This has been a month of epic posts for me. But the subject we’ve been discussing has been so near and dear to my heart that I felt compelled to really give it 200% of my attention.
We’ve touched on working smarter v.s. harder by investing in the proper tools and resources as we build and manage our brands. Last week we talked about how we teach others how to treat our brands by how we treat our brands and the importance of investing time and energy into protecting and managing the reputation we have online.
Well today, we’re taking it one step further. No matter what, the number one investment we can make into our own success, is by investing our brand’s experience.
Every brand is different, so therefore every brand’s experience will be different. But that special secret ingredient that we each have up our sleeve is US. No one can imitate you and what you have to bring to the table.
We, as small business owners, have the ability from day one to move beyond satisfaction to passion. (Remember that one time is gushed about how important passion is to the success of our brands?)
By working smarter and not harder, we make it easier to do more business since we are so organized and streamlined through the use of the proper tools and resources needed to manage and maintain our brand.
By setting higher standards for our brand and managing the reputation we put out for our community, we attract more clients with higher standards who are willing to pay more for the products and services they purchase because the value is greater.
But no matter how big our business gets, or how many clients we bring in, we need to always remember quality over quantity. The quality of our brand should never be compromised by the quantity of business.
INVESTING IN OUR BRAND WEEK #3:
QUALITY OVER QUANTITY
The quantity of our business should never outweigh the quality of our brand.
Just because we are small business owners doesn’t mean there is anything “small” about us. Being a small business has nothing to do with size and all to do with the way in which we conduct our business. It’s seriously a lifestyle choice to always create a personal customized, one of a kind, experience for the people we engage with.
Because we are small, every decision we make is huge! The stakes are so much higher for us small business owners. With one interaction, we have the power to make or break our brands. There is absolutely nothing small about that.
THE SECRET WEAPON
The one thing that no other business will ever have or will ever be able to offer that will be what your legacy will be build on…
When we own a small business, we have the opportunity to create an experience for our clients that makes them feel like they are our most important client. Beyond that, we can customize an experience for that client that makes them feel like an individual, a friend. Someone that actually means something to us on a personal level beyond simply monetary value. It’s this custom experience that curates the consistent loyal following that our brands will be known for.
Often times, we are not the only brand offering our products and services. Chances are, there is probably a few other businesses out there doing the very same thing we do. This is good for us because:
- It let’s us know that there is a demand for the products or services we provide.
- There is a market for our products and services.
- We have an opportunity to stand out and become the leader and authority in our chosen profession.
A lot of entrepreneurs I work with are fighting with this very issue. They are afraid to start their own business because there are so many other out there doing the same thing. But no matter how many other brands may be offering similar products or services, what they don’t have and never will be able to offer is YOU. Your ideas, you creativity, your passion and your ability to create an incredible, unique, one of a kind custom brand experience.
You are your own secret weapon. That secret ingredient, the secret sauce, the magic formula… whatever you want to call it, it’s you. Now the question is, what’s the quality of the “you” factor in your brand?
If we are service providers, we are the products of our brand. The value we provide to our clients comes from us, our experiences, our knowledge, our resources, and our guidance. Or, if we are product developers, the products we create must be so infused with “us” that they can’t ever be offered by anyone else.
Honestly, I feel like branding is a somewhat weak term because it’s definition really changes based upon the individual defining it. You may be thinking that you are creating a particular experience but then later come to find that your clients have been having a very different experience.
Don’t over promise something that you can’t maintain whether you have 1 client or 100 clients. If you think that something might affect the quality and integrity of your brand, then make sure to stand up and let your clients know. Every decision we make will effect the way in which our brand will be perceived.
By putting quality ahead of quantity in our business, we are establishing a brand based on quality, value, and trust. We are letting our clients know that their long term happiness is more important than the short term satisfaction of fast service.
UNDERSTANDING WANTS V.S. NEEDS
How does our brand provide joy in the lives of our clients?
Do you provide a product or service that comes from a place of need? Something critical to the health and well-being of an individual? This could be food, transportation, medicine, etc… something someone can’t live for long without.
Or, do you provide a product or service that comes from a place of want? Something not necessary for survival, but it’s necessary for the soul?
When we talk about buying something we’ll often say “I NEED this”. Do we actually need that new purse, or those incredibly high-never-be-able-to-walk-in heals, or that gorgeous throw pillow that will never get slept on and is purely for decoration, or the awesome death star ice cube maker from Amazon that makes your ice cubes into mini death stars…? (I may or may not actually have that last one…) Probably not.
This past month, I spoke at a local educational business here in Honolulu, and I remember telling a friend that I NEEDED to go and buy a new shirt because I had NOTHING to wear for my talk. Did I really have nothing to wear? No, I have lots of perfectly appropriate attire to choose from. Did I really NEED to go out and spend money on a new shirt for one night? No.
