Marketing

How Small Business Value Competes with Price

Small Business CompetitionIn most industries, there is a big player usually taking market share based on price. You’ve seen the ads –

Bunnings – Where lowest Prices are just the beginning.

Officeworks – Big Ideas, Lowest Prices

Specsavers – Stylish Frames, Great Prices … and so on.

As we know, small business makes up 90+% of businesses in Australia. Unfortunately, many of them can’t compete with the large corporations on price. So how then do these businesses be heard over the noise of the large corporations?

This question ignited great discussion amongst my fellow members of the Albany Creek Business Contacts (ACBC) networking group. With a terrific cross section of small business represented not only from industry perspective but also taking into account micro-business, small business who employ and franchise representation, it was unanimously agreed that the message is the value small business can provide can outweigh dollar savings.

If you are in the business of selling products, small business can struggle with competitive price in relation to large corporations because they don’t have the buying power of the larger competitors – for example, large organisations purchases products for resale in much larger quantities than a small business competitor thereby having a better bargaining position to drive the purchase price down and then, in turn, being able to resell at a lower price. However, in many instances, you get what you pay for – cheap, short life, limited service and in some instances, low value for money.

Which leads to the point that the Best Price does not necessarily mean the cheapest price. By way of example, Uncle Henry does weekend electrical work at mates rates. Henry has worked in the construction industry for 15 years however, he isn’t a qualified sparky but has done lots of electrical installation in his time. His price to do some rewiring work and power point installation works out to $150 plus a six pack (and he will require lunch and a chat). A qualified electrician, with 15 years’ experience as an electrician, who keeps his skills current, uses correct and appropriate equipment which has been correctly maintained to industry standards, provides a guarantee/warrantee in relation to their work done and carries all appropriate insurances in relation to their business/work charges for the same job $250.

Using this example, a price driven customer would use Uncle Henry and run the risk of unsafe work and loss of insurance in the event of destruction caused by the electrical work. However, look beyond the price as to the value for money proposition and in this event, I would suggest, the customer would choose the qualified electrician to do the work.

So how does small business communicate the value proposition in the market place in order to compete against those promoting based on price? Well my ACBC colleagues believe it is about reputation for the value of using the small business.

OK, well that’s great I hear you say, but how does a small business build that reputation and get it out there?

Well here is some suggestions:

  • Blog about your business and how you add value/demonstrate expertise. In my example above, the qualified electrician can blog about his safety processes/checks and balances, the equipment he uses and why, industry knowledge and scams customers should be aware of and so on.
  • Promote the ethics of your business.
  • Engage in referral networks like ACBC where people get to know you and form strong bonds with your business to promote you to others.
  • Client Nurture Programs to engage existing clients/customers to share the love of you.
  • Gather and publish testimonials and reviews about your business.
  • Don’t assume that people (even friends and family) know about your business – explain to them what you do and what sets you apart from the competition.

When thinking about your value proposition you wish to communicate to the market place, ask yourself – if all businesses were the same for a customer, what would make them choose one over the other?

(Blog contributors – Rob Carmody (Australian Integrated Communications) Sally Balwin (Balanix Solutions) Kathy Patterson (Brendale Stationery Supplies) Matthew Fox (Brisbane hosting & Web Design) Kirsty Newbery (Caring Cottage) Brad Davies (Conquest Pest & Termite Control) Scott Deaves (David Deane Real Estate) De Wet van der Nest (Express Air Con Cleaning) Oriano Giammichele (GT Racing, Mobile Mechanic) Rhennen Ford (Streten Mason Lawyers) Tracey Carter (Scrub Mutts) Jason Matthey (Insurance Web) Damien Jenkins (Australian Unity, North Lakes) Anne-Louise Underwood (SMS Toolkits) Bruce Hall (Wombat Electrical)

Albany Creek Business Contacts consists of local quality and reliable businesses who provide a wide range of services from home and residential services to B2B and commercial services. Our service areas cover primarily Albany Creek, Eatons Hill, Brendale, Aspley, Warner, Chermside, Strathpine, North Lakes. However many members will cover greater areas.

