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Stand Out In a Crowded Market

crowded-marketBusiness owners often find frustration in being found in a crowded market. There will always be someone with a larger budget and more resources. Think of how Amazon and Walmart are going head to head. Who will come up with the most unique strategy? A national eye care company such as Pearl Vision or America’s Best compete against an independent optometry office. Making a dent to gain market share is never easy but using a blend of strategy, tenacity, and innovation is the key to winning.

The Pricing Race to the Bottom

Business owners often feel they need to try and compete on price. Crowded spaces often result in a race to the lowest price. Because market leaders can survive the deepest cuts, smaller players need a different strategy of cooperation if they want to compete.

Cooperation can set you apart. What do we mean by cooperation? Take two complimenting businesses who serve similar types of customers and create a joint marketing program. How can you differentiate your combined services? For example… a marketing company may partner with an event planning company. The event planning company may handle the logistics, equipment rental, be the event’s project manager, but they still need the support of social media, graphic design and perhaps marketing strategy. Together the two companies are stronger and each has their client base that they can market expanded services to. So, in essence, you’ve doubled down on your client base by marketing each other.

Create Your Own Raving Fans

Not many big companies retain a reputation for stellar customer service. Industry giants have time and money on their side, but growth often comes with a price.

Smaller businesses can set themselves apart by delivering outstanding customer service. That could be in the form of birthday acknowledgement, personal phone contact, surveys, and a philosophy of customer service as part of your company’s DNA. Everyone involved with that customer from the receptionist to the CEO should play a role in helping their customers.

Find a Pain Point and Create a Solution

Agility is a key component of this concept and starts with active listening. Smaller companies can make their brand heard by improving on something people didn’t realize companies could fix. Get to the root of a problem by saving people time, money or hassle, and you could quickly gain ground while established players scramble to keep up.

Think about a recent invention you saw and said to yourself, “I wished I thought of that!” Those people are often seen on Shark Tank. They have found a pain point and developed a solution to solve the problem.

People deal with thousands of inconveniences they would love to ditch if they had better options. Provide those options in an easy, non-interruptive way, and the masses will toss aside existing solutions in favor of your smarter method.

Find Your Edge and Keep Sharpening the Blade

To maintain a competitive edge, smaller companies need to bring something special to the table. What’s not always easy, however, is figuring out what that something special should be.

Limit your focus and efforts to one innovation at a time. Set some time parameters as to how long you will focus on a given effort and measure the results. When I worked in commercial sales, we would take a given vertical and work that vertical for a quarter focusing on new business efforts in only that space. For example, one quarter would be hotels, another quarter restaurants, another quarter retail, etc.

When that innovation doesn’t take off, make a note of the experiment and move on to the next. When something works, invest a little more money and keep sharpening your tactics. If the extra budget doesn’t produce extra results, pull back, but if you see more success, keep sharpening the blade. You may be surprised by how much people like what you create.

In today’s crowded market space, it is possible to have a voice and be recognized. If taking on big businesses and winning were easy, everyone would do it. Successful startups earn their reputations because they achieve the improbable. You can overcome the odds and establish your business in the face of stiff competition. To do so, however, you need innovative tenacity and an idea worth your unconditional commitment.

Struggling with your differentiators or how to compete for market share, give us a call 724-612-0755 or email us for a 30-minute complimentary phone consultation.

About the author: Autumn Edmiston is the CEO and owner of the Edmiston Group. The Edmiston Group is a multifaceted Pittsburgh based marketing consulting firm providing senior-level marketing management services to businesses and non-profit organizations on a short or long-term basis. Core areas of service are business development strategies, website creation and management, social media management, marketing, strategic planning, and public relations. The Edmiston Group has consistently delivered and implemented real-world, proven business marketing ideas and strategies for business.

PLANNING TIPS FOR THE REMAINDER OF 2019

holiday-planningWith the 4th of July closing with a bang, it is hard to wrap your mind around the fact that it is time to begin planning for the fall and winter holiday seasons as you end 2019. Whether you offer B2B or B2C services, planning is essential for growth.

As a B2B, identify your target companies in your given verticals. Know their business cycles. For example, if you want to work with government entities, know that they are already starting to think of their budgets for 2020. If you wait until October to establish a relationship, chances are you have missed the budgeting window for the next year.

Although July may be prime vacation time, it can also be a time to reflect on the first half of the year and target potential prospects for the remainder of 2019. Perhaps there are networking events to attend and with potential businesses follow-up. Add people you meet to your newsletter list to regularly touch base with them. Set the reoccurring events in your calendar and regularly attend to establish a business presence.

For B2C, the holiday season is one of the largest spending holidays for consumers. Consumers are shopping online more than ever. Give them a reason to come into your store. Look how Kohl’s has established a relationship with Amazon returns. They are betting when people come into the store with an online purchase return, they will also purchase from Kohl’s.

With shopping days such as, Back to School Sales, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and all the other special sale days, it’s important to have a plan in place. The Edmiston Group has already planned a B2C sale for one of our clients for their August/September ads. It’s hard to think about Back to School in early July.

There are some important steps and planning that are required to have a successful holiday season.

