Written by: Melissa R. MacCaull, Director of Marketing, Union Savings Bank
What is the one thing you offer your small business customers that’s better than what they can find from any of your competitors? The truth is, there are probably many things you do differently that give you a competitive edge. Simply being a small business sets you apart from the many larger scale businesses out there. But relying on your customers to discover these things on their own isn’t going to cut it. Gather your small business team together for a brainstorming session and identify which of these 4 points of competitive differentiation you think resonate best with your customers.
Your small business employees.
By definition, small businesses have fewer employees than their competitors. As a result, a small business’s employees are even more integral to its success. Your small business employees probably specialize in more than what’s listed in their job titles. Perhaps your sales team is made up of a digital marketing expert, a customer service specialist and a member of your management team. Together, their experience across multiple fields helps form a well-rounded sales team with a unique approach to engaging and selling to your small business customers.
Working with your small business employees day to day, you have an appreciation for their expertise. Have you given your customers the chance to appreciate them, too? Consider creating a dedicated bio page on your website to highlight your employees’ unique perspectives and skills. Does one of your realtors have a passion for interior design? Or is one of your vet assistants a professional photographer of animal portraits? That could be the factor that brings a new customer to your firm instead of your competitor’s.
A good way to make sure your employees continue to be one of your major points of competitive differentiation is to routinely evaluate your small business benefits. Not only can competitive benefits help you retain great talent, your benefits package can also prove to be an effective recruitment tool. If growing your business is on the horizon or if you simply want to round out your team, consider sprucing up these small business benefits to keep your employees happy and at the top of their game.
Personalized customer experiences.
You and your employees have likely developed a deep understanding of your small business customers, learning how to anticipate their needs and expectations. Have you ever taken a moment to find the patterns in their behaviors? By recognizing what your customers have in common you can begin to develop a handful of personality types to help you better personalize your customer experience.
Even if you don’t have room in your budget for the latest sales analysis software, the deep understanding of your customers that you have cultivated over time can work in your favor. Use the insight you have gleaned from your customer sales along with your customers’ feedback to create an engaging experience, whether you operate a brick and mortar store, sell exclusively online or offer business-to-business services. You may also want to consider establishing a loyalty program if you don’t have one already as you can get a trove of data from it. These types of customer personalization are what will likely have your small business customers choosing you over larger perfunctory competitors.
Real-time social media.
Chances are that many of the businesses that come to mind when you think about successful social media programs have resources like external marketing agencies and creative teams doing the legwork. But even without a social media marketing budget in the quadruple (or even double) digits, you can still offer your small business customers an enchanting experience that stands out from the crowd.
As a small business owner, you have the advantage when it comes to real-time content. Snapping photos and publishing posts while things are happening adds a layer of credibility to your content that can serve as a major point of competitive differentiation. Social media users crave authenticity, so giving them a look inside your world can help bring them one step closer to buying from your small business. Plus it can set you apart as a local subject matter expert.
Commitment to your community.
Your small business has something to offer your customers that larger competitors might not: a connection to your local community. The good news is, demonstrating your commitment to your community doesn’t have to bust your budget. Look for small sponsorship opportunities at local charity events or open your doors to a non-profit for an after-hours fundraiser. Facilitate an environment of community support by encouraging your employees to volunteer with local organizations close to their hearts. Showing your support for the community you serve can be the deciding factor for customers as they weigh their purchasing options.
Showcasing the things that make your small business unique can help you gain a competitive edge. From highlighting the strengths of your small business employees to supporting causes in your local community, you can build strong competitive differentiation that will keep your customers coming back.
When it comes time to choose a banking partner that understands your small business needs, Union Savings Bank is here to help. Contact us today.