Albany Creek Business Contacts meet fortnightly on a Wednesday morning for a 7am breakfast and networking meeting.

Balanix Solutions – Taxation | Accounting | Business Advise.

Situated in Strathpine on Brisbane North, we partner with our clients to assist them in their accounting, business management and bookkeeping needs. Our clients vary in industries from professional services (such as law, vet and dentist) to the trades (mechanic, bricklaying, plasterer etc), hospitality and retail. Are clients are located in the Pine Rivers area (including Brendale, Lawnton, Albany Creek and Eatons Hill) through to Kallangur, Petrie, North Lakes and Caboolture, as well as Brisbane South, the Gold Coast and various other parts of Queensland.

Call us today … we can help (07 3264 4783)

Business Planning – What Do We Include and How Does It Look

Caring Cottage Vision Board

Caring Cottage Vision Board

In a previous blog, business owners who are members of the Albany Creek Business Contacts discussed whether businesses really need to undertake business planning (“We Know We Should, So Why Then Don’t We?” http://balanixsolutions.com.au/we-know-we-should-so-why-then-dont-we/ ). It was agreed that businesses did need plans and that business planning needed to be more than just “in our head”. However, it was also agreed that business planning and plans could take various forms with various detail to support and meet the needs of the individual business.

So, what do business owners believe are the critical information to be contained in plans and what can they look like?

In relation to content, the following was proposed:

  • Real and enduring purpose – this needs to be clearly stated so every decision you make must support this purpose.
  • Stakeholder analysis – stakeholders include clients, suppliers, owners and staff.
  • Marketing/Advertising/Sponsorship plan.
  • Cashflow/Budget/Revenue & Expense analysis.
  • Risk Management/Contingency Plan
  • Pricing/Price Structure (eg, current pricing and planning for future increase)
  • Staff – roles/nature of employment (eg, part-time, full-time, contract etc)
  • Responsibilities and timeframes – ie, who is going to do what by when.

So what does the Business Plan need to look like? Well, in a nutshell – whatever suits you and your business, that you are going to use – whatever makes it visible!

Whenever business planning is mentioned images of 50+ page documents, which sit in a draw, never get used and collect dust, emerge. But this doesn’t have to be – they can take whatever form that makes sense to a business owner and enables them to run and grow their business. Suggested mediums that business use include:

  • Vision Boards (like the one Kirsty has above)
  • Operational Boards – eg, Marketing Board, Operations Board, IT Board etc
  • Notebook
  • iPad/Tablet/Phone
  • Mind Map
  • Whiteboard

The thing is successful businesses need to have direction and plans. However, those plans need to support the business not hinder.

(Blog contributors – Leonard Whittaker (Action Cycle Learning) Rob Carmody (Australian Integrated Communications) Sally Balwin (Balanix Solutions) Kathy Patterson (Brendale Stationery Supplies) Matthew Fox (Brisbane hosting & Web Design) Kirsty Newbery (Caring Cottage) Brad Davies (Conquest Pest & Termite Control) Scott Deaves (David Deane Real Estate) De Wet van der Nest (Express Air Con Cleaning) Oriano Giammichele (GT Racing, Mobile Mechanic) Stuart Bywater (Bywater Design) Rhennen Ford (Streten Mason Lawyers) Tracey Carter (Scrub Mutts) Jason Matthey (Insurance Web) Damien Jenkins (Australian Unity, North Lakes) Anne-Louise Underwood (SMS Toolkits) Bruce Hall (Wombat Electrical)

Albany Creek Business Contacts consists of local quality and reliable businesses who provide a wide range of services from home and residential services to B2B and commercial services. Our service areas cover primarily Albany Creek, Eatons Hill, Brendale, Aspley, Warner, Chermside, Strathpine, North Lakes. However many members will cover greater areas.

Albany Creek Business Contacts meet fortnightly on a Wednesday morning for a 7am breakfast and networking meeting.

Balanix Solutions – Taxation | Accounting | Business Advise.

