You know that industry you operate in?
The one with no competition, no substitutions and zero threat from IoT technologies or disrupters?
That’s what I thought.
Unless you’re working on reviving dinosaurs for popular entertainment or developing a time portal, you probably know a thing or two about competition.
Competition Is a Good Thing
"Show me an industry where there's no meaningful competition, and I will show you a stock that's probably worth owning," enthuses Jim Cramer, host of CNBC’s Mad Money. That’s because no competition in any industry is about as rare as an ice cube in the Sahara. It’s possible. Just not very likely.
John Warrillow, award-winning entrepreneur and author of best-selling book "Built to Sell", has a different take on competition. As an angel investor and entrepreneur, Warrillow claims that when companies have no competition, it probably means that there’s no market either. So don't waste your time searching for the Holy Grail. Competition is everywhere and it’s necessary, too.
Companies that are already succeeding in what you’re doing, or thinking of doing, is a good sign. You don’t have to reinvent any wheel here. But you do need to find a way to connect with your customers and show them why you’re unique. In a sea of other (insert business of your choice here) why should they pick your product or service over the rest?
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The Human Connection
Connecting with your customers is vital. Making them feel like you really care about their wants and needs and that they’re more than just a number to you. Let’s face it. There are enough companies out there already providing abysmal customer service. Sometimes we’re simply grateful if our call doesn’t get disconnected or the representative follows up when promised. If you can be the difference in the world through your customer care, then you can stand out from the crowd. Be the refreshing cool glass of lemonade on a steamy summer’s day.
Win your customers over with one-on-one interactions where you really listen to them and their pain points. Be sure to follow up afterward. Build meaningful relationships through listening. Listening to people shows that you really care for them and want to understand their needs.
And people tend to have more faith and trust in people who listen to what they have to say, which should result in them buying your product. If not, you need a plan to follow up. Sometimes people just need a little reminder and following up shows that you’re reliable and eager to help with any problems.
Create Great First Impressions
Be sure to create great first impressions with all potential customers. Remember that not all customers’ first interactions with your company will be the same, so it’s important to ensure harmony across all media. Let’s say you’re getting ready to go to an interview, out on a date, or to an important meeting. The chances are you’ll get all dressed up for the big occasion. But, are you doing the same thing with your clients? Are you making a good first impression at every interaction?
Yes, You Can!
Let’s take a look at the success of weight loss program Yes, You Can! When founder Alejandro Chabán decided to share his weight loss success with his fans, he was looking at one of the most competitive industries in North America. Yet another lose weight fast program in a saturated market, already bursting with protein shakes, fitness DVDs and fat burners.
How was he able to break a million dollars in sales in his first year alone and go on to grow his business by 1,000 percent? Chabán hasn’t reinvented any wheels. He has found his way of standing out by connecting with his customers on a personal level.
Yes, You Can! or “¡Sí Se Puede!” in Spanish, is described as being “the only diet plan with a Latin flavor.” By identifying who his customers are and how their needs differ from others, Chabán has been able to find his niche. Offering a weight loss program designed for a Latino audience who can cook with the ingredients they’re used to.
Participants can still eat fajitas, tequeños and other traditional dishes they love, enjoying Latin flavors with their family while they reach their ideal weight. Host of the Spanish version of the Morning Show, “Despierta América”, Chabán’s popularity among the U.S. Latino population has undeniably played a part in his success. But with plenty of other celebrity endorsed plans, fitness apps and diets, Chabán’s key differentiator is his customer connection.
Caring About Your Customers
Chabán’s appetite suppressants, colon cleansers, and collagen supplements may be a great stand-alone product. But the package alone, or endorsements from famous names including Dr. Oz, isn’t what’s making the difference.
Dubbed by Dr. Oz as the “voice of this generation’s weight loss and fitness”, Chabán regularly visits his customers face-to-face and holds talks as an ambassador in Oz’s Health Corps Foundation. As the fat kid bullied at school, Chabán’s honesty and vulnerability have made him easy to identify with.
Chabán himself battled with obesity in his childhood and adolescent years. “I understand what it’s like to be overweight,” he says, and he draws upon his own experiences to shape his empathetic approach. “I want my clients to know that they’re important.”
Not only does Chabán understand what it’s like to be overweight, but he also knows how it feels to stand out. He can identify with Latino immigrants, having himself uprooted and moved to the U.S. when he was 20. Chabán is able to make a good impression on his customers simply by using authenticity and understanding their problems.
The “Latin flavor” in Yes, You Can! incorporates other key aspects of Latin culture rarely found in other diet plans, such as a strong emphasis on family cooking. In the same vein, through Chabán’s direct selling program, members can become paid coaches and mentor others. Keeping continued customer contact and meeting individual needs through coaches who speak Spanish as well as English.
Keeping It Real
As a successful author, motivator, TV presenter and certified nutrition and wellness coach, you might think that Chabán would be disconnected from his clients. But you only have to take one look at the interaction on his social media platforms to appreciate how customer-centric his business model is. All comments and questions are answered, with Chabán personally congratulating his customers’ successes. He also hosts weekly VIP calls, where he randomly connects with clients and personally encourages them to keep up the hard work.
Hugging Your Customers
Let’s go one step further. According to Jack Mitchell, author of "Hug Your Customers" and CEO of the Mitchell Family Stores, no matter what business you’re in, one universal maxim holds true. If you want to succeed, you need to keep your customers happy by developing a “hugging culture.”
Wait, what? Give your customers a hug? That might be the first way to get yourself a slap in the face or a lawsuit. But Mitchell explains that a hugging culture is more about giving the customers what they want, which implies first finding out what they want.
Throughout his extensive experience in the retail industry, Mitchell’s employees would call customers by their first names. They are trained to ask personal questions, such as “is this outfit for business or pleasure?” or “what’s the occasion?” Getting to know their customers in a deeper way makes it easier for employees to help them out. You may not want to physically hug your customers. But simple gestures like taking the customer over to the clothes, instead of pointing them in the general direction can make a difference.
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Connect with your clients by remembering above all that people are human. You never know what kind of a day someone has had or what emotional battles they face. Sometimes simply being kind at the right moment can change the course of somebody’s life, or your own.
Even if your company has no physical presence and doesn’t meet and greet clients, you can still find out what they’re looking for from your website. Try using tracking and analysis tools like ClickHeat and Hot Jar to see where your customers are looking. Act on the data by removing sections of your site that are unpopular. Create the ultimate user experience (UX) by reacting to their habits (listening to their needs). And if you’re not sure, try asking them on social media or through customer questionnaires.
Your business only exists because of your customers. If push comes to shove, you may be able to survive without some of your staff members, but you can’t survive without your customers. So start standing out and connecting with them today.