Thursday 18 January 2018

How can I show people that my business stands out?

Feargal Quinn. Photo: Tom Burke
Feargal Quinn. Photo: Tom Burke

Q: I run a café and produce really good quality food that requires a bit of a premium over other cafés in my region. Sales are challenging but I haven't done a good job at communicating why I am different. Any advice?

A: Communicating your unique selling points is critical in any business and it sounds like your failure to do this has resulted in some confusion among your consumers.

I recently met a café owner who had been trading for four years and was astonished to find a significant number of customers still didn't know they baked their scones and bread in-house. Most had assumed they were buying them from some other bakery.

Usually telling your story needs to be done through lots of different channels. Signage on your display is the first point of communication eg, 'All of our bread and cakes are produced in-house on a daily basis.'

Information on 'tent cards' at the centre of each table is also a good idea as it provides consumers with information as they enjoy their food. Obviously a great website and social media strategy help to reinforce the message of quality and artisan production. Posting photographs of your production facility and products coming fresh from your oven is a great visual way to communicate.

I recall a supermarket group in the States called Ukrop's who took great pride in the products they produced and one of the smart ways they communicated was by using the word 'own'. For any product they had 100pc control over and manufactured themselves they talked up its provenance eg, Ukrop's Own Beef (They had their own abattoir). That simple single word helped reinforce their credibility as the retailer most passionate about food and who produced the best product.

Don't make assumptions that consumers will understand what you are doing, you must become a master at communicating your points of difference.

Q: I run a beauticians and have recently bought a premises and will be moving the business from a rented location. The new location is less prominent and I am worried I will lose my customers. Have you any advice?

A: It is great to hear you asking the question and recognising that there is a risk in this process.

Some businesses just move premises and assume that their customers will just follow which sometime doesn't materialise. There are several things that you can do.

Start within one month of when you plan to move and communicate the message with your existing customers that you are planning to move and where your new location will be.

Use tools like signage in the window, hand every customer a small leaflet with a map of where your new premises will be, use your social media to flag the move and tell customers as you chat with them.

Closer to the time of the move use your text database to alert customers of the date and if a local newspaper is willing to run a feature that would be helpful also. Be careful about the wording in all of your messaging as you don't want anyone to think that you are closing down so it should be worded in the context of 'Great news: we are moving to a new premises'.

Your work only begins when you move. Some businesses make the move but forget that they need to start actively promoting their business one they get to their new location. Run some promotional offers and look at some form of loyalty scheme which will incentivise customers to come to you.

You could also consider teaming up with a stylist or one of your make-up companies to come in and give a series of talks to key customers over the first few months.

Good luck with the move and I am sure it will be a fantastic success.

Do you have problems with your small business? Email Feargal at problemsolver@independent.ie

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