The internet has opened the door to an unprecedented opportunity to find a wide variety of products and services like never before. We are exposed to a tremendous number of businesses providing all levels within a given market – low, low-cost providers, to high-end ones as well. And while the concept of ordering online has some challenges – such as the ability to “touch and feel” something before we buy to the need to coordinate delivery, often times these are minimized over time and internet sales in all industries are growing every year. In fact, in many instances, what the internet business model has brought to us is the concept of commodity shopping.
While this is a little scary to many small businesses – and even some large ones too, what we are starting to find is the need to find the best manner in which to compete with the online competition, or even how to drive business to our own online storefronts.
One important way to compete, is to develop a value proposition that can be easily explained and communicated to our existing clients and prospects alike. What is it that makes you different than everyone else, and truly makes it worth the potential additional expense or means of dealing direct with you versus an easy online sale? Perhaps this is in the variety of options you can provide, or the technical support you offer. Maybe it is your convenient location – a hometown presence versus working with someone shipping from 3 to 4 states away! Or just the ability to actually meet and build a relationship with a real person!
Whatever your specific value is that can help differentiate you in the marketplace, know that it makes very little difference to anyone if in fact you do not do a good job of communicating it. We can all get a little lazy here, or even think that we do a better job than we really do – but as I have suggested many times in the past, most of us will get tired of repeating our message well before most people have even heard it!
A great way to share this value is through the use of content marketing. Instead of just developing a nice brochure about your company, product or service as was the accepted practice 10-15-20 years ago, now take the time to create multiple platforms that show your expertise through blogs, white papers, digital publications, resource guides, etc. Direct clients and prospects to these, and also consider printing them out to bring in person the next time you meet with a client. One of the cornerstones of social media marketing is the concept of social interaction – but often times we forget that this can be more than just online. The personal phone call or better yet, a personal visit, is just about as social as you can get!
In the end, there will be many individuals that will take the time and energy to find the lowest price online, versus taking a drive to your local business – and in most of these cases, there will be very little you can do about it. This is how they prefer to shop, and you will not be able to change them. However, there are those that will prefer to do business with someone they can talk to, rely on and interact with. It is your job to attract them and then communicate the why they should do business with you.
What is the value you bring?