Stand Out from the Crowd and Get Your Business Noticed

Whatever niche your business is in, it’s almost an absolute guarantee that there are at least a dozen other businesses within the same sector.

Competition is a natural part of running any business.

If you can’t find a way to stand out, then those competitors are going to acquire the consumers that otherwise would have been your customers.

Here are six methods to help your business stand out like a diamond in the rough.

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How to reactivate your churned customers

Customers come and go, that is the nature of any business. However, that doesn’t mean you have to accept that all those that have left are gone forever.

By implementing a series of key customer strategies, you can reduce the number leaving and reactivate more of those that have already left.

In this post I will show you how to protect churning customers, and reactivate more of those that have churned.

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A quick anecdote about Deliveroo’s wasted marketing budget

In marketing, if you get your targeting right, your communications/media plan should fall in to place beautifully.

Here is a personal anecdote that suggests deliveroo aren’t quite getting that quite right.

Right message, right person…wrong time

I love the idea of deliveroo; real restaurant food delivered to your door. The only problem is they don’t deliver to where I live, at least not until recently (or so I thought).

A deliveroo leaflet had been pushed through my letter box telling me they were now delivering to where I lived. That was that night’s meal sorted straight away!

The problem was when I went on to their website to start my order I was informed they didn’t deliver to my postcode. Gutted!

But I was also confused why they had posted their leaflet when they knew I couldn’t use them.

I assumed they’d messed up that particular leaflet drop. However, a couple of weeks later I got another leaflet as part of their follow up campaign.

I checked again. Still can’t use them.

I appreciate one leaflet isn’t going to break their budget, but how many other households around the country are getting this marketing they can’t act on?

Leaflet drops are targeted at the street level, so there is no reason why this should happen except for poor planning by their marketing team or poor execution by the agency they hired to fulfill the job.

Deliveroo’s poor targeting and execution all adds up to:

  • Wasted budget
  • Wasted opportunity
  • Wasted brand equity

Creating a targeted media plan

Whether you are advertising on a national or local level, they key component of your media plan has to be your target audience.

Where do they live, how old are they, what are their interests, what offers do they respond to, what media do they consume…etc?

Each one of these questions builds a profile of your target audience that enables you to deliver the right message, to the right person, at the right time.

How to rebrand your small business

A strong, recognisable brand is vital for any business, no matter how big or small. Strong brands stand out in the market, attract more customers, and keep more of those they already have.

However, times change and with it so do customers, trends and technology. What was once a strong brand identity 10 years ago, doesn’t necessarily translate in to one now.

Change for the sake of change is never a good idea, so how do you know when it is time for a rebrand?

 

Good reasons for a rebrand include:

  • Growth is too small, flat or even negative
  • Your customer base is changing – or you want it to change
  • Your business linked to something you don’t want to be e.g. bad customer service
  • Your company – logo, service, pricing – simply feels out of date

Just changing your name isn’t a rebrand. Rebranding is about changing the way your business operates, and how it addresses your customers.

Without that depth of change, customers will see through the superficiality of the process and you will see no positive return or uplift.

In fact, you will probably end up losing the brand equity you currently have.

You must be able to deliver on any brand promise.

Have a clear mission

Make sure you know what are you looking to achieve as part of the rebrand, and then do everything you can to ensure your stakeholders understand it as well.

Are you rebranding to stay in touch with your evolving target audience, are you facing increased competition and you want to stand out in a crowded market place, have you started to look old-fashioned in an industry where image matters, are you consolidating multiple sub-brands into a simpler structure..?

Create a mission statement supported by SMART objectives to gauge success, and keep everyone focused on what you want to achieve. For example:

Mission: To always put our customers first.

Objective one: “Reduce telephone support response times to 30 seconds, within 3 months of the brand re-launch”

Objective two: “Upgrade our customer support database content and navigation reducing our phone support calls by 30%”

Research and customer insight

You can’t know where you need to go, without understanding where you are and what the road ahead looks like.

The first step is to gather feedback from your customers and employees about what they think about you, what they like and what they dislike.

Look at key areas such as customer support, product quality, pricing, positioning, and your competition (direct and indirect).

By combining both qualitative (e.g. focus group, interview…) and quantitative (e.g. survey) methodologies you will build a picture of your current strengths and weaknesses, as well as opportunities to move your brand towards.

