Do you need a strategy for your business, to help you make decisions with confidence? People come to me when their business is taking off, and they're looking for an independent voice. I can share with you ideas for services you can sell that will be higher profit for you and high value for your clients. The shortest way to a strong business is knowing exactly where you are going to create immediate value, and for whom. How do your clients see that value, so you and they both share in the outcome? I offer a kind, guiding hand, where you can ask anything and take ownership of your next step.
Odd as it may sound, the secret to good outreach, in my view, is to go narrower. Let me explain.
You have a number of offerings here:
- testing of new IT projects
- maintenance of existing ones
- mobile apps for four very different industries
Each of these seems to be very different markets, and I don't just mean the four different industries. I mean, for example, the testing of applications is very different from maintenance.
So, without knowing more about your current outreach campaign, I'd be focusing specifically on the expensive problem you solve, rather than the solution.
What's the business outcome?
For instance, in the high-end women's fashion industry, what is the app helping achieve? Reduce shoplifting, for example, using RFID technology. Or if it's in the very broad healthcare industry, are you helping reduce waiting room times by means of a virtual care app? Or again, if your app provides psychiatric care to farmers in remote communities, the value is huge for both the farmers and the psychiatric health providers.
But these are very different problems, with very different outcomes. Start with the problem and make it as specific as possible. Or start with a big promise (one that your service will fulfil!)
That's my advice without knowing more about the specifics.
Of course, I'd be honoured if you wanted to consider a call to help you get some more specific, actionable suggestions.
Getting a clear idea of your long-term goal is valuable. It will help you work out whether short-term decisions are in keeping with that vision.
One problem I've encountered is people having no long-term goal (other than, maybe, "make some money"). Another is having long-term goals that are vague.
If you do speak to a business coach, I'd recommend you get some specifics short-term goals that you own, and, of course, that are in keeping with your long-term goal.
You could look at financial benefits, even emotional ones (you don't want your business to run you!), physical (working remotely, holidays, etc.) and even spiritual.
Of course I'd be happy to help you work through this, or recommend you speak to an existing business coach you know or a colleague or friend.
In the supply chain business, refunds are a constant pain. How do you verify the goods are OK, and able to be put back in for resale? It's really important to minimise the desire for refunds.
Now, although this question is for a product, let me answer how I manage the refund question for a service.
Supposing I'm working with someone offering business coaching for several weeks, I'll say something like: "If, during the course of the project, you're not happy with the quality of my work/advice or my ability as a consultant, I'll gladly refund any payments you've made."
Seems generous, but in fact, I'm only guaranteeing the quality of my advice and professionalism. If they decide to ignore my advice, or do something else that is going to undermine their own business, I can't guarantee success.
Also, the guarantee is only during the course of the project, which gives me and them a chance to be very open as we go along, to make sure that I am addressing any concerns early on.
It's a question of showing the client what the next step is, so that they can see what they have to do now, while also keeping in mind the grand vision for their business or lifestyle.
Have to agree with Pamela, here. Breaking through that initial trust barrier is best done in person.
A couple of ways might come to mind.
If you have worked with people in the past, and you know them in a different context from your work (for example, family or friends), you could ask them to tell you in their own words what difference you made to them. That would be valuable testimonial material.
Also, you could share some valuable information about posture, lifting or some other common trigger event you come across in your business. Share it with a local networking group, or an arthritis or orthopaedic forum.
Be helpful, build authority (especially locally), and make it so that when people do meet you, they feel they already know you.
You could certainly ask the expert about that. In my view, it's in the interests of both you and the expert for that to happen.
The expert isn't working for free. Perhaps the expert will only look at the material once you have confirmed the call time. That gives you (as a client) more of a commitment to this expert. But you don't get any feedback until you get a paid call.
As someone who offers advice over Clarity re positioning and pricing, it is certainly in my interest to give the very best advice I can. An important component of that is to do what research I can do ahead of time, so being able to have at least a quick look at a website, a slide deck or a short PDF, before the call makes for a better quality call.
Better calls = better reviews, which is attractive for other potential clients.
For example, supposing a creative design agency contacts me and says: "we need help with positioning ourselves in the market. Our clients are comparing us with Upwork." If I have some background on this particular design agency, by assessing [for example] that they impress visitors with their amazing designs, but that rarely leads to conversions, then the call will be more efficient. Shorter calls are likely to build trust for longer calls and perhaps other project work.
I respect the decision of experts who say: "no, we'll look at this once the meter is running." That is also a good sign, that they are respecting their own time, which increases their perceived value. But reviewing on the spot may require some quick thinking, and being prepared ahead of time makes for a better result for the client, in my view.
Jason's answer is a great approach, because you get to showcase your expertise, rather than simply say: "I build websites".
You're really solving an expensive problem for them, so by asking them about that problem, rather than speaking about your service, you're in a much better place.
And, although you may be offering to build websites from scratch, you might also find that they have an old or broken website, which means that they have at least thought "I need a website." You could still create the new one from scratch.
Re: talking about the expensive problem. My local suburban butcher was getting less foot traffic due to the demographic changes. Someone said: "instead of a placeholder website, how about you start offering online orders." They now deliver to the whole of Sydney, and a simple email to their list with a video on "how to sharpen knives" or "here's how we make Irish sausages to celebrate St. Patrick's day" is enough to trigger hundreds of orders for people who think: "Oh! That's right. I meant to order meat for my party."
So, seeing the website as a solution to an expensive problem (not enough people coming in the door) made it super lucrative.
As with most problems, it comes back to talking to the client to find out what expensive problem it is they need some help with.
Of course, I'd be happy to help on a call, but it sounds like Jason would be a great fit for your situation.
This is a pretty awesome story!
Positioning your business with a narrow focus is, in fact, a way of marketing, but needn't restrict your whole business to that one product or service you're known for. Think of Coca Cola. They make a lot more than that one drink.
It seems, though, that you are targeting two very different markets: the school video market, and the stadium builders. Not much crossover there. You could have a single overarching brand, but that could be tricky, because you'll be tempted to be preaching the same message to two different audiences.
Mind you, if you took the video angle and told your story of how you became accidental heroes from what is (let's face it) a pretty boring product, I think there's a great story there. Even better that you're making the school children the heroes!
It would be great to see how you progress with this.
Is there some area of your SAP experience that would really resonate with a particular business and a particular problem?
For example, if you're a SAP BW expert, you may be able to identify large retail clients who need to use analytics to identify which products and locations are doing best (or worst).
If you're looking to help existing SAP clients move to HANA, are you able to create a roadmap to help them overcome the very first hurdle in making the move?
Or you could aim at a particular position within a particular industry. For instance, you may be great at implementation of SAP HR for manufacturing businesses with over 300 staff.
Of course, you're not bound to go into a business centred around SAP, but if you draw on your existing experience to know who you work with best (and who you'd rather avoid), that can be an easier step than starting all over.
I wish you all the best as you head into a new business. It can be very helpful calling on the help of online communities (such as Clarity.fm), mentors or local meetup groups.
I really like the idea of specific benefits. "Have more time" is vague, but "get to your daughter's dance concert" is specific.
Generally, if you can make the value proposition specific and something that your prospective clients can relate to, you've got a much stronger position than if you offer them the opportunity to: "gain control of your life", or "have more freedom."