6 Steps to Make Your Small Business Stand Out from the Competition to Attract More Clients [UPDATED]

How do you stand out from the competition? What is your strategy to win new clients? Do you have one? We all know that the best prospects to focus on are the people who are already looking to hire someone like you. But, all too often when I search on the Internet for various professionals – whether I’m searching for a photographer, an electrician or a chiropractor, I see very few businesses (if any) whose message truly stands out. If you managed to land on page one on your prospects’ Google search, you can celebrate getting to first base. But, you still need to get to second base. Before you can win the customer you have to first win the click. The key in winning the click is standing out among the competition. Here are 5 simple steps you can implement today:

1.  How to stand out from the competition?Communicate the outcome that your customers or prospects would like to achieve when working with you or buying from you.

It’s not enough to simply tell people your occupation or industry you’re in. If you want to stand out among the sea of sameness go further and tell people what specific problems you solve. For example, one of the members in my 6 Figure LinkedIn Secrets course is a registered dietician and nutritionist. Understandably, that’s what she wrote on her LinkedIn profile. But, what was much more effective at helping her stand out from the thousands of other nutritionists on the Internet was simply communicating the key problems she solved and who she solves it for. Her tagline now included “weight loss specialist for busy entrepreneurs”. This immediately got the attention from the right people she was looking to reach on LinkedIn. Her specific outcome message distinguished her from thousands of competitors who simply stopped at stating their occupation.

2. Offer a result based guarantee.

Offering a guarantee takes the risk out of doing business with you. At the same time, having a unique guarantee that competitors do not offer is a great way to help you stand out and differentiate. The restaurant chain, Olive Garden, offers the 45-minute pronto lunch guarantee. If your lunch is not served in 45-minutes it’s free. One of my private clients is the leading expert in sports facility construction. In their industry the standard warranties for installing running tracks are one to five years. My client differentiated among his competitors by offering an unprecedented level of protection with their ten and fifteen year warranties. This level of guarantee is truly unheard of in the sports construction industry and is one of the factors that make his business stand out. What are some guarantees you could offer that no one else in your industry would dream of doing?

3. Communicate the difference.

When I work with small business owners to help position them as the go to experts I often hear my clients ask things like, “How do I stand out when we all really do the same thing?” One dentist told me, “Teeth cleaning isn’t rocket science. I’m sure all the other dentists in town are competent at cleaning teeth.” We didn’t focus on the service. Instead, we focused on the experience – specifically, taking the fear out of the experience by making a visit to the dentist fun! He turned one of his storage closets into a small, cozy game room that fit 3 full size arcade games. Kids now loved coming to the dentist since their reward was unlimited free games in the arcade.

4. Leverage your past experience.

One of the members in a mastermind group I lead is an IP attorney. She is also a former competitive cellist. One of the niche markets she serves is the creative community. Musicians, artists and other creatives instantly bond with her because of her past experience as a trained musician herself. Although her market has access to a dozen other IP attorneys she is the clear stand out because of her past experience helps her understand the unique needs of their creative businesses.

5. Make a unique offer.

You want to put yourself in the shoes of your own customers. Imagine them trying to compare and choose between you and five of your competitors. Take a look at what others are offering. (You’ll be surprised some of your competitors aren’t making any offers!) By you making a unique offer you are helping your business stand out among your competition. A memorable unique offer I came across was of a CPA – 100% refund tax guys. Clients receive 100% refund on their tax preparation when they refer 4 new clients to the firm. Once you’ve developed a list of what makes you stand out among the competition you want to articulate that message into short sound bytes that you can use as headlines and sub headlines on your website, print brochures and business cards. For specific tips and tricks to helping you get the click from Google search results, check out this related post on “How to Get More Clicks.”

6. Get Published in a Magazine

Whatever your industry, find a magazine that caters to your businesses niche. For instance, Lawyers have Super Lawyers. Realtors have Super Agents.  These magazines already have a built in audience that you can cater to. Contact them and ask about advertising or having an article written about your business.

QUESTION: How do you communicate your difference when you explain what you do? Share your elevator pitch here:

Does Your Business Have Bad Breath?

