15 Small Business Tips To Beat the Big Store Competition

Small Business Mom & Pop Stores are being increasingly pushed out by the big box stores. There is stiff  competition for the same customers – and more often than not, it’s the small business that loses out. After putting up a fight, many such small businesses eventually shut shop – unable to fight the big store. But small businesses can and should fight back and reclaim their business. Given below are 15 tips that small businesses can use to fight back. 

 

Small_Business_Can_Beat_Big
How Small Business can Beat Big

 

Yes, there are lots of customers who are drawn to the convenience of finding everything under one roof.  But then there will always be customers who don’t prefer the big stores. Your task is to identify and reach out to those customers and give them a supreme experience, thus validating their dislike of the big box.

Here are a few tips you could use in your business.

  1. Beat them on Service. Realize that you cannot beat the big competitor on price alone. But you can definitely beat them on service. The service you can provide – either yourselves, or through well trained employees – can never be replicated by the big store!
  2. Arrange for Local or Exotic Products –  You cannot find locally made or exotic products at the big store. This is because their buyers from headquarters don’t have the ability to source at a per store level. Their loss is your gain. Go after this business with a vengeance.
  3. Support local producers – When you source from local producers, they in turn support you. There will be a lot of word-of-mouth when local producers talk good about you.
  4. Have a Story – And make sure people know it. Have pictures posted around your store! Maybe a picture of the day your first store opened. Maybe you sitting at the counter for the first time. Let your customers  feel like they are stepping into a friend’s house rather than a cold commercial environment.
  5. Know each customer personally – This is another detail that the big stores can’t do. You on the other hand can and should know each customer by name. The more you know about them the better it is for you. Learn about what they do, what their hobbies are, about their children etc. File it away in a folder for quick reference – and keep the folder in the back room.
  6. Learn why they support you – You must find out from your customer why they support you. And what they dislike about the big store. Is it proximity to where he lives? Is it the timings you offer? Is it convenience of some kind? Does he like your product selection or arrangement ? Or the music you play? Or the fact that there are no announcements in your store that bug him?  Learn this and exemplify it.
  7. Allow customization of orders – People like to buy non-traditional amounts or types of produce and other stuff. Big box stores need special permission – if they can do it at all –  before you can buy something not in the package. You on the other hand, can give away single items or packages – in any number to your customers. Just make sure you are not making a loss doing this.
  8. Offer loyalty discounts – Customers like to come back for discounts being offered on something that they have purchased in the past.
  9. Create a Customer List. Get their phone numbers, and email addresses. Send them personal customized emails to bring them back into the shop. Automate the above and you are golden.
  10. Offer treats in the shop. Treat your customer’s children royally – and they will love you for it.
  11. Be truthful to your customer. If a particular item is past its expiry date – or the fashion is not trendy any more, be truthful – and tell them about it. Lt the customer know that you are watching out for her.
  12. Participate at local functions – Be visible. When there are events going on, make it a point to appear on stage and have a short talk. You may also offer a time-bound discount  for ” participants of the event coming to your shop today and tomorrow”.
  13. Donate – Help out local people who you may have heard are not doing well. You can donate in cash or kind. When the word gets out about your charity – there will be a general feeling of good-will that’ll be beneficial for you.
  14. Take Leadership – There are myriad causes that need leadership and help in your area. Are the roads dug up and travel difficult? Is there too much violence in your part of town? Is there any other pressing issue that is in the minds of the people? Commit yourselves to the cause. Take responsibility to achieve something for the cause. Those that benefit from your actions will spend money with you.
  15. Special Orders – How about stocking and providing bulk quantities or customized material for your customers?  You can take their order ahead of time and provide very specialized service.
  16. Check with suppliers – When a customer comes in with a special request, don’t say No. Tell them you will check with your suppliers and get back to them.  – And do it.

Bonus tip: In many countries, local businesses can force politicians to pass laws against the number and types of big business in their town. Use your long standing in such localities – and your good name cultivated over the years – to block proliferation of big box stores. 

About the Author : Deep Janardhanan is a marketer, business coach and lead acquisition specialist. He works with SMEs to help them grow multifold in a short period of time.  If you like what you see here, please link to us. 

The permalink for this article is  http://greater-profits.com/2014/12/16/15-small-business-tips-to-beat-the-big-store-competition.

 

How to increase sales by upto 800% – with a Contiguous Branding Experience.

In the first article on branding, we talked about why its necessary for an entrepreneur to think of branding even before his very first sale.

