Let’s begin with something you’ve done before to set the stage. You walk into the store to look around. Until a store clerk comes and speaks to you. The store clerk asks if you need any help, but you explain that you’re just looking. You don’t plan on purchasing anything. Again, your goal is to peruse the store and look at the prices.
As a business, it’s no different than a B2B (aka, business to business) consumer. Everybody wants to look at the prices to see whether or not they’re getting a good deal. As my mom would always say, “you get what you pay for.”
We all want a bargain, and no one wants to overpay. This is why our services do show the pricepoint on the website.
In this case, as a small business owner being shopped by other businesses, you’re being asked the questions. Sometimes, the consumer isn’t forthright in telling you that you’re being shopped. This can be one of the biggest frustrations and time-burglars. We all have different experiences, so we approach it with our own interests in mind.
Without knowing all the details, an engaging conversation and interaction are promising. The consumer is excited. You’re excited. We’re all excited, but the expectations of the buyer and seller are different. When the seller realizes the potential buyer is not ready to move forward there’s a feeling of disappointment.
If you’re a new business owner or just starting, keep your head up. Rejection is baked into the recipe for success.
Know When You’re Being Shopped
When you and or your organization is being shopped, it’s not the best feeling. However, it’s not abnormal. Like any good steward of their finances, this is a wise move. I suggest everyone to do their research before they make a purchase. Don’t leap before you look.
Being shopped is inevitable. This is where you need to learn to either implement the push or the pull strategy for your marketing. This isn’t a tug-of-war competition. The push and pull strategy is how you intentionally promote yourself by using operational efficiencies. Creating a marketing campaign is the best way to develop a marketing strategy to help declare how you choose to push/pull your products and services. Therefore, helping you and/or other key leaders determine what’s best for the business.
The PUSH STRATEGY is all about putting the product in front of the consumer. The PULL STRATEGY is to allure the consumer and bring them in.
For example, the supermarket’s goal is a push strategy. Put everything out there and sell. The shopper doesn’t have to do anything to figure it out. Grab and go. Some items are on the shopping list. Other items will be bought out of impulse.
The Impulse Seller
A huge mistake for new small business owners is to throw everything at their prospective consumers including the kitchen sink, and wonder why their products or services aren’t selling. The same issue can be seen for salespeople that don’t know how to sell. Both sellers believe their product is a must-have item. Unfortunately, this is what I call the Impulse Seller.
The best way to explain the Impulse Seller is to describe their first 10 seconds. They’re basically asking for your method of payment while you (the shopper) are inquiring about the details. Within 30 seconds, the Impulse Seller has determined you’re buying the product/service without asking you if you’re interested. Their approach has elements, such as:
- Looking at you as if he or she is staring right through you
- Making statements of “You definitely want this because …”
- In your personal space without asking for permission
- Joking with you as you’re long lost friends
- Using your WHY to guilt you into buying it
- Hurrying you to make the purchasing decision
The prospective buyer walks away feeling icky because the seller made it transactional rather than relational. This is a typical mistake with an eager salesperson or one who doesn’t care about the buyer having “buyer’s remorse.” It’s all about the money.
Businesses Being Shopped
Every business owner, entrepreneur or operator worth their salt knows their business will get shopped. This is all part of running the business. If you and your business are being shopped, think of it as a compliment. You’re a contender. People are asking questions and learning because you’re being considered.
While your business is being considered, don’t oversell. Build a relationship. The transaction will come if it’s a good fit for both parties. Since we live in a world full of options, develop a business strategy to make you and your company the best option for the job, project, donation, or sale.
Once you become that option, close the deal and over-deliver with your greatness- because bills don’t pay themselves.
Monetize Your Brand
For the last couple of years, I’ve been helping companies with their marketing strategies. I didn’t realize they weren’t doing one of the most essential things within their wheelhouse. And I get it.
In the world of entrepreneurship, a lot of the hoopla is about the hustle and the grind. Unfortunately, that’s short-term thinking. I’m guilty of it too. You see, the term brand gets thrown around with the wrong definition. A company’s brand is all about the customer’s point of view, not the founder(s).
That’s called vision.
When I was driving for Uber, I didn’t think that much of how cash flow would impact my long-term success. It was more like a game or going fishing- and it was fun when the app wouldn’t stop going off—the day in the life of Uber:
- Turn on your app
- Wait for a rider
- Buzzing and flashing on your mobile Uber app
- Head to pick up your rider
- Give them the ride while you charm them for a high rating because they weren’t doing tips when I was driving
- Say goodbye (and check trip fare amount)
- Start the whole process all over again.
I was happy when my phone flashed, and I had a rider. Each ride put money in my business bank account to pay for both business and personal bills. To keep it real, Uber gamified the application, so it became addicting, but it didn’t matter to me at the time. Money was coming in, and I needed it.
Did Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp envision all of it?
But not all of it in on day one. It came over time.
Entrepreneur’s Brand Value
We all love to pay the bills, but I wasn’t thinking about my future bills as I built my business as an entrepreneur. I was grinding and hustling. It felt good. However, I didn’t have the right mindset. My brand suffered during this time, but not for long.
My Uber’ing career was all about Uber. It wasn’t about NW & Associates or my nonprofit (Dream Big Community Center) at the time. Even though I told a lot of riders my Uber’ing wasn’t full-time as I passed out business cards, I was sending the wrong message in hindsight.
Because at the end day, I was going to be remembered as their Uber driver. I needed them to know I was a marketing consultant and business owner.