The Bad-Breath Syndrome

When it comes to having bad breath no one knows they have it unless someone else tells them. Bad breath can happen in your business. And, it’s hard to know you have it unless someone else tells you.

Bad breathe — bad word of mouth advertising will always destroy any good advertising. This is what I call having the bad breath syndrome in your business. Unfortunately, great marketing will never override bad word of mouth.

No amount of good advertising will convert into more customers if people have poor experiences with your business. You need to separate the two.

It’s important to incorporate improving customer experience as a part of your marketing plan, but first you have to find out where there’s bad breath.

The First Time I Discovered I Had “Bad Breath”

When I was a new business owner, I asked one of my long time customers named Joyce, to give me her feedback on a full-page ad I was running for the performing arts center I owned at the time because I thought I should have been getting more customers from it.

I was taken by surprise at her remark. Joyce told me bluntly, “Yoon, it’s not your ad. It’s your bathrooms.”

What? I asked in disbelief. What are you talking about? How are my bathrooms hurting my sales? I asked in total confusion. I have those bathrooms cleaned every week.

She went on to explain they get used everyday by hundreds of people. When they see dust bunnies on the baseboards and trash cans full the bathrooms are what mothers (who are the customers) talk about.

Not being a mom yet at the time, I remember getting angry inside listening to Joyce’s decision criteria. That’s not what you should care about! I objected, saying things like,

“But, we have world renown faculty, you won’t get at any other school! We have the largest facility. We are the only one stop shop for families. We are the only school who answers the phone every day. We have the best customer service!”

Once my pride finally melted, I realized it didn’t matter if I disagreed with her decision criteria. If sparkling bathrooms would improve their experience with my business, it seemed a no-brainer to just fix the problem.

That day I learned you’ve got to see your business through your customers’ eyes, not your own.

“What you see depends on what you’re looking for.”
-Anonymous

ACTION STEP: Ask your customers / clients what would improve their experience with your business. Then, listen to your customers and fix the problem.

QUESTION: What ways do you use to discover poor customer experiences with your business? Share your tips and comments below.

© Copyright 2016

LinkedIn Marketing Tips – Is Your LinkedIn Photo Costing You Clients?

LinkedIn Marketing Tips

If you want to attract a steady flow of new clients to your business or you’re putting yourself out there for a better career opportunity, you need to be leveraging LinkedIn for business. While it is easy to learn how to attract new clients on LinkedIn, it’s also easy to quickly detract potential clients all from a simple little thing like your photo.

Recently, I was working with one of my clients, who is an Inc 5000 award winner. He had immediate openings to fill quickly for his fast growing company. As we sifted through the piles of resumes he received the President mentions to me that his first measure of short listing candidates to invite to the interview was to check out their Facebook and LinkedIn photos. His criteria in reviewing photos was not to find the most attractive people by model standards, but to learn what many of the photos implied about a person. I wholeheartedly agree.

As the saying goes, “a picture tells a thousand words.”

So, here’s an important LinkedIn marketing tip: if you are on LinkedIn in the hopes of attracting new clients the photo you choose to use as your calling card does have a significant impact. A good head shot can help you garner the same response as Renee Zellwegger’s character in the movie Jerry Maguire with her famous line, “You had me at hello”.

When it comes to profile photos on LinkedIn, I see all too often, people making poor choices for their profile photo. Here are 8 classic photo blunders on LinkedIn and what it communicates to potential prospects. As you read the following try to put yourself in your prospect’s shoes when they are looking to hire someone like you.

LinkedIn Photo Mistake #1: Blurry photo

What it tells us: We wonder about this person’s level of awareness (or in this case a definite lack of awareness). Can you not see your photo is blurry? We want to hire people who insist on attention to detail. So, what’s the LinkedIn marketing tip here? Make sure your photo is clear.

LinkedIn Photo Mistake #2: No Photo

What it tells us: This is a mystery person which makes it difficult to connect with, so we’re likely to simply move on. We can’t establish the know-like-trust factor with a faceless profile. People do not do business with companies. People do business with people. In fact, often the first reason why others decline the connection requests is when they receive one with no photo. So, what’s the LinkedIn marketing tip here? Don’t be shy. Upload a photo of yourself.

