August 21, 2016

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competitor-reporting-image
September 9, 2016

The Pursuit of Creating Value: Best Practice #3 – What do you offer that is different from your competitors?

A few years ago I was exhibiting at a trade show where there were other translation companies exhibiting their businesses. A gentleman came to my booth to ask me what I was selling. I started my selling conversation by sharing with him my well-prepared elevator speech and telling him of the excellent quality and state-of-the art technology we offered that would allow him to get cost-effective translations. When I was about to ask him how my company could meet his company’s needs, he abruptly stopped me and asked, “What do you do differently from other translation companies?” That question took me by surprise and I stumbled with my words while giving him an answer.

I didn’t get that gentleman as a client, but what a good lesson I learned that day. It was definitely a wake-up call for me. I came back from that trade show thinking, what do I really do differently from my competitors? How could I compete with all those other providers that offer the same old “quality” translation services? How could I stand out from the crowd? What was my unique selling proposition?

A unique selling proposition is key in your business. If you don’t know what makes you unique, you will be competing primarily on price. If you work so hard, why should price be the only decision factor? We all want to be compensated for our work. So, if you don’t want to compete on price, it is critical that you unearth that very special characteristic that will make your clients decide to work with you as opposed to your competitors.

Here are some tips that will help you to define what sets you apart.

Make a list of your credibility features. What you offer in terms of an added advantage in your positioning in the marketplace has to do with your credibility features. Perhaps you created a program or a system that nobody else has. Perhaps you have received special awards or mentions related to your offering. Perhaps you use a piece of technology that is revolutionary in your industry. Maybe you are a member of a board of directors of some organization. Think about all those things that not everybody in your industry has the privilege of bragging about. That’s unique.

Learn your unique way of doing business. As human beings, we are all different. Not even a set of identical twins is the same. There are lots of people out there doing the same thing than you do, but dig into identifying your unique way, your own personality, your style, those extra touches you add to your offering, and those different ideas you created on how to provide your services to increase your clients’ benefits.

Clearly communicate your uniqueness. Create a clear statement about your unique features that you can use everywhere and all the time, and use it consistently throughout your marketing material.  Become an expert on communicating to the world what you do so differently from your competitors. That statement does not have to be long. The more precise it is, the better.

Don’t be shy when someone asks you what makes you so different from those than do the same thing. It’s perfectly fine to brag about your specialty. Remember, what is important is to stand out from the crowd. You won’t stand out from the crowd if you hide behind your shyness or just keep it to yourself.

Focus on the benefits, not so much on the process. We love what we do, right? But the fact that we love our offering doesn’t mean everybody has to know all the different steps we must follow to produce our wonderful product or deliver our service. Clients want to know what we are going to do for them. They have pains and our job is to provide the “cure” for those pains.  We are their problem-solver. Tell the world how they will benefit from working with us.

You are the problem-solver. Confidence creates trust. When you walk around the world sharing with everybody your unique selling proposition, it is important that you are totally convinced that you can help your clients with your services. Otherwise, they will not see you as a problem-solver. Your clients are going to pay you to fix their problems. You need to be 100% sure that you have the capabilities, knowledge, experience and that special touch that will make a client a client for life.

Remember, developing your unique selling proposition will help you to differentiate your business from your competitors. Your current and potential clients will notice the difference and be willing to establish a long-term business relationship with you. In addition to that, when you are clear on what your unique selling proposition is, your team will have a clear understanding on how they need to deliver your business services. Last but not least, your unique selling proposition is NOT about you. It is how your unique features will help to solve your clients’ problems.

 

 

Respect Ethics Honest Integrity Signpost Means Good Qualities
September 8, 2016

The Pursuit of Creating Value: Best Practices #2 – Ethics Really Matter

The Oxford English dictionary defines ethics as “the moral principles governing or influencing conduct.” In all communities, societies, organizations and cultures there are prescriptions and prohibitions that define morality. Each community has its mandated, prohibited, laudable and reprehensible actions.  When we become part of a larger community, the extent of our obligations and prohibitions expands. This is true of companies also.  Their acts – and the individuals that are part of them – affect positively or negatively on other businesses, other individuals, and/or other processes. Ethics are of major relevance to every individual, and that extends to business as well. Every decision involves some ethics. Whether negotiating with suppliers or customers, hiring or firing employees, allocating responsibilities, or launching a promotion, the matter of ethics is always present.

Individual ethics and organizational ethics cannot be completely separated, since, after all, those who perform the tasks in organizations are individuals with their own ethics and personal convictions about what should and should not be done at any time. Moreover, in the diverse work environment in which we live nowadays, individuals bring ethical values that may not be consistent with those of the organization or other individuals. People make ethical decisions based on their own personal values and sometimes ignore the ethics of the organization or others. It is important, therefore, that an organization establish a code of ethics that calls for, among other things, high standards of honesty, objectivity, diligence and loyalty to which everyone in the organization should conform regardless of his/her cultural background.

Ethics plays a prominent role in the buying process.

When it’s time to choose between you and your competitors, clients will go with the one that displays the highest ethics in accordance with their own value reference framework. If you appreciate honesty and integrity, you will attract clients that place a high regard on those values as well.

Clients reward ethical companies with loyalty.

Let’s suppose your client sent you a payment in an amount greater than the amount due on the invoice. Do you elect to ignore the error and keep the extra cash for yourself? Or do you call your client and let him/her know about the error? If you do the latter, your client will always remember you for your honesty. You will be rewarded with loyalty, and your reputation will be increased.

Ethical companies attract more employees.

