I meet with small business owners every day and I talk to them about what their needs are, how much they want to grow, what has been working and what hasn’t and many more things that are pertinent to developing marketing strategies that work.
Marketing is a grey area, but we all know that we need to do it particularly if we are looking to grow.
With a highly competitive market place, and a volatile economy, more pressure is placed on marketing and the outcomes it achieves in a business.
Yesterday I met with a small business owner who in theory has all the right tools to become successful EXCEPT for the fact that they are making the decisions. It’s an IT business that in theory can provide quality services to every business up to $20 million turnover, ensuring that small businesses have a reliable IT infrastructure and network that has minimal if not no, downtime.
Fundamentally, I trust that they can do the job that they perform very well.
Unfortunately, my impression of the business and its brand didn’t live up to my initial expectations. The owner and ‘face’ of the business was negative, uninspiring and close-minded. He knew he needed marketing, but thinks that if he micro-managed it, he might make the whole thing a little cheaper.
Now I looked at what he had done before and it was terrible. Seriously bad! It looked like everything was printed on an 80’s home printer, the brand was all over the shop and he had useless papers of information that no-one in their right mind would waste their time reading.
On top of that, I doubt that if you met him, you would want him looking after your IT systems. He had this whole negative thing going on and first perceptions are everything!
The problem with interviewing service providers is that whilst you may think everything is about you – the reality is it is not. Whatever image you present to the service provider will be their brand experience with your company. They, like me, might have a blog that they write about the experience on or perhaps they tell everyone in their office and their friends that evening about how uninspiring you are and how bad their meeting went. Perhaps, if you thought a bit more about it, they could be your client.
Giving anyone, whether its the postman or the printer a bad brand experience, is not good for your business.
Like my business, every single person could be a client now or in the future.
Tips to ensure your brand is intact when you leave a meeting with a potential supplier:
- Smile – show them how happy you are to be representing the company
- Learn to tell the story of how your company was started and why it is so unique in the market. Ensure it is easy to understand and that you communicate it with pride
- Listen to what they have to say, but don’t give anything away
- Ask questions that help you find out more about the company you are interviewing
- Never give away things like “you can’t afford to use their services” when you know before they come how much they cost
- Never waste someone else’s time. If it frustrates the hell out of you when you attend a meeting that has no purpose, then think about the time it takes for someone else to visit your office to talk about what they do
- Make sure you have thought ahead of time what the purpose of the meeting is and what you hope to get out of it
- Objections are for amateurs – questions are for experienced people wanting to get ahead
- Leave the supplier with a positive memorable experience – even if you don’t use them, they may use you or refer people to you
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