If you’re a small biz owner struggling to make a profit, you know that competing with the big dogs is usually a no-win situation. Wal-Mart has an obvious advantage over your local ma and pop shops. The huge chain gets drastic discounts from vendors, can afford to sell for little to zero markup and makes their money based purely on volume.
This applies to online businesses as well. If you are selling any merchandise online you are going to have to contend with giants like Amazon and Ebay whether you like it or not.
As a small business you are generally forced to sell for higher prices and to have a smaller selection since you can’t afford to keep a warehouse full of stock. This can really bite if you don’t know what you’re doing.
So how do you compete?
I always say if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Be an affiliate and earn commissions on their stock. But if your partial to selling your own products and services, here are a few things to keep in mind:
First and most importantly, stop treating your customers like a puppy mill.
Don’t treat your customers like they are one of thousands. Many, many people refuse to shop at Wal-Mart because the store is completely impersonal and the customer service is generally dismal at best. They feel unimportant and unnoticed, like they’re simply fodder for the department store’s coffers. As a small business trying to compete, you need to keep the personal touch.
Build a relationship with your clientele. Make them feel valued.
One of the big reasons that people like to deal with small businesses is because they like having a relationship with their vendors. Sell yourself and your ability to cater to each client personally and you will have not just a gaggle of customers, but a stable of fans who are crazy about you and what you have to offer. And guess what? Fans tell other people about you.
Think of it like this:
When someone goes to Wal Mart or Amazon, they pretty much have to buy whatever is on the rack. But when you’re a small business, you get to break the rules. When you are a small business, you can go “off the rack” and design services that will fit the unique needs of your individual clients. Trust me, clients love this sort of thing. They like to feel special and like they are getting their money’s worth. All I have to say about that is… wouldn’t you?
Feel free to drop your comments below. I’d love to hear them. And stay tuned… there is a part 2 to this one tomorrow. Don’t forget, you can subscribe via RSS and have all my new content posted directly to your email or your reader whenever it becomes available. That way you won’t miss anything juicy.
Cori Padgett AKA k0zm0zs0ul