But it wasn’t really about the shirt. It was about what the shirt meant to me, what it provided me with as I prepared for my first ever speaking gig. Buying a new shirt made me feel good. It made me feel like I looked the part, I could now walk the walk and talk the talk and be taken seriously as the business professional I am. Did the shirt actually provide any of that? Absolutely not. But the purchase was good for my soul. It make me feel good. And when we feel good, we do good.
Looking at our own products and services, do people really need what we offer? What is it that they are ACTUALLY buying from us? An item, or an experience? A need, or a want?
Life is all about the experience. Our brands need to create an incredible unique experience that is seen, touched, felt and heard, making that lasting impression that helps provide the clarity in the value we offer. We can give them something that they can’t get anywhere else.
Through our products and services, we are actually providing someone with an opportunity for a treasured experience.
OPPORTUNITY IN OPPOSITION
Turning a terrible experience into a positive opportunity.
If you go to Walmart and you have a bad customer experience, does Walmart really suffer? Not really. You might make a big enough deal out of it that that employee that mistreated you might get talked to by a manager or higher authority, but chances are, Walmart doesn’t really care. Plus, you’ll probably go back to Walmart again. Maybe not for a while, and maybe not to that specific store, but you will most likely find yourself at Walmart again in your future.
That would NEVER happen for a small business. If you went to a small business, or small restaurant, or even did business with an online retailer and your experience was terrible, chances are you will NEVER EVER go back there again. And not only that, you will probably go out of your way to tell everyone you know to never do business with that brand. You’ll even consider writing a bad review on Yelp or Facebook, publicly warning others of the terrible service that may ensue by engaging with that brand. This is this the power of passion.
I feel like we as a society overuse the word love a lot. “I LOVE that TV show”, or “I LOVE that actor”, or “I LOVE coffee”, (Although I seriously do love coffee), so for me, when it comes to a business experience, I prefer to look at it like we are dealing with various extremes of passion.
When someone is passionate about something, they talk about it. A lot. And their excitement and passion is contagious. It sticks to everyone around them.
Same goes for the opposite side of the spectrum. If someone is passionately against something, you know it. From the way the look when you talk about that person/place/or thing. The way they talk about it. The tone of their voice. The language of their body. Everything about them emits their passionate distaste of whatever it is they are talking about.
There will come a time when we are faced with a bad situation. It’s unfortunately inevitable. It’s impossible to please everyone so chances are, we will at some point come into contact with someone who just isn’t happy with us and our service. Sometimes it will be our fault, and other times it will be the clients fault, but no matter what, it’s always our problem. It’s also always our opportunity.
For us small business owners, overcoming an obstacle by creating a positive opportunity is part of the magic that we small business owners have.
If we can take an angry and unimpressed client and address their frustrations in a way they have never experienced before, we have the opportunity to create a life long raving fan and brand ambassador who will be more loyal than many of our other already happy fans.
If the situation at hand is our fault. We need to own it. This can be really really hard. Especially when it might not be entirely our fault. Despite who the culprit might be, by owning our part of the responsibility, we are actually saving face. Yes, the client will still be unhappy, but they will hopefully no longer be on the defensive, more open to resolution, and respect us for our honesty and humility.
Take this conflict and create an opportunity for the client to control the outcome by asking how they might want to resolve this issue? This allows for them to verbally voice to you what in their mind is an acceptable resolution and how they are expecting you to handle the situation.
By allowing the client to claim ownership of the resolution, this removes some of the pressure off us, allowing them to dictate how we will move forward together. It might be painful, and it might be inconvenient at the moment, but in the long run, the reward will be so much more worth it.
Will we do business with that client again, maybe we will and maybe we won’t. Did we learn a valuable lesson in conflict resolution? Definitely. But no matter how much we may personally want to explode, we must always maintain our professional relationships no matter what.
People expect more from us small businesses, and it’s our job to not only meet but exceed those expectations. Our brand’s success depends on it. This is the life we’ve chosen for our selves, not because it’s the easy route, but because it means more. It fulfills something within us that we can’t find anywhere else.
I know I use this quote all the time, but it’s so spot on!
“If it were easy, it would be an insult to your creativity.” – Regina Anaejionu
The quality we provide in our brand is what will make and keep us successful. It’s this quality experience that will make our clients come back again and again. It doesn’t matter if we are just starting out, or years into running our business, the quality of our brand should never be outweighed by the quantity of business.
Now I’d love to hear from you. What do you do to maintain your brand’s quality consistency? How do you continue to provide an exceptional brand experience despite how busy you may be?
How have you handled client conflicts in the past? What did you do to provide a positive resolution? What lesson did you learn? What would you do differently next time?
See you in the comments!