Define your marketplace

As well as looking internally, you should map what your marketplace looks like. This includes both the market’s customer segments, and where you and your competitors fit on a perception map (with each axis representing two key factors that matter to your customers).

With this data you can identify the segments you want to appeal to, as well as how successfully you are currently doing this.

Research what matters to these customers? Is it value for money, reliability, security, personal service…? You can these align your new brand around these principles.

Unless you work in an industry that is already extensively covered by industry reports (Mintel is a good source of those), this is very difficult to do yourself.

For something this important, I would strongly recommend using a professional market research company.

They will be able to:

  • Segment the market
  • Give a value to each of the segments – Which segments to target
  • Identify the characteristics of the segments – How to position brand

Support the change with a story

People are traditionally averse to change and customers often equate a steady brand with reliability.

The best and most successful rebranding projects are usually wrapped in a positive story for customers and staff to get behind.

A fresh new look isn’t a story to lead with. The story should be one that benefits your customers, and runs deeper than a new graphic.

Here are some examples I have created to illustrate my point:

  • Responding to customer feedback to improve your customer service = “You spoke, we listened, we changed”
  • Upgrading your technology/platform = “Become a faster, more agile business”
  • A new control panel = “Everything you need to manage your business online”
  • Repositioning your business to a younger audience = “Now with added awesome”

Testing and feedback

I would strongly recommend using a professional designer to update your brand’s look and feel. Marketplaces such as 99Designs will connect you with professional designers who can create collateral, including a new logo, for as little as £189.

Test your new brand proposal and the basic design aesthetics before you commit to a new brand. Get feedback from a focus group that represents your target audience.

Do they express what your brand stands for accurately unprompted?

Don’t be afraid to take a step back and make changes based on this information. These are your customers after all, and the purpose of this rebrand is to attract more of them

How to communicate the change

Your most important asset are your customers. You must be clear why these changes are happening, and why it benefits them.

Give them the chance to ask you questions and get involved.

There are three general approaches to rebranding your business.

  1. Launch your new brand in parallel with the old
  2. Do it in stages
  3. The big reveal

There are pro’s and con’s to doing any of these:

Launch your new brand in parallel with the old

Orange and T-Mobile’s launch of EE (Have a look here)

Pro’s

  • Lower risk of disrupting your existing customer relationships

Con’s

  • More expensive to support two brands
  • Run the risk of competing with yourself
  • Can confuse the marketplace

Do it in stages

Norwich Union’s evolution into Aviva (Have a read of this)

Pros

  • Less risk of anything going wrong
  • Customers see an evolution over time

Cons

  • Increased cost to support each iteration of the brand
  • Loses PR impact potential

The big reveal

Pro’s

  • Create excitement within the market = huge PR opportunities

Con’s

  • A higher chance for something to go wrong
  • Can confuse your customers is it is too abrupt
  • Requires communication spend to make sure everyone knows your new brand
  • Ideally needs a strong story to back up the change

Whichever approach you decide to take, a good rebrand will tick four boxes.

  1. The new brand message is clear and easy to understand
  2. You differentiate yourself from the competition
  3. The process respects the emotional attachment your employees and customers have to your existing brand
  4. You deliver on your new brand promises

How do you deal with “generation free”?

Thanks to the likes of Google and open source providers such as WordPress, we are increasingly becoming trained to expect a lot for very little, or even for nothing at all.

The freemium model has been around for years, but there has been a dramatic shift towards this becoming the expected norm. Online services and apps have to increasingly deal with customers’ expectation they will get something for nothing as part of their product and pricing strategy.

As a small business or a start-up, how do you deal with this kind of competition, and more importantly, consumers’ expectation they should get services for free?

With major companies such as Evernote seeing only 2% of free accounts becoming sources of revenue, how do you put a strategy in place to get customers paying?

Business/ power users fund the consumers

SaaS providers such as Dropbox, MailChimp (screenshot below) and Wunderlist don’t offer personal/home users cut down, limited versions of their products for free, they offer business/power users enhanced versions of their products for a fee. MailChimpThere is a subtle difference here from what most companies do. By giving personal users a complete product they make their product synonymous with people’s daily lives.

This essentially turns them into a platform, one that so many people use that they become a natural tool for a business.

Microsoft used this strategy to dominate the PC OS market in the 90’s – get it on to as many computers as possible!

Limited time freemium

You can play to customers’ expectations they should get to use your product for free by having a free trial as the default (or even only) choice.