Situated in Strathpine on Brisbane North, we partner with our clients to assist them in their accounting, business management and bookkeeping needs. Our clients vary in industries from professional services (such as law, vet and dentist) to the trades (mechanic, bricklaying, plasterer etc), hospitality and retail. Are clients are located in the Pine Rivers area (including Brendale, Lawnton, Albany Creek and Eatons Hill) through to Kallangur, Petrie, North Lakes and Caboolture, as well as Brisbane South, the Gold Coast and various other parts of Queensland.

Call us today … we can help (07 3264 4783)

How to ask Clients to Refer to You

Client ReferralsI was reading social media the other day and a post leapt out at me which said – “There is no longer such a thing as B2B (Business to Business) – there is only P2P (People to People)”. For many years now, business management literature has provided increasing evidence that success in business is underpinned by strong relationships with customers/clients. When it comes to gaining referrals, there are a number of processes. However, the success of these processes is couched in the 80/20 philosophy – 80% of effort is about relationship building (recognition of celebrations and feel good activities) and 20% is direct marketing.

We know from literature that it costs less to gain growth from an existing customer/client base than it does to gain new customers/clients. However, like cold calling, asking existing customers/clients to refer is revered by many business owners. So I asked the question of my business colleagues at the Albany Creek Business Contacts how they go about having the “referral” conversation with existing customers/clients.

In summary, it was identified there are two ways – subtly and directly. Subtle processes can include:

  • message on email signatures or marketing material (like a newsletter) along the lines of – ‘Our business is primarily based on referrals. If you know anyone that we could assist please let us know.’
  • when you meet a referred customer/client acknowledge the referral at the start and mention to them that you love receiving referrals from customers/clients.
  • when finishing a job, leave a few business cards with a thank you note (and maybe some lollies).

A more direct process is to commence with a “Satisfaction” appointment with existing clients. Invite a client for a coffee and seek feedback from them in relation to their satisfaction with you as a provider (this is also a great quality check – but that’s a whole other blog). If existing customers/clients are not satisfied with you then they are not like to refer (in fact they are more likely to negatively refer – that is, tell prospects to stay away) – and why would they refer – if you don’t have happy satisfied customers/clients, are you really entitled to be referred?

Once you have established satisfaction with the customer/client, you can work in asking for them to refer. Keep it conversational and where appropriate, be specific. Examples to approach this could include:

  • “since you are happy with how I solved that issue for you, do you know anyone else who has the same problem that you could let know about how I have solved it for you”
  • “I am glad you are happy with my work – I am particularly interested in expanding into high performance car maintenance and I noticed you attend the car racing regularly – do you have any connections in the sport or is it purely pleasure?”
  • “I am glad we have been able to take the pressure off you by doing your books and looking after your business’s financials so you can focus on what you do best. Are you involved in any business networking groups where members may need the same assistance?”

Once opportunity to refer has been established it is a matter of asking the question – “what would be the best way for me to meet them?” – that is, engage and involve your customer/client in the process of moving from the conversation to an actual referral.

Regardless of how you gain referrals, it is imperative that you look after and appreciate the referral with genuine interest and intent. It also doesn’t hurt to reward the person who provided the referral with a gift/acknowledgement for their generosity.

(Blog contributors – Leonard Whittaker (Action Cycle Learning) Rob Carmody (Australian Integrated Communications) Sally Balwin (Balanix Solutions) Kathy Patterson (Brendale Stationery Supplies) Matthew Fox (Brisbane hosting & Web Design) Kirsty Newbery (Caring Cottage) Brad Davies (Conquest Pest & Termite Control) Nathan Dobbins (Core Computers) Scott Deaves (David Deane Real Estate) De Wet van der Nest (Express Air Con Cleaning) Oriano Giammichele (GT Racing, Mobile Mechanic) Jason Matthey (Insurance Web) Anne-Louise Underwood (SMS Toolkits) Bruce Hall (Wombat Electrical) Tracie Palmer (Cornerstone Home Loans) Criag Chalmers (Royalty Home Services) Streten Mason Lawyers )

 

Albany Creek Business Contacts consists of local quality and reliable businesses who provide a wide range of services from home and residential services to B2B and commercial services. Our service areas cover primarily Albany Creek, Eatons Hill, Brendale, Aspley, Warner, Chermside, Strathpine, North Lakes. However many members will cover greater areas.