LinkedIn Photo Mistake #3: Caricature Placeholder Photo

What it tells us: We wonder what you are trying to hide if you choose to be anonymous by putting a cartoon photo instead of a photo of yourself. You wouldn’t show up to a client with a paper bag over your face, so why project the same effect on your LinkedIn page? So, what’s the LinkedIn marketing tip here? You’re not being creative by putting a cartoon image on your account. Use a photo of yourself.

LinkedIn Photo Blunder #4: Bathing Suit Photo

What it tells us: We can only assume this person is flighty, ditzy, way too self absorbed and lacks E.Q. — it’s hard to miss that LinkedIn is a BUSINESS social networking platform. So, what’s the LinkedIn marketing tip here? Have a photo of yourself dressed professionally. LinkedIn is social networking for the business community.

LinkedIn Photo Blunder #5: Photo where you’re not smiling

What it tells us: A person who isn’t smiling appears cold, rigid, unhappy and unfriendly. We naturally gravitate away from these types of personalities. If you are trying to attract new clients the first rule of sales is to establish the know-like-trust factor. Smiling goes a long way to helping your like-factor. So, what’s the LinkedIn marketing tip here? Smile.

LinkedIn Photo Blunder #6: Photo with sunglasses on

What it tells us: This person looks shady! Personality is important. You can emit your personality even from a photo, but that requires we can see your eyes. So, what’s the LinkedIn marketing tip here? Ditch the photo with you in shades – not matter how cool you think you look in them.

LinkedIn Photo Blunder #7: Poorly Cropped Photo

What it tells us: You don’t make the effort to crop out that other person’s shoulder or just to snap another picture even from your smartphone. We want to do business with people who take initiative, go the extra mile for us and aren’t lazy. So, what’s the LinkedIn marketing tip here? Learn how to use your photo cropping tool. You can even crop photos right from your smartphone.

LinkedIn Photo Blunder #8: A Vacation Photo (too casual with too much in the background – more appropriate for Facebook)

What it tells us: We perceive this “vacation-mode” person as being too laid back. When considering a new hire, whether it be employees or hiring your business/company, vacation vibe photos can imply this person might not be reliable, productive or efficient. We all know that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. A good head shot for your LinkedIn profile does not need to be expensive or necessarily done by a professional photographer. It should however, project your personality, confidence, professionalism, trust and warmth. So, what’s the LinkedIn marketing tip here? If your favorite photo of yourself has other things in the background — take another photo in front of a neutral background.

While your photo is the first impression, there is more to leveraging LinkedIn to help you attract a steady flow of new clients. In fact, if LinkedIn is currently not generating at least six figures in new business for you I’d like to invite you take a look at my next 8-week LinkedIn training program here.

QUESTION: What is your #1 burning question about LinkedIn to help you attract more clients? Share your questions in the comment box below.

© Copyright 2016

Double Your Business Coaching Call Jan. 22

Are you ready to make 2015 the breakthrough year in your business?
Double Your Business Coaching Call Jan 22
I’d like to help you take your business to the next level this year.

Be sure to join me next week for a unique open forum style Q & A call on Thursday, January 22nd 10am PST / 1pm EST / 6pm GMT

NO agenda, NO cookie cutter training – just pure coaching to help you with your most pressing business growth challenges.

Get your questions answered. Get feedback. Get guidance, Get support. Get inspired.

Get on the coaching call that can help you achieve breakthrough success in 2015.

Sign up here to receive the dial in info PLUS download my strategic plan template.

© Copyright 2016

Achieve Breakthrough Success in 2015!

Do you want 2015 to be a breakthrough year in your business?
Of course, right? Who doesn’t?

Achieving great success in your business does not have to be complicated. Here are 3 simple tips you can follow to set yourself up to having your best year ever.

#1. Get locked into the right goals.

Many people spend their lives hurriedly climbing up the success ladder, only to realize when they reach the top that the ladder was up against the wrong house. They may have succeeded in reaching the goal they set, but what good is reaching the goal when it turns out to be the wrong goal?

