If you were going out for dinner tonight and had narrowed down the choice of restaurant to two, how would you decide which one to go to? You could look at reviews, ask friends and family for recommendations or choose the one that looks the most interesting, inviting and has the best selection of food.
I faced this dilemma a few weekends ago when I went down to Newcastle; some friends and I were deciding where to eat on the first night and we went to a craft beer and BBQ smokehouse, called Bierrex. Why?…because it was different.
In our experience, a lot of small business owners are not good at answering this question. They feel like I’m trying to trip them up or as if I have caught them off guard by asking them this. The truth is I’m not. And neither are you customers. They just want to know why they should buy from you; and if you can’t answer this question, you’ve got a serious problem.
Now what does this dilemma have to do with your small business? The answer is everything. Potential customers may be looking at buying from you right now but are torn between you and one of your rivals – why should they choose you?
What Extra Can You Offer That No One Else Can?
Don’t worry though, as like anything, some careful planning, research and marketing can help you here. What do other businesses in your space offer and how can you fill any gaps not currently served by your rivals? Could you open at the weekend when they’re closed? Do you offer a 365 day money-back guarantee when no-one else will? Do you freely share knowledge, in the form of e-books, blogs and videos?
However, when thinking about your business’s unique selling point (USP), or what makes you different from your competitors, don’t say something generic like: “my business provides a friendly, professional and bespoke service”. This is a given as most people would expect that from EVERY business they deal with!
Start with you as the small business owner. There’s only one of you and you bring something unique to the table which you can capitalise on to stand out from rivals. In other words, exploit the obvious: what skills, knowledge, or contacts can you offer that no-one else can? Don’t forget your personality too as people really do buy from people.
By bringing together these two elements, what your business can do that your competitors don’t, plus your unique contribution as the business owner, your unique selling point begins to emerge and you can really start to answer the question, “Why should I buy from your small business?”.
If you’re struggling with this, why don’t you ask your best customers why they chose to work with you?
Zappos and The Pizza Story!
One company that has chosen customer service as its differentiator is the American online retailer,Zappos. I’ve just finished reading Tony Hseish’s (Zappos CEO) book, “Delivering Happiness” and would encourage you to read it, particularly for the awesome insights on building a company culture through values and delivering service.
One story I’d like to share from Delivering Happiness concerns going above and beyond customer expectations. Bearing in mind that Zappos started as an online SHOE retailer, there is a famous story where Tony Hseish was out drinking with some suppliers are dared one of the woman he was with to phone up Zappos and order a pizza!
When the woman got through to Zappos (remember, a shoe retailer), she tried to order a pizza and the call operator said that Zappos don’t do pizzas, however, she could provide the contact details for some local takeaways places or, if the woman liked, the call operator would order the pizza for her!
Now Zappos don’t do pizzas, but what this extreme example shoes, is that they do excellent customer service that really goes above and beyond what is expected. Not only that, I have read it in Tony’s book and I am now writing about Zappos here which is effectively “free” marketing for them. But this kind of “customer WOW” doesn’t need to be reserved for the big boys, as small business owners like us can deliver it to. When was the last time you didn’t just meet your customers’ expectations but truly delighted them by going above and beyond?
Epic Customer Experience
Going back to the Bierrex, what got our interest and caused us to walk through the door was that they were offering something different. Whilst that’s great, “different” could also have been weird or disappointing – the food may have been too “out there” and the service could’ve been too nonchalant.
However, the food was stunning (see the picture to the right!) and the service was awesome: the waiter asked how we were enjoying Newcastle and appeared to take a real interested in us. Now you may be thinking that the server was only doing that to get a decent tip (and you could be right!) but the principle is sound – by providing an epic experience through customer service, we are likely to go back to Bierrexduring our next visit to Newcastle and tell everyone about it. And that’s why we should buy from them.
So why should I buy from your small business? Leave your reason below and I look forward to reading your thoughts on this.