You can see this in action with Netflix (30 days) and Shopify (14 days), with Netflix not even giving you the option to part with your cash.

Compare Shopify a year or so ago to now…

ThenShopify old price table

NowShopify current price tableFrom a subtle nudge, to the centre of their pricing strategy, their free trial has become the primary driver.

I would surmise this is in response to the rise in free ecommerce platforms such as Magento and WordPress ecommerce plug-ins (like WooCommerce).

There is a handful of useful reads about converting trial users in to paying customers:

Bolt ons, upgrades and in-app purchases

Mobile games are a classic example of this strategy in play. How many games in the app stores can you think of that are free to download, but the only way you can progress at a reasonable rate is to buy add-ons/power ups?clash of clans

The danger here is you make the basic free product so limited that no can get anything done with it.

The most successful games on iOS and Android take a patient approach, letting you get deep enough in to the game that it is starting to form a habit before limiting the experience until you pay.

The worst games dive straight in demanding cash to do the simplest tasks before I’ve really got in to the game. These games are instantly deleted from the phone!

Because your product is free, there is absolutely no financial or emotional relationship between you and the user to start with. They don’t have that sensation to “get their money’s worth out of you”.

This means you have to work hard to get them to use your product, and not become another forgotten log-in password. Give them enough of a taste to form a habit and desire more.

Get value without the revenue

The best example of what I mean here is Dropbox. When you first sign up you don’t get a great deal to start with. The real meat comes from all the extra actions you can do to earn more.Dropbox referral bonusEvery free account user who has tweeted, shared, or referred their friends for the service can be built in to your customer acquisition costs, making the shares, invites, and tweets from “free” users actually correlate to real marketing pounds.

Do it for a reason, not just because everyone else does it

Free account customers are notoriously difficult to move along the funnel, so it is vital you have a strategy behind your freemium plan. An important question to ask yourself is “Are my customers attracted to ‘free’?”

What would you say if I offered you a fridge for free? Chances are you’d get a little suspicious and assume there was something wrong with it. Some products are so important or complex that customers prefer to pay for them, associating price with quality.

Teach yourself marketing a SaaS product

Marketing a SaaS product can be a minefield, especially when it comes to pricing, features, support and customer acquisition budgets.

Judging the right mix of how much to charge, what each package will allow a customer to do, and how much you can afford to spend acquiring a new sign up can make or break a SaaS product/company.

Here are the resources you need to read if you are planning on launching a new SaaS product, or you are already involved in marketing one.

Sixteen Ventures

Sixteenventures.com is has some of the best blogs I have ever read, providing “Marketing, Customer Acquisition, & Churn Reduction Consulting for SaaS providers” It is an essential read if you are interested in marketing. Recent articles to get started with include:

Help Scout

Online help desk software provider ‘Help Scout’ has a fantastic blog, often aimed at customer support issues, but also with great ideas on running a SaaS company. Here are some stand out articles:

GrooveHQ

GrooveHQ are another online help desk solution, but their blog is a little different. They tie up their posts in to a narrative, as we follow them on their journey to $500k per month revenue. The blog is very open about their successes and mistakes. As well as a great source of information for your SaaS product, it is also a great case study in content marketing.

Price Intelligently

Price Intelligently are a company that specialises in helping businesses create their pricing strategy. Their pricing blog is full of great advice to help guide your SaaS price.

Kissmetrics

As a very successful SaaS provider themselves, Kissmetrics are well positioned to guide you through the trials and pit falls of marketing a SaaS product. Always insightful and easy to read.

Chaotic Flow by Joel York

Chaotic flow is a SaaS marketing specilaist blog with of the objective of sharing “…knowledge and opinions that will help executives at Internet software companies that create and deliver SaaS and cloud applications critically analyze real-world, go-to-market strategies and tactics by applying sound business principles.” It isn’t updated very much anymore, but there is a huge library of really useful posts from the past couple of years.

Some general tidbits

ConversionXL have a useful post linking to 9 case studies that ‘ll help you reduce SaaS churn today.

SaaSopdia is a useful mini-library of SaaS terms and SaaS terminology.

Customer loyalty’ by Jill Griffen – Increasing repeat purchases by creating and growing loyal customers

Quite a big read, but very comprehensive, The ultimate lifecycle email marketing guide from Vero is a great jump board for developing your life cycle strategy.