We talked about branding being important for the business to not to confuse the customer and to make sure that you are not having to create trust anew every single time. Once the customer has bought from you, and the experience has been good, the trust is already created. The business now only has to maintain and carry forward that trust and use it to sell more easily – and here is where the brand contiguity comes in.

A consistent user experience  needs to be created within the same session or across multiple interactions and across multiple properties – digital and offline with the company.

The following infographic is about where and how the brand can provide a contiguous user experience to its customers.

BrandingContiguity

 

 

When the same brand is used across all the properties and media, there is nearly 77% increase in conversion, especially from repeat buyers. The feelings evoked in the customers mind regarding the previous good experience is carried on – helping to make another sale; possibly of a bigger value.

 

A few examples of good branding contiguity: 

  • TATA (Salt to Transport to Industrials to Power Gen)
  • Fedex (Courier Services & Logistics)
  • Comcast (Cable & Telecommunications)
  • Hyundai ( Personal Transport, Industrials)

 

Summary:

This article/infographic talks about how a business can offer a consistent branding experience to its customers for a much higher rate of repeat business.

Like What You See?  Link to us from your site. Your customers will love you.  Here is the full permanent link: http://greater-profits.com/2014/12/11/contiguous-branding-experience/

If you like this, please, let me know.

Authority and how it affects you – the Business Owner!

Summary : This article will try to explain the use of Authority in your sales page,  one of the lost nuggets of marketing wisdom; or marketing psychology if you will. Authority differentiates you from all the others in your corner of the crowded market place. With authority, you tower above the others.

People like to listen to people – rather than think for themselves. If this person they are listening to exudes a sense of authority, they feel better. Most people automatically listen to someone with power and charisma and seemingly knowledge of the subject without much deliberation.

There have been experiments conducted where people (seemingly) inflict serious injuries to others without a second thought just because a person in authority asked them to.

Authority is the ability to coerce, force or influence people by merely taking a stand, or asking people to do a certain thing!

Why do people listen to someone in authority?

Its probably because they feel helped along. You are not forced to make any choices!

Maybe its because they are confused due to the multiple options – none of which they are sure about.
These options may have unknown outcomes, which may even be detrimental. And guess what, when they are detrimental, we don’t want to be the cause of that!

On the other hand, when someone in authority tells us to do something, and there is a negative outcome, we can always blame someone else for the outcome !!!
What does this mean to us ? As business owners?

This means, if we attain that position of authority, or we use someone that displays authority, to show people the way to buying from us, our selling job is made much easier.

Please note that I said “displays authority”!

It does not have to be someone who necessarily has attained that authority by way of office or power or other influence. It only has to appear that he has a certain authority.

So, if along with the rest of the selling tips on this site, you also add the power of authority to your sales letter, chances are people will follow you along! The doubts that they may have been harboring are now removed,  a new trust relationship is formed between you and your customer as they have been directed by a person in authority.

But, how do we achieve this authority?

There are multiple ways you can achieve authority, and then display that authority.

Use an authoritative figure, or use someone widely recognized as having authority:

Think back to any ad that you see on TV for either a healthcare product or a safety product. Even a toothpaste is being sold by someone wearing a white lab coat.

How about handwash? A person who is obviously a doctor ( or apparently obvious) tells you that his brand kills 99% of germs.

Talk about Horlicks or Boost or Bournvita – we get the same health care professional looking man/woman telling us that this product ups the body’s intake of vitamins by 200% !

Another form of authority would be sportspeople who we know have achieved great physical feats- or show lots of endurance in their daily activities. For eg. Cricketers selling health foods, Film actresses selling beauty products etc.

 Someone already having accepted authority must confirm your knowledge or expertise.
This is where we use testimonials in our sales copy.  Either someone who is an acknowledged expert, or someone like the reader who has attained great results from using your product would do.

Others must link to your page.
This is another form of authority. When your readers arrive at your page from another web site they already admire/respect, this admiration is passed on to the destination page via the link.

What other people say about you is more important than what you say about yourself.
This means you can write a long and descriptive bio on your own web page, but it needs to be corroborated by others (who are not directly related to your business).

Certifications and other institutional accolades:
Many experts have PhDs, certificates and other trophies that well known institutions confer upon them to use as authority status.

You are called on the media for your expertise.
Imagine you make friends with the local newspaper reporter, who calls on you for your quotes on various topics of your interest. You automatically become an authority in the eyes of your audience.

