What I love about small businesses is their passion and energy. They’ll chat animatedly about their business and their plans. But for too many small business owners their passion and their commitment to delivering fantastic customer service does not make it through to their marketing. They slide into serious underselling without even realising it. So, before you embark on your export plans in earnest, I want you to stop and take notice of what I am sharing here. Because if you are guilty of serious underselling the likelihood is that you will bring this flaw into exporting. The net result is that you are unlikely to succeed. You might just get away with serious underselling in the UK because you have a swell of customers who know, like and trust you and recommend you, but when you are entering a new country with no back story, you are to a large extent, starting from scratch. So, you can’t afford to either consciously (or sub consciously) put marketing on the back burner.
Here are the tell-tale signs of a business guilty of serious underselling:
- Their company website is impersonal. The text is lifeless. In fact, if you remove the company name from the pages, you’d be hard pushed to differentiate their content from a competitor’s.
- Despite continually improving their services, and lavishing care and attention on their customers, there’s no hint of this in any of their sales communications. You can search high and low for the benefits and ‘reasons why you can trust us…’ but you won’t find them.
- Customers are serviced to the hilt and very happy too. But they’re often in the dark about the other products or services the company offers simply because they haven’t been told.
- Any adverts that promote the business comprise of little more than a shopping list of services. Or chunks of text are taken from a brochure with a few images added for good measure.
- The business has won awards and accreditations, but you’ll not find a trace of these anywhere. Their growing expertise and their hard-earned success are a well-kept secret!
Here’s how you can cure yourself of serious underselling
This is what customers are looking for from you…
- Reliability – they want to count on you to deliver a high standard of customer service consistently. They want reassuring you won’t pass them around.
- Credibility – they want to be sure you are trustworthy. If you say you’ll call back and update them, you will even when you don’t have the full answer
- Patient and painstaking – they want to be confident you’ll always make the effort to thoroughly understand their needs. You won’t palm them off!
- Responsiveness – they expect you to be swift to respond to questions, requests, and complaints.
- Competence – they want to be sure that you have a high level of skill, knowledge, and qualification to offer your products and services to the highest standards.
- Politeness – they want to be treated in a courteous, welcoming manner
- Value – they don’t expect you to be the cheapest nor should you be, but they look for good value.
It’s time to take a benefit stock take of your business – simply writing down all the benefits you offer using the pointers above and those below to guide you.
Skills, qualifications, experience
Pro customer service culture and training in your business
Extras you deliver at little or no charge
Your availability and your speed of response
Your adaptability – how you flex and change to meet customers’ needs
What this all adds up to for customers – the experience they get.
Now use this content to inspire all your communications – website, leaflets, email promotions, reminders to live and lapsed customers, webinars, pod casts and how you communicate on the phone – basically everything! Every time a customer, a prospect or a lapsed customer connects with your business, the magic must happen. It is not enough to claim that when you speak to a person you give it your all. This must happen everywhere.
Then, when you are ready to export, you have a proven marketing communications’ toolkit that can be adapted to mould to the country you are exporting to and the buying culture; one that you know works. Because customers are the same the world over. We might have to tailor and adapt but the fundamentals remain the same.