Welcome to Digital Homesteading.
This collection of resources from 9 Clouds helps you build your business and community.
Customer service is not what makes your business succeed. In fact, it may be a crutch.
So says David Baker of ReCourses. This week I had the chance to hear Mr. Baker speak at Inbound, a massive conference gathering marketers and businesses owners from around the globe who are unified by their belief in inbound marketing.
Baker has spent the past two decades researching marketing agencies and has found positioning as key to a business’ success.
Positioning is how you present your businesses and its products or services. It is a simple concept that is difficult to implement.
At its core, positioning should answer the question of how your business is different than others in the marketplace. A clear position means potential customers will quickly know if you are a good fit for them.
If your business is prepared to do (almost) anything for a potential customer, your positioning is unclear. If people don’t know what you do, and thus don’t know what you’re best at, they are less likely to work with you.
Three Ways Positioning Helps Your Business
Clear positioning helps your business in three key ways.
1. Clear positioning makes your business an expert.
Expertise is essential in the digital age because it is easy for customers to find a replacement. As Baker explained, many service businesses have little control over their relationship with a client. The client can demand almost anything from the business and threaten to leave if they don’t get it.
As a business, the only control we have is to withhold expertise. If we know something or are able to do something that our client and competitors do not know or cannot do, we have power. This is expertise.
Irreplaceable expertise is the best way to retain business and attract new clients. As an example, countless businesses provide graphic design services; few businesses offers infographics like our friends at Lemonly. They identified a very specific subsection of design and are experts at making infographics that generate business. It’s easy to replace a graphic design firm. It’s more difficult to replace an infographic design firm that are the best at what they do.
2. Positioning Increases Your Income
If your business has specific expertise, you can charge more. If you can be easily replaced, you have to compete on price (or customer service, more below). When you stand out in the marketplace, customers pay a premium for your expertise. Higher profitability also means you can justify additional training and research to grow your expertise. A virtuous cycle is thus created with clear positioning that leads to increased expertise and increased revenue that supports increased expertise and so on.
3. Positioning Decreases Leads and Increases Conversion
If your business is a jack of all trades and master of none, anyone who walks in the door (or virtual door of your website), is a potential customer. This means you have to talk to them about what they need, explain why they should work with you and ultimately hope they hire you. This process creates lost work. The more time you spend with people who don’t work with you, the less profitable your business is.
Clear positioning means that customers opt themselves out of working with you. If you provide infographics and they need a logo, they know that they shouldn’t work with you. On the flip side, the leads that do contact your business are better qualified. This means that you need fewer leads to generate business.
Thus, positioning empowers a business to say no. No to clients that are bad fits, no to work that doesn’t fit your expertise and ultimately no to bad work.
Positioning Kills Customer Service
My favorite quote from Baker: “Most agencies cloak lack of positioning with exceptional customer service.”
At first, I was taken aback by this. Of course we should offer amazing customer service. That is maybe what we think our positioning is!
The more I thought about it, however, the more it made sense. If your business has great expertise, you don’t need to constantly check in with the client and give them hours of your time.
An expert is trusted, an expert focuses on their craft. As businesses, we want to provide customer service, but starting with clear positioning will eliminate the need to over-service our customers. We can instead provide our expertise, which will be the reason they continue to work with us and recommend us to others.
Position Now and Continue Repositioning
For many businesses, positioning is an ever-narrowing process. You may start with a big focus and over time figure out what you are best at.
Focus your business now. Over time, you may find that today’s focus is still too broad. If so, continue to narrow.
The clearer your business is, the more successful you will be. We can find anything, anywhere in the world. To be heard in this noisy marketplace, you need a unique voice.