Authority – or a person who has authority may mean different things in different contexts…

Imagine on TV, a mechanic in oil-stained overalls pulls be he pulls out from under the car he has been repairing and tells you that a certain product  is very effective for making you smarter. Would you believe him?

On the other hand, if this same person will tell us that a certain product removes stains, and we will agree with him right away!

Every situation has its own authority figure that makes sense for that particular situation.

Summary:
This article thus explains the use of an authority figure, or become one ourselves in order to better our sales numbers.

Thank you for reading.

If you like this, please link to this article from your site. Your readers will love you. Here is the full link ( http://greater-profits.com/2014/12/08/authority-and-how-it-affects-you-the-business-owner/ )

Want help with using Authority for increasing your profits? Contact us  +91. 9769400671!

45 Sure Ways to Wreck Your Customer Relationships

This post by Peter Economy @ Inc.com ( 45 sure fire ways to Wreck  ) brings front and center the points I had written about in my articles a couple years ago about how to make your customers feel special….

and another one here regarding treating your customer right

Happy Reading…

DJ @ greater-profits

Branding – What It Means and specifically; What It Means To You -The Entrepreneur

Hello Dear Friends,

In this new series, we will try and tackle branding. This article being the primer will talk briefly about what branding is, and how to start thinking about your brand.

Branding   Define Branding at Dictionary.com

From the wild west: 

The earliest references for brand comes from the back of cattle! The cowboys of the wild west would carry a branding iron on their horses when they were out on the ranch and whenever they found a new calf without their brand(a mark on the side to identify the owner), they would brand it before letting it loose again!

Branding at that time too meant a symbol that stood for an organization; a mark of a certain person – or brand!

Branding today:

Today, we use Branding or Brand as an all-encompassing word to mean what we think of ; the feeling we get when we think of a particular Commercial Enterprise or Individual.  In marketing, this word is truly all-encompassing. This is because we purchase not the features of a product, but the benefits that the product and bring us.

To be clearer, we don’t really buy a product for its listed features. We don’t normally buy a car because it has 4 seats and a steering wheel and it has the capacity to take us somewhere. Most often when we buy a car, we buy it because we identify with what the company stands for – the safety record of the cars, the luxury perception, the performance quotient etc.

What does this mean to you as an Entrepreneur?  That is Brand You! 

For an entrepreneur newly starting out in business, the number one thing in your mind is sales –  which makes sense. After all if you are unable to make sales, your business is as good as dead in the water!

However, you must start thinking of your brand before you make your first sale.   This is because everything you do before the sale, during and after you sale, goes into creating your brand in the minds of your customer.

The description of your product, the price you charge, the package you put your product in, the person that picks up the phone in your office, how you handle exchanges or refunds… In short, every interaction you have with your customer affects your brand perception directly.

A good brand is worth its weight in gold, where as a brand that has lost its sheen is often dead in the water and a drag on the resources of its owner.

Branding starts with your business name, your logo and even your place of business. Branding is affected by whether  you are online or purely offline or both.

Hence, it is rather important for business owners to think actively about creating your brand. If you don’t a brand will be created for you – and you will have no control over what it looks like.  To build a big business – rather to make a profitable business, it is very important that you create a positive brand around you, and then utilize it and nurture it for the service of your customers.

Over the next few posts, we will discuss in more detail how to carve a brand for yourself!

Summary: Brand Perception is the feeling your name/logo etc invokes in a prospect or a customer. The time to think of branding is before you make your first sale.

33 Negotiation Tips To Help You Come Out Ahead

If you are in business, you Negotiate!  

You negotiate with your partners, employees, auditors, vendors, bankers, competitors, lawyers.

Every person you meet in business will negotiate with you for a better deal; and you do the same with them.

Even in personal life, you are always negotiating. Here are a few examples.

  • Your wife wants to go to the Chinese place for dinner, while you negotiate to order in pizza.
  • Your kid wants the new toy thats coming out for Christmas; and you want him to finish studying his multiplication tables to get it.
  • Your parents want you to come home for Christmas, while you want to spend the holidays in Hawaii.

Whenever we deal with people, we are negotiating for something or the other.  So, here are a few tips to keep in mind when you are preparing for negotiations as well as during negotiations. These will enable you to  have better odds of getting more out of your negotiations.

Preparation.

