Think Small and Grow BIG
by Kristie Tamsevicius
In this ever-growing-techno-jungle we call the Internet, it's easy for
the little guys to get overlooked. If you aren't Coca-Cola,
Microsoft, or Amazon, it can be hard to compete. Small
businesses are faced with the challenge of standing out in the face
of giants. So how do you differentiate and survive? The key is to
be SMALL in a big way by capturing the essence of YOU in your
To illustrate my point I'll paint a picture. Imagine that you have a
taste for a strawberry milkshake, so you head down to Joe's Ice
Cream Parlor. When you walk in, Joe greets you with a smile and
asks, "How you doing Sam? Do you want the usual strawberry
shake?" You plop yourself down on the barstool and say, "That'd
be great!" Joe asks how the wife and kids are. You ask how Joe's
business is doing. Joe pours the milkshake into a tall curved
soda glass, pops a straw in, and puts not one, but two cherries on
What's good about this picture? It's small at it's best! It's the good
ole' days of Mom and Pop stores relived. You know that when you
go to Joe's you'll get more than a great milk shake you love, it's
the experience of it. And the value that Joe adds to that milkshake
goes a long way toward building and keeping a relationship with
that client. Let's talk about how you capture the "you" and put its
power to work in your business?
It all starts when you walk into Joe's Ice Cream Shop. The
nostalgic look, the music from the jukebox, the real whip cream he
tops his milk shakes with. Does your web site have stopping
power? If you don't capture the visitor's attention in a few
seconds, you've lost their business. Through use of friendly copy,
attractive graphics, and color you can add interest and set the tone
for your visitors.
The front door of your web site is the home page. You need to
state right at the top of the page: who you are, what you do, and
why customers should care! What is your unique selling point?
Are you friendly? Are you affordable? Are you available 24/7?
Do you have a specialty? Are you a one-stop shop?
Remember those catchy phrases you can't get out of your head:
Bounty, the quicker picker upper. Burger King - we make it your
way. Hertz, we try harder.. These are perfect examples of
slogans that tell customers immediately WHO you are and WHY
you are better than the rest.
WHAT ARE THE SPECIALS?
Joe lists his "soda for the day" right on his menu for all to see.
Similarly, you need to tell visitors about the exciting features your
site has to offer. Write home page that reads like a "special of the
day" menu telling customers about the free reports, the resources,
the products, and other features your site has to offer them. If you
offer a free initial trial or full money back guarantee make it
VISIBLE on your home page!
Just as Joe's conversation gave you a warm friendly shopping
experience, you can put personality in your web copy to create a
friendly visitor experience. Steer clear of web copy that makes
you sound like a high-pressure car salesman or a fancy high
profile VP of sales. Instead, write honestly with a personal
Your web site copy (writing) should NOT be a laundry list pulled
from your resume or simply listing your services. Instead, tell
people in your own words what you have to offer them, how it will
help them, how much they will save, how much easier it will make
things for them, how convenient your are. Think like a customer
and ask, "Why should I buy from this company versus the one
down the street?" The answers to THAT will form writing for your
USE OTHERS WORDS:
When your friend George said, "You've GOT to try the Milk
Shakes at Joe's. You won't believe how good they are" you were
SOLD! There's nothing like a heartfelt testimonial to build trust
and credibility. If you don't have a big brand name and the
reputation that goes with it, you'd need to give the customer a
reason to believe that you or your product does what you promise.
Testimonials do this. And honest words from a happy customer
will get you more customers than any high paid advertisement
A PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS:
Joe always had a way of making you feel right at home in his
shop. Similarly, by adding a picture of yourself on the web site,
your customers will feel like they know you. The more customers
feel they know you, the more likely they will want to do business
If you don't have a good picture of yourself here's some ideas for
you. Go to Sears, Glamour Shots, or JC Penny studio and get
one taken. If you take "horrible" formal pictures, consider taking
one of you "in action" doing what you do. If you teach, consider
showing a picture of you working with students. You can even
"cut" yourself out of a good casual shot, remove the background,
add a shadow, and make a GREAT head shot! See my picture on
about us page http://www.kcustom.com/aboutus.htm.
TERRIBLE formal picture because I hate getting my picture taken.
This one is of me in Key West on my honeymoon. No wonder I
look so happy!
If you sell widgets, show a picture of your product on your web
site. When people shop in a store they like to feel, touch, and hold
the product. Recreate this experience with pictures and visual
imagery with words. Don't tell customers that it's "solid leather
construction", instead tell them "the seat is made with leather so
soft you'll sink right into it"!
MAINTAIN FRIENDLY, RESPONSIVE COMMUNICATION WITH
Have you ever gone to a store counter and waited, and WAITED?
You could see the store clerk standing up there chatting with her
fellow sales clerk. You clear your throat, and try to make eye
contact with her, and then FINALLY she comes over and asks,
"Can I help you?" This is how your customers feel when they send
your business an email and you don't respond right away.
Responses to emails should be timely. If you don't have time to
answer someone's question right away, send them a note to tell
them you got their inquiry and when they CAN expect an answer.
Go back in your head to the "waiting at the counter" scenario . . .
when the clerk says, "I'll be right with you" it sure makes you feel
better doesn't it? This tells the customer "You are important to me, I
noticed you, and I will help you soon as I can"
OFFER IMPECCABLE SERVICE:
The key to Joe's success at the Ice Cream Shop wasn't just his
incredible milk shakes; it was the value he added by adding the
extra cherry on top. Promise 8 and deliver 9. What do you do to
add value to your business? Give freely of yourself by adding
those little extras.
IT'S ALL IN THE PACKAGING:
Somehow milkshakes never taste as good in a paper cup with a
plastic lid. And even though the milkshake may cost $1 extra at
Joe's, you don't mind because you know your are getting your
money's worth. Think of ways to package your services that are
attractive and convenient for your clients. Don't nickel and dime
your customers to death. Sometimes $150 per hour fees can
sound pretty scary to clients. Think perhaps about creating a
package with a set number of offerings at a set price. You could
offer a basic, a deluxe, and the GOLD package. When clients
know exactly what to expect, it takes the "fear" out of their
ANSWERING THE PHONE:
I don't know about you, but there is nothing that impresses me
more when I call a customer help number and actually get
HUMAN live help! I want a person who listens and understands
my problems. I don't want to choose options 1, 2, or 3 and push a
button on the phone.
When Joe answers the phone he says "Welcome to Joe's Ice
Cream Shop, this is Joe!" What a nice first impression that makes!
Smile when you answer, people will hear the difference in your
BE SMALL - BE YOU - You won't believe the difference it makes!
I can tell you from experience that being "myself" is what has built
my business. And everyday as I build web sites for small business
owners I help them put a piece of themselves into it. The
importance of branding yourself cannot be overstated. Take a
look at your own business. Try to look with a different set of eyes.
How do you present yourself? Does my site "feel" like a warm
comfortable place to do business OR does your web site look like
screaming over-hyped ad or business brochure? Remember the
secret to competing with the BIG guys, lies in adding the human
touch to your service, your communication, and your web site! Act
small for BIG profits!
~ Article by Kristie Tamsevicius, author of
"The Ultimate Guide to Creating and Marketing eBooks."
Kristie Tamsevicius is President of Kristie's Custom Design
(http://www.kcustom.com) a full service web development and hosting
Subscribe to our FREE Internet marketing ezine THE EDGE
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