1. Articulate your unique proposition. For service-based businesses, there is much less emphasis on price than for product-based companies. What makes your agency, your knowhow, your financial service, or your whatever stand out from the crowded competitive landscape? What exactly (other than being cheaper) can bring clients to your door rather than the doors of all those other providers? Small service-based enterprises cannot survive in the long term without clear, measurable, and distinguishing features. Generalities such as “quality” or “custom service” simply won’t do it. Ask your customers and ask your employees, then summarize it in an unforgettable sound bite.
2. Build your visibility.With nothing tangible to see and touch, service providers need to emphasize the emotional and relationship fulfillment that flows from their offering. The business world has gone so far beyond “yellow pages” now. Small enterprises must be proactive every minute of every day to “wave” at potential clients. The Internet age gives you hundreds of promotional channels to choose from. You must consider them ALL and leverage the ones most productive and useful to your particular services and products. Neighborhood networking, community participation, and local cooperative solutions are paths to growth, particularly for service-based businesses.
3. Deal in value, never price. Services are not commodities. The value you add is all at the point of delivery and must last until the next customer interaction. So, if your customers value time, information, ever-readiness, after-sales support, ideas, and so on, that is what you must provide. Bundled services in custom-made offerings are the way forward. In your market sector, the price will always follow client needs.
4. Review and formalize your strategy. “How am I going to meet my client’s needs?” is the fundamental question for ALL businesses. The answer is your core strategy that guides your tactics. The two together – strategy and tactics – make the blueprint to build your business success. Because customer needs are a fast-moving target, you must constantly be reviewing your strategy and tactics so as to anticipate changes and keep your aim straight and true towards meeting market demand.
5. Gift your customers and involve your employees at every stage. Makers of products sell them while continuously assessing their performance against customer requirements. This is the very definition of quality. But service-based businesses depend upon relationships in the moment for their success. On the supply side, you give your consultancy, your expertise, and your expediting contribution, etc., but it is always the client’s prerogative to both complete and keep the relationship going.