Albany Creek Business Contacts meet fortnightly on a Wednesday morning for a 7am breakfast and networking meeting.

Balanix Solutions – Taxation | Accounting | Business Advise.

Situated in Strathpine on Brisbane North, we partner with our clients to assist them in their accounting, business management and bookkeeping needs. Our clients vary in industries from professional services (such as law, vet and dentist) to the trades (mechanic, bricklaying, plasterer etc), hospitality and retail. Are clients are located in the Pine Rivers area (including Brendale, Lawnton, Albany Creek and Eatons Hill) through to Kallangur, Petrie, North Lakes and Caboolture, as well as Brisbane South, the Gold Coast and various other parts of Queensland.

 

Call us today … we can help (07 3264 4783)

What Makes a Good Sign for Your Business

Signs Signs, Everywhere, there’s signs

Blocking out the scenery Breaking my mind

Do this Don’t do that

Can’t you read the signs

(Five Man Electrical Band – 1970-71)

Blog Article What makes a good sign for your businessEverywhere you go there are signs advertising various products, services and businesses. Large building signs, street level A-frame signs, car signage, window signs and so the list goes on. With all this visual noise around us, we discussed the question today at the Albany Creek Business Contacts meeting – what makes a good sign that will attract the right attention and result in action by prospective customers/clients.

It was agreed that depending on the type of sign there will be differences. However, as Dan Milgate (Fit4Life) explained, “make the important information big and keep the sign simple.” The group agreed that, generally, you only have a few seconds for a prospect to have your sign catch their eye and for them to engage in it and decide if they want to respond. Therefore, make it clear, simple and readable (Kathy Patterson – Brendale Stationery Supplies).

The group agreed that the most important information for your sign is your logo, business name, contact information (ie phone number and web address) and a bit of information about the business. As Andrew Gallagher (Lollyworld) shared “only your mum and you care about your business name. unless your business name actually tells you what you do (eg, Core Computers, Brisbane Hosting and Website Design) then your business name is not the focus – what you do is what people need to know.” Using this as a guide, business owners can think about then what should stand out more on a sign – the business name or what the business does.

As Kirsty Newberry (Caring Cottage) correctly added, “your signage needs to reflect your image.” Your signage will tell the market what to expect from your business. If the signage is crude or offensive, people will assume that is the type of people they will deal with in your business and make decisions about buying from you accordingly.

Branding and image led the group into a discussion about using humor and sex in signage. It was raised that for some, being funny, provocative and/or controversial can be successful for some businesses if done the right way. Brad Davies (Conquest Pest & Termite Control) shared that on his trucks is the catch phrase “at least I get to kill the pests.” Given the nature of his business, clients have engaged in the slogan and found it quite uplifting and appropriate.

However, caution needs to be taken with using humor, sex and/or controversy as they can very easily offend and create a negative image for a business. As Leonard Whittaker (Action Cycle Learning) pointed out, “sex might sell but doesn’t build relationships.” It was agreed that the rule of thumb is to keep signage “G” rated and appropriate to your business and image.

Finally, Craig Chalmers (Royalty Home Services) added, “make sure you know the regulations and rules about what you can and can’t do in relation to the type of signage you want to use and where you wish to use it. Also check if there are any costs involved.”

Share with us your suggestions and strategies for effective signage for a business by going to www.facebook.com/balanix and commenting in the post of this article.

Albany Creek Business Contacts consists of local quality and reliable businesses who provide a wide range of services from home and residential services to B2B and commercial services. Our service areas cover primarily Albany Creek, Eatons Hill, Brendale, Aspley, Warner, Chermside, Strathpine, North Lakes. However many members will cover greater areas.

Albany Creek Business Contacts meet fortnightly on a Wednesday morning for a 7am breakfast and networking meeting.

Balanix Solutions – Accountant, Business Advisor, Bookkeeping.