An example of this is a client of mine who is delighted she is now working half the hours she used and earning twice as much while still making an impact in her industry. Prior to working together she spent 6 years learning how to market her coaching so she could get booked solid. Once she achieved this goal she realized she actually hated being booked solid. She felt like she created a job for herself, and that missed the whole point of being an entrepreneur. So, in essence, she spent those 6 years chasing the wrong goal.

Start the New Year getting crystal clear on what those right goals really are for you. Identify what drives you. What is the meaningful purpose behind your goals?

  • What were your motivating factors and influences in starting your business?

You can pretty much bet that achieving breakthrough success in your business this year will require needing to overcome some obstacles along the way. Having that clear purpose will sustain you through those challenges.

  • What is the ultimate outcome result you want to have in your life that you don’t have right now?

Get your mindset super clear on what you really want in the language of outcome result. Take health goals for example. I hardly think there’s a person out there who focuses on the goal to eat 3 servings of broccoli every day. No, what drives them is the outcome result they want – to be thin or to have high energy.

  • What is your ultimate outcome result you want to achieve through your business in 5 or 10 years?
  • And, what version of that (stepping stone / milestone) would you be excited to achieve in the next 12 months?

#2. Implement a marketing plan that leverages your strengths

You might think of your strength as being your core area of expertise whether it’s on the topic of money, law, taxes, sales, health or other topic. When it comes to growing your business you’ve got to first become an expert at marketing what you do.

Your marketing plan should be bringing in continuous flow of leads (interested prospects) into your sales funnel. You want to create that marketing plan around your natural strengths. One, you’ll get better results because you’re good at it. And, two, you’ll get better results because you’ll be more likely to be consistent with it.

If speaking is your natural strength you would do well with teleseminars, webinars, live seminars, podcasts and/or videos as your core marketing plan.

If writing is your strength you would do well with blogging, guest blogging, article writing, social media and/or press releases as your core marketing plan.

I have some clients who are experts in their industry, but feel that neither speaking nor writing is their strength. The solution in this case that has worked great is the two-step approach. This is where I interview them once a week and have my team produce done-for you marketing that’s re-purposed in 8-10 different forms.

Either way, businesses can no longer just rely on referrals alone. It’s much harder for people to refer paying customers to you. A good marketing plan can easily refer a constant flow of interested prospects to you 24/7.

#3. Get good directions.

You’ll arrive at your success destination much quicker and easier when you start out with good directions.

Often times I hear entrepreneurs grumble that they tried LinkedIn or they tried webinars or they tried X, and it didn’t work; therefore they completely write off that the tactic itself doesn’t work. The fact is, the specific marketing tactic didn’t work because the person either didn’t do it right and/or they didn’t get good directions on how to work it properly.

Be careful not to overlook the importance of seeking good direction. Take driving directions for example. At one point my husband and I had all three of our kids playing travel soccer. I was driving every week to a new, unknown, far away destination. I can’t tell you how many times I got lost trying to find remote soccer fields because I was given the wrong directions. Other times newly built roads didn’t show up on my GPS, so instead it had me frustrated going in circles until I searched for locals to give better directions.

I will also admit sometimes I drove off with just basic directions thinking I could figure out the rest once I arrived in the general vicinity. Of course, I found that just one wrong turn could quickly get me lost.

Getting good directions is just as important to helping you arrive at your success destination in your business. You can eventually succeed with no directions, basic directions or the wrong directions, but it usually always costs wasted time, money and energy. Other times the cost is failing to achieve your goal simply from giving up out of sheer frustration.

  • When it comes to growing your business this year are you using the same directions you used last year?

If what you did last year is not what you want to achieve this year, remember, that doing the same thing while expecting different results is the definition of insanity.

If you aren’t sure that you’re following the right direction in your marketing plan I invite you to kick off the New Year with a complimentary 30 min. coaching call. Email your request to me at YoonCannon@ParamountBusinessCoach.com.

QUESTION: What is the #1 roadblock that is getting in the way of having a breakthrough year? Share your comments and get feedback.

© Copyright 2016