No one is going to buy anything from anyone they don’t trust. Trust is a feeling, an emotion and it has to be earned. Martin Butler
There’s good news for small retailers. Customers prefer local. Author and lecturer Martin Butler explains why, and what you can do to boost your customer appeal.
The future of retail is local! Not only does my global research indicate this… but Wal-Mart, the largest retailer on the planet, is on the record agreeing with it too.
In fact, around the world, the biggest challenge the heavyweights is making their gigantic businesses genuinely relevant to local markets, local people, local feelings. That’s why convenience stores are the flavour of the month or why individual coffee shops are stirring things just the way customers like…nowadays people want to be ‘excited and delighted’ and they love it when you make it personal!
So for start-ups and small businesses the time couldn’t be better.
The modern customer loves localness, loves dealing with someone they know, someone they can relate to. While the big boys use algorithms, analysis and big data, it’s nowhere near the same as being served by someone who genuinely ‘cares’…. deep down, customers don’t like being treated as one-of- the-cloud.
So here’s my ‘High Five’ for small business success:
Understand you sell nothing that can’t be bought somewhere else.
Even if it’s unique at the moment, it’ll soon be copied. So it’s not what you do, but it’s how you do it that’s the key to success.
Broadly speaking, customers are looking for solutions so you must always adopt a mind-set of being in the business of being chosen. No matter how different your particular dress design is, how flavoursome your pies are or how well you cut hair – you are just one of the many ‘solutions’ customers can choose.
Fully embrace the fact that you’ll only be chosen, or repeatedly chosen, if you make the customers feel they are very special indeed…I call it ‘emotional edge’. By being authentic as well as emotionally based it should also make it more difficult for competitors to copy.
Know very clearly why your business exists.
As Steve Jobs is believed to famously enjoy asking, you must be able to passionately explain to everyone and anyone ‘what wrong you’re going to right’ in this world. When you explain your purpose to customers they should be as excited as you and your teams are!
And guess what, if making money is your purpose there’s very little chance your customers will be as excited as you. Profits should only ever be viewed as an outcome – making you rich is certainly not the ‘reason’ a customer will chose you. Keep it passionate, and change the world for the better by knowing exactly why you and your business exists.
3 HUMAN BEINGS
Hey big surprise, customers are 100 per cent human beings… so always keep it appropriate and personal.
Most importantly remember, according to various statistics, women control over 85 per cent of customer spending including 60 per cent of boys’ toys and incredibly they influence 70 per cent of male fashions.
It doesn’t really matterhow accurate these actual figures are in your particular village, city or country - you get my point. When it comes to customers, women are significantly more important than the 51 per cent they represent numerically!
Never ever, ever forget the most important point about human beings - no one is going to buy anything from anyone they don’t trust; certainly they won’t buy from them ever again if they can’t trust them.
Trust is a feeling, an emotion and it has to be earned. So at all times view your business as being on the customers’ side in all its dealings. Do this and you will start to earn their respect and from this, over time, trust will develop…hey why not underpin your business with a proper ‘no quibble’ guarantee – and don’t be tempted to run your business for the 2 per cent of customers who’ll try to rip you off, 98 per cent won’t!
And as all customers are human beings please remember …we are hard-wired to ‘love’ easy.
So in every way, every day, strive to make life as easy as possible for your customers. Success is all about developing a mind-set of ‘easy everything.’ Forensically look to remove all psychological and physical barriers to purchase. When a customer wants to browse in store or online, make it easy. When they want to buy, make it really easy. When they’re ready to pay make it really, really, easy!
No human being ever said, oh I wish they’d made it a bit more difficult for me!