In today’s digital world, we all have a digital footprint we leave on social media, websites, e-commerce, and even on our smart devices. Unfortunately, I wasn’t leaving a positive digital brand because my brand value wasn’t created. Every moment I spent under Uber was improving their brand, and not mine.
I had to make a change.
Supply and Demand
Every business should solve a problem by creating solutions in the marketplace. For a company, that’s an excellent ‘pat on the back’ for the brand’s equity to be known as the problem solver. You are the consumer’s go-to for that product or service.
The positive experience places that specific brand as the benchmark on a customer’s subconscious level. It becomes the #1 top-of-the-mind business because it solves their problem. It’s simple supply and demand. The prospective customer has a need (a want), and the company provides the supply (product/service). Each time the consumer engages with the company, it either increases or decreases the brand value. Over time, companies have done more to enhance customer service and shopping experiences to ensure the prospect’s illusion of the brand stays positive.
A great example would be Apple and its retail stores. Apple retail stores are modern with clean and modern open spaces with their latest technology devices enclosed in glass windows. Once you walk in the store, you’re greeted and encouraged to browse their products with hands-on experiences before your name is called out loud by the front-door ambassadors. After your name is called, you have a personal shopping assistant to assist you with every decision or question. When you walk out of the Apple store, you will either have a good or bad experience.
Ever since I’ve been an Apple customer, I’ve never had a bad experience. They’ve always solved my problem. For me, the Apple retail stores are fantastic, which is funny because I swore by Samsung Galaxy and Toshiba laptops. After my Samsung tablet died on me, I crossed over.
When the transition took place, I quickly crossover everything. I have an iPhone (purchased in later 2015), iPad (bought in early 2015), and a MacBook Pro (my second purchased MacBook in early 2017). So far, their brand value has only increased over the years. My loyalty to Apple is called brand resonance in the CBBE (aka, Customer Brand Based Equity), which means I won’t leave unless they mess up in the worst way possible. I’m proud to tell people I’m an Apple user. However, I’ve never left a review, but I don’t look for reviews either. Their customer reviews are the ‘bread and butter’ for the business for other brands.
Customer reviews are critically important to online shoppers. People want to know the legitimacy of the product or service. Amazon would be a great example, but let’s go with a more prominent personal purchase. The best scenario is buying a home.
For example, when I look at houses on Zillow’s mobile application, it allows me to heart it (which means I can save it), but only if I’m logged in. Sometimes I get caught up on how a specific house staging of furniture and decor could be my setup and lifestyle. Then I look at the location, taxes, or HOA fees, bringing me back to reality. But my reality is still within the consumer mindset. The consumer mindset is about learning, not about spending money or catching up in the materialistic world. In other words, research is a quintessential element for every customer before most purchases are made.
Zillow provided me with an insight I never knew, and they became my unconscious housing expert. Instead of customer reviews, they give me and others a positive customer experience. As a brand, they got me hooked.
On the flip side, as a producer, as a newer and start-up business–I’ll speak for myself since I won’t point the finger at anyone–I’ve failed to understand how to reach my target audience early in my company’s infancy via their digital footprint. Zillow does a phenomenal job making anyone believe they can be a homeowner.
Personal Perspective as an Entrepreneur
I’ve found many of us don’t click on the company’s ‘About Us’ section or read any of the legality information. I included myself in that statement too. I’m guilty also. That is why my goal is to educate my clients, where we must both grow and learn together. As we evolve, the brand needs to change too. This is when your brand equity increases because we like to know, like, and trust the companies we buy from, which is truer for local businesses, hence, why all companies evolve their brand to accommodate the customer journey.
To evolve as a critical decision-maker in a business, one of the first things you have to do if you want to capitalize on your brand’s monetization is unlearning your consumer mindset. Focus on the ‘work smarter, not harder‘ of building the customer experience.
Make it about the customer, not you. Do not make the shopping experience about your ego. You are not your customer.
Your brand logo should bring joy to your clients of trustworthy customer service and high quality. You don’t have a brand just yet for new entrepreneurs starting their side hustle because you don’t have any clients. But once you make that first sale, welcome to the family. If you have already begun a business and selling items, you have a brand.
However, the journey doesn’t stop there. Have you asked them for a review or feedback? Here is where the journey of personal growth begins.
People love to criticize.
It is super hard to hear negative comments about something you created, but it’s all part of the journey. When you are a small business or entrepreneur producing a product or a service, your number one concern should be taking care of the people purchasing your product/service. If they have already made the purchase, you should retain them as best as possible. However, not everyone will like it. You’re going to hear negative feedback, which is fine. There will be horrible feedback.
Keep in mind your product/service isn’t for everyone, so you need to protect your brand by doing your best to provide a quality experience. Also, this is why it’s essential to know your market and demographic. You’ll have some constructive criticism from people who want it, but there will always be tweaks that need to be made. These are the people you want to hear from regularly, which means it’s time for you to tell the selected masses about you, your company, and what you’re selling- which means your brand is ready to grow.
Promote Your Brand
It’s time to apply your marketing strategy to convert prospects into customers. More than likely, you work harder for your brand, then your brand works harder for you. You want your brand to work harder for you and create an opportunity for passive income. One of the best ways to monetize your brand is to build your funnel of what your consumer needs. It also needs to make the best sense for you and your business. Your funnel is the process of meeting a new person, which then turns into a prospect, then turns into a lead, and then turns into a customer if you’re successful in converting them into a customer.
Hence, the monetization of your brand. Be the solution.
So, have you monetized your brand and digital footprint?
Nathan A. Webster, MBA