming across with a can do attitude. Emphasize your qualities and how being small allows you to be more nimble and responsive. Point out that you, the owner are available at any time to deal with and address any questions they might have. That you, the owner will personally be responsible for their satisfaction.
Like the story of the little train "I think I can, I think I can"; you need to take it to the next level, " I know I can, I know I will"!
You need to sand out via an Unique Selling Proposition. A point of difference that makes your company unique, not another one of the lot.
This is also called the strategy of the Blue Ocean, where you differenciate yourself from the bunch, through something that you own, and you costantly can do better than your competitors. That benefit that is the core of, the reason why you exist.
Two extraordinary and easy to read books on this matter are: "The Strategy of the Blue Ocean" by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne and "Marketing Warfare" by Al Ries.
Hope you enjoy them.
Highlight what makes you different, and how 'you add value'; price, service, technology, etc.. Find a 'partner' that you can get a great reference from, and build from there.