How you fare in negotiations will depend on your level of preparedness.
1)  Do your homework and learn about as many aspects of the expected negotiation and the negotiators, if possible.
2) Who are you dealing with?
3) What are his strengths/weaknesses?
3) Is he the final decision maker?
4) What is the least he is willing to accept to give me what I want?
5) What does he know of my strengths/weaknesses?
6) Is he a straightshooter or is he known to hide things?
7) Is he passionate about this subject matter and know a lot or is he susceptible to bluff?
8) Is there something you can do for him as a favor, which will bear upon the outcome of this negotiation?
9) What are the accepted standards in this country, industry or culture?
10) What alternatives would he be willing to accept if not the best option for him?

The Negotiation Setting.
1) What date and time are you going to meet this person to negotiate with? Is it set to your advantage or disadvantage?
 I’ve heard of a business tycoon flying in his competition and going into meetings with them right when they are too tired by the long flight to think straight. At the same time, you need to have your head on straight. You should not be distracted by other problems in your business.
2) Where are you going to hold the negotiation?
 – You have a home advantage if its at your office. Usually for negotiations where a lot is at stake, people use a neutral venue.
3) Who are the people who will appear on your side?
 – A show of force may be a big factor in the negotiations. A lawyer on your team will make it look like you have the law on your side.
4) People who appear taller, better looking, in better health, have a natural advantage and have a better chance of gaining more ground in a negotiation.
 -Remember the tale about keeping the visitor’s chair shorter than yours so you appear taller?
5) A smaller table in a small room is much better than a big table with empty chairs in a big room. A small room makes everything less formal and hence its easier to arrive at a meeting point.
6) If the negotiation is between two people, sit at the corner of the table so you are next to each other, instead of being at opposite sides of the table.
7) If you want it to be a friendly negotiation, choose a less formal venue such as a quiet restaurant.
8) As you arrive, take off your coat and hang it behind your seat. This makes you look vulnerable, and puts the opponent at ease.
9) Keep your hands on the table at all times to show that you have no hidden agenda. Hidden hands make people uneasy.
10)Nowadays, a lot of negotiations take place over the Internet or other telecommunications media. I believe this is ok when you already know the person you are negotiating with and you have previous experience of negotiating with that person. If its a new party you are involved with, its best to meet them face to face for your first negotiation. Nothing beats a hand shake during a meeting. Also, its rather difficult to pick up subtle nonverbal cues when you are across a televison screen.

Continued below…

Deep Janardhanan is the founder and Chief Creative Officer at Noble River Ventures; a full service marketing firm in Richmond,Virginia. He works with small businesses in the Richmond area advising them on marketing strategy and tactics. He also helps his clients with business negotiations. Noble River helps business with Website Design and Development, Social Media Marketing, Strategic Partnerships, Lead Generation and Conversion as well as Web & Print Copywriting.

Article Continues…

During the Negotiation

1) Make a big first offer, one that you are pretty sure will be rejected.  But this has the psychological effect of having set the anchor point or a reference point. Every subsequent offer your receive will be based on this first offer.

2) Make an aggressive counter offer. When you receive an offer, even if it was more than what you were expecting, make sure you ask for more.Its only expected.

3) Dont show your hand. Seek the most concessions while trying to give away only what you know are small concessions on your end, but may appear to be much bigger.

4) Ask lots of questions. Try to understand the basic driving forces behind his requests or offers. Encourage him to talk about his business and what has been going on lately.

5) Ask about why he chose to do business with you/ your company. The more he answers, the more he talks, the stronger your position in the negotiation.

6) I once met a professional mediator whose background was Broadway. He had perfected the art of looking distressed or elated at a moment’s notice. His negotiating skills were very highly valued since he could sway the direction of the negotiation merely by raising or dropping his voice suddenly with a look of disillusionment. You may want to practice this in front of the mirror.

7) Nod a lot when he is talking. This gives the impression that you are agreeing with him.

8) Follow his body signals(non-verbal cues). Hands folded may mean he is disagreeing or also that he is cold.

9) Ask him if he is comfortable. This will make you look like you have his best interests in mind too.

10) Get clarifications on the offer. Rephrase it in your own words, so there is no ambiguity. 

11) While you rephrase it, break his offer up into multiple pieces and enumerate each one. This will give you multiple points for demanding concessions.

12) If you are feeling pressured to accept, retreat. Its okay to take a break, and then regroup for more discussion.

13) Avoid distractions during the negotiations. Switch your phone off, ask your secretary to hold all calls. You dont want to lose out just because you spoke to your gym coach during a negotiation.
Further reading:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negotiation#Negotiation_Tactics
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Game_theory
http://www.slideshare.net/readysetpresent/negotiation-powerpoint

I agree this article was longer than most but I am putting it all together so that it can be most helpful.

Deep.