If your company has a bad reputation and is usually in the news for scandals, complaints from employees and customers, or breaking regulations and mandates, that will automatically scare away good, honest and reliable employees. Remember, it’s human nature to look for those that share similar values and standards as our own.  Now, imagine the effect that this will have on your bottom line.

Ethical companies are less vulnerable to legal actions.

Businesses today are characterized by transparency. The Internet has opened the doors to what used to be confidential information, and corporate wrongdoing is constantly being uncovered in cyberspace. A lack of ethical conduct can negatively impact the bottom line of an organization, often by necessitating expenditures for litigation and fines, not to mention causing serious damage to the firm’s reputation.

Ethics can benefit the bottom line.

Ethics can benefit the bottom line by ingraining motivation and productivity in employees, thereby leading to a good corporate reputation. A good reputation will also strengthen customer loyalty and help maintain and increase market share.

All organizations have an ethical obligation to each of the five groups that constitute them – owners, shareholders, employees, customers, suppliers and the community – not only in terms of rules and obligations but in terms of values: freedom, equality, solidarity, ongoing respect and dialogue. The organization as a whole, with the guidance of its chief executives and owners, must lead in the generation of three fundamental ethical elements that enable the development of values: the ethics of responsibility, the ethics in everyone’s interest, and the ethics of the organization. That is, an organization must facilitate the development of its business ethics based on these elements: a strong corporate culture (collectively constructed values), the human talent as the main asset of the organization, quality as a fundamental aspiration, the combination of tangibles (material) and intangibles (harmony, cooperation, warmth, avoidance of conflict), and concern for its customers, employees, suppliers and competitors.  An organization must assume the social responsibility for its actions, exercise leadership based on values, and govern a moral contract – beyond the legal contract – between it and its members.

To sum up, laying the foundation of your business on the basis of a code of ethics defined by what is important to you, what your core values are and how they will contribute to your client’s success and the increased greatness of the society are key to creating sustained growth.  Today organizations, regardless of their size, are required to have a clear and transparent moral code so consumers or customers, employees and the general public can make rational choices. In the more sophisticated markets such codes become deciding factors when choosing where to shop, where to work, where to invest, etc.

Ethics should be consistent, clear and communicated to all levels as part of an organization’s unique organizational culture.  Most big corporations understand that a responsible organization is dependent upon a combination of virtuous people and professional integrity.

Survey form
September 7, 2016

The Pursuit of Creating Value: Best Practices #1 – Seek Your Client’s Opinion

A lot of solopreneurs and small businesses fall short when it comes to client retention. In today’s economy it is extremely important to maintain those clients that already know the value of our product or service. It costs less to keep a client than to get a new one.  The ongoing pursuit of value is a big dilemma businesses face day in and day out. This is especially true when we want to differentiate ourselves from our competitors.

Best Practice #1:  Seek Your Client’s Opinion. It is without a doubt that today’s marketing is about communities, having conversations, truly listening to our client’s needs and most importantly, taking into account that feedback so necessary for us to become more valuable to our clients, resulting in more business growth, profitability and, most importantly, personal satisfaction.

The benefits of seeking feedback are countless. A client’s opinion has invaluable sales power. Our clients have already experienced what it’s like to work with us – what kind of value they are receiving from us. They corroborate what we are trying to demonstrate, that is, how good our product or service is. We must be open, receptive and most welcoming to what our clients have to say about our services. We must make it a habit to follow up with our clients after completing a project or assignment. This practice will not just show our clients that we really care about the overall satisfaction of our product, but it will also help to build up our reputation as someone who is very attentive to meeting clients’ needs.

Here are some channels you can use to seek your client’s feedback. Please make sure you do not overwhelm your client with your feedback requests. Your clients are very busy, so use the method that you think is more appropriate for your client’s busy schedule.

Post-project email: A few days after you have delivered a project, fulfilled an order or completed an assignment for your client, follow up with a brief email to find out if everything met their expectations.  Most clients will respond, but, if they don’t, you may want to wait a few days and follow up with a phone call. Even if you can’t get the feedback you are seeking, your client will feel that you really cared about their overall satisfaction.

Follow-up phone call: If your client is easily accessible, you can follow up with a quick phone call. Be very polite and seek feedback about the project, using just a few questions. Remember that your client is very busy. The idea is to learn if your client’s expectations were met. Now, if you are bold enough, seek feedback as to how to improve. In a service business, perception is everything. So make sure your and your client’s perceptions are in alignment. You may want to follow up with a quick “thank you” email for the feedback. If your client didn’t get your call, you can leave a voice mail and ask them let you know if anything was not to their complete satisfaction. One phone call is sufficient. Don’t bombard your client with several phone calls. This may annoy them and produce a negative response.

Brief online survey: You can easily create a very quick post-project survey in Google Docs so your clients can provide their feedback online using a short survey designed to report their overall satisfaction.

Be open and prepare to follow through on the feedback you receive. If your client is very happy with you, strengthen those features that your client really likes about working with you. If there are some areas of concern, take action and improve upon them. Don’t settle for just “meeting” client’s expectations. Your goal should always be to exceed them!

google-yourself
August 30, 2016

Google Yourself Often

Your clients and prospects will most likely be conducting an online search of you before even considering your services. What will they find when they Google your name or business? Something as simple and silly as an embarrassing photograph or a personal twitter account that shows you acting unprofessionally can be enough to immediately turn off your prospects and make them look elsewhere. So be sure that, when your name is Googled, nothing embarrassing or unprofessional appears in the results. If something incriminating does come up, do whatever you can to make it private or take it off the Internet. Take this Googling approach one step further and create amazing, compelling content that appears at the very top of the results page. This is called search engine optimization and can be extremely beneficial to your brand.