Situated in Strathpine on Brisbane North, we partner with our clients to assist them in their accounting, business management and bookkeeping needs. Our clients vary in industries from professional services (such as law, vet and dentist) to the trades (mechanic, bricklaying, plasterer etc), hospitality and retail. Are clients are located in the Pine Rivers area (including Brendale, Lawnton, Albany Creek and Eatons Hill) through to Kallangur, Petrie, North Lakes and Caboolture, as well as Brisbane South, the Gold Coast and various other parts of Queensland.

Call us today … we can help (07 3264 4783)

Is Personal Personal and Business Business

Personal verses Business on Social MediaOnce upon a time there was a wonderful business owner who received a negative review on their business Facebook page. This business owner has a wonderful popular business, is well liked by customers and the broader community and has a great reputation. Like all businesses, sometimes things happen and on this occasion the customer took to facebook to express their view. Said business owner, quite gutted by the review responded politely, courteously and professionally offering options to the reviewer to endeavour to turn their experience and view into a positive. (So far doing all the right things we business owners are advised to do in these situations).

But alas, the business owners’ loving and loyal friends and followers decided this was not enough but rather they wished to weigh in on the situation in support of said business owner. (OK – this is lovely). The first few comments were most professional, sympathetic to both sides and imploring the reviewer to discuss the options offered and realise this was not the usual experience with this business. Alas, from there, things took what can only be described as a downward spiral in comments – sentiment, tone, language, pictures – you name it.

Yes – this is not a fairy tale – this really happened to a friend of mine. Although there are a number of issues that can be written about from this scenario (which may happen at a later date), what stood out for me was the number of business owners who wrote (downward spiralling) comments via their personal account.

This started me thinking about the relationship between business owners’ personal social media pages and their business pages. I asked the savvy business owners in the Albany Creek Business Contacts Group to share with me their thoughts on, when it comes to social media, is personal personal and business business?

In a nutshell – NO! Discussion revealed that, like all other awareness we have in relation to brand/profile of our business, social media is included. Put beautifully by Sandy Gilliman (Streten Mason Lawyers), “ïf you are in business and professional, then you are ‘public front’ both on business and personal pages – nothing is private”. In other words, if in business you always need to conduct yourself in a professional manner projecting the image you want for your business. Andrew Gallagher (Lollyworld) added “be prepared for any implications of posts both personal and business if you are going to be on social media”.

As Damien Jenkins (Australian Unity, North Lakes) put it, “a business owner is never professionally off duty”.

This has become even more important since the introduction of “Groups” on facebook, Linkedin and other social media platforms. You can, usually, only join a group via your personal account, so all interaction in that “Group” is done as you personally. As a business owner, most of the groups I am connected with are business groups so my conduct “personally” is out there in these forums.

I think Jason Matthey (Insurance Web, Brendale) was inspiring with his final comment, “when I am posting on social media, whether personally or representing my business, I think – I’m writing to the local newspaper and I want it on the front page – so I measure my posts against whether I think this is something I want appearing on the front page of the paper.”

Albany Creek Business Contacts consists of local quality and reliable businesses who provide a wide range of services from home and residential services to B2B and commercial services. Our service areas cover primarily Albany Creek, Eatons Hill, Brendale, Aspley, Warner, Chermside, Strathpine, North Lakes. However many members will cover greater areas.

Albany Creek Business Contacts meet fortnightly on a Wednesday morning for a 7am breakfast and networking meeting.

Balanix Solutions – Accountant, Business Advisor, Bookkeeping.

Situated in Strathpine on Brisbane North, we partner with our clients to assist them in their accounting, business management and bookkeeping needs. Our clients vary in industries from professional services (such as law, vet and dentist) to the trades (mechanic, bricklaying, plasterer etc), hospitality and retail. Are clients are located in the Pine Rivers area (including Brendale, Lawnton, Albany Creek and Eatons Hill) through to Kallangur, Petrie, North Lakes and Caboolture, as well as Brisbane South, the Gold Coast and various other parts of Queensland.

Call us today … we can help (07 3264 4783)