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Several years ago I was managing a marketing consulting business that was gathering momentum despite its competition’s failure to do so in the same market. Our management seemed optimistic and excited about the future of the company. In contrast, similar businesses were complaining about “down markets” and their clients’ “lack of commitment to marketing.” So what were we doing that gave us the edge?
Several things, but most importantly our business strategy involved “giving away value.” Whenever we signed a new client, we would brainstorm how we could add to the client’s positive experience of the company. For example, we closed a deal to create a campaign for a large insurance corporation. We knew that they wanted to make a big noise about their campaign because it had a social responsibility component to it. With this in mind, we told the client that they could have complete access to our PR company to assist them with the launch. We paid our PR company a small fee for their time and the client ended up using them several times again. The client was very impressed with our willingness to go the extra mile and invest our money into their success. They referred us to other business units in the corporation, which led to more work and some great portfolio case studies. Try creating a result that will keep the momentum going when you give away value. Even if you have a small degree of control over the result, you can probably create a positive outcome.
There are several ways for small businesses to give away value at little or no cost to themselves. In my business I generate loads of written material for my clients. Most of it can be easily rewritten into an article or a how-to guide. These elements can be emailed or included in newsletters without much effort. The key is when you make contact with your audience demonstrate to them that you are frequently giving away value. It might take five or ten times before they buy from you but they will notice you.
In attracting clients, see what bonuses, free gifts, or reports you can provide that add real value and have high perceived value but do not cost you much.
All successful executives know that the only thing more expensive than a good education is ignorance. If you are in a position to educate your clients, partners, vendors, or even your competition, then do it. Educating your competition can be a very favorable strategy if you are in an industry that is new and is trying to gain credibility and develop a market. By growing the industry you grow the market, and the spin-off is that if you lead the way you will become known as an innovator.
Running workshops, training courses, publishing guides, and hosting web conferences are simple and cheap ways to extend your knowledge to your constituent markets. In the early days of the Internet boom, there were dozens of new services but very few people knew how to use them to make their businesses run better. The companies that succeeded in getting their clients on-board were very often the companies hosting free workshops and training for potential clients.