  • Set clear, obtainable goals. It gives both you and your employees something to work toward. Have different rewards for reaching company goals. Keep everyone focused on the prize while working together to achieve the goal. Determine and communicate to your staff the different reward values for achieving larger and smaller goals. This will help keep everyone motivated and excited about the holiday season. Be certain to deliver the promised rewards. A pizza party or some Starbucks gift cards can go a long way. Always remember to thank your employees for a job well done.
  • Financially planning for the holidays is important to being successful. Most businesses or companies have inventory in stock, especially if you are a storefront or goods-based company. Perhaps establishing a line of credit will allow you to have extra available finances that are important to be able to purchase holiday inventory. Moving into the holiday cash strapped can leave a company short on funds to purchase the number of goods needed to get through the upcoming holiday.
  • Plan out any special events for each holiday. Will your office or business have a party for each holiday? If so, what is your budget for the party, where and when will it be held? How will you notify your customers about the special event? Do you offer customer reward programs and VIP events such as early bird sales or special discounts for family and friends?
  • Make sure your team is educated. Holidays are often a time of stress for consumers. Enable your customers to enjoy a pleasurable shopping experience with you by delivering a strong customer service experience. Keep your employees educated on your company’s goods and services, along with any specials or sales you plan on having. This type of communication enables them to deliver a strong customer experience to frenzied customers.

In summary… B2C make sure you have a plan in place for the delivery and sale of the newest, most popular products on the market. Financially prepare for purchase of needed inventory. Educate your employees on new products and upcoming sales. Communicate upcoming events to your customers.

B2B know your client verticals and their sales cycles. Target your message and identify pain points to become a problem solver. Be consistent in your marketing efforts – via shared articles, newsletters and social media.

You will find that with proper planning and execution, your business will yield the results this upcoming fall and into the holiday season.

About the author: Autumn Edmiston is the CEO and owner of the Edmiston Group. The Edmiston Group is a multifaceted Pittsburgh based marketing consulting firm providing senior-level marketing management services to businesses and non-profit organizations on a short or long-term basis. Core areas of service are business development strategies, website creation and management, social media management, marketing, strategic planning, and public relations. The Edmiston Group has consistently delivered and implemented real-world, proven business marketing ideas and strategies for business.

SCALING YOUR BUSINESS

scaling-your-businessAre you ready to scale your business but don’t know how to bring on the right team? Don’t base decisions on where you are – base them on what you want to become. One of the first things to determine is what type of company do you want to become.

Most of us can remember a time where our parents questioned our friends as we grew up. While it was an annoyance, it taught us the important lesson of making sure that we surround ourselves with the right people. By selecting a strong group of friends, you create a circle of people that are there to support you, cheer your big accomplishments and help to pull you up when you fall. That same mindset of surrounding yourself with the “right” people is extremely important as a business owner.

Trusted business partnerships can be an important part of small business growth. Recruiting might not always be the answer. Often it can be better to outsource tasks and functions to ensure the best outcomes. Also, realize when you need to delegate responsibility. Perhaps you can outsource particular functions to a fractional CFO, Marketing Director or HR professional. You can build a virtual management team that can offer focused services and strategy for company growth.

When your business starts to scale up growth, it is hard, and things can begin to creak. Weaknesses can be exposed, and you can’t always fix them quickly once the journey is started. You could be held back by your IT system, processes, cash flow, team or all of the above.

Do you know the difference between management and leadership? While managers plan, organize and coordinate, leaders have a vision; they persuade, inspire and motivate others. Think now about how you can build your leadership capacity to grow your company.

Create the right culture and an environment where people want to be and want to excel – then get out of the way and let them get on with it. All team members must be properly engaged, valued, motivated, recognized and rewarded. Everyone must pull in the same direction.

Small business is a fast-paced environment. With the onslaught of social media and other changes in technology, it’s a never-ending quest to stay abreast of new trends. Hiring the wrong person or a non-team player may take your already overwhelming workload and increase it, causing more pain than relief.

  • References. It is amazing how many companies ask for references and never even look into them. References are an important part of finding out who the person is that you are looking to hire. It’s also important to check out the person’s social media platforms. Find out who they are outside of the workplace. This will help to determine if they are right for your company’s culture.
  • Proper interview. As you interview your prospective employees, take the time to find out who they are. Questions like: What are you passionate about? What is your greatest accomplishment? How do you handle conflict or challenge? Why should I hire you over someone else?
  • Trust your gut. While the prospective employee may seem “nice”, what does your gut tell you? As a business owner, you have followed your gut on many occasions and it has led you to this point in your business career, so don’t stop listening to it now.
  • Multiple rounds of interviews. Be sure to have more than one interview with the person. Include other people in the interviews such as other employees, partners, or mentors. This will help you to get a better perspective on the person being interviewed. Remember that your employees are the ones who will be working with the recruit every day and valuing their opinion can help to make a more cohesive workplace.

While being a business owner is a rewarding experience, surrounding yourself with the right people, can help you take your business to new heights. Take the time to properly vet consultants and prospective employees. Building a strong team and leading with a vision to inspire your team can help make your business a success.

About the author: Autumn Edmiston is the CEO and owner of the Edmiston Group. The Edmiston Group is a multifaceted Pittsburgh based marketing consulting firm providing senior-level marketing management services to businesses and non-profit organizations on a short or long-term basis. Core areas of service are business development strategies, website creation and management, social media management, marketing, strategic planning, and public relations. The Edmiston Group has consistently delivered and implemented real-world, proven business marketing ideas and strategies for business.

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