03 November 2021
Making your business stand out
Struggling to get your business noticed? Read our 6 tips to stand out from the crowd and reach your ideal customers.
If you have a business, you have competition. Even truly unique business ideas, if they’re good, won’t be free from competitors for long - remember when Uber was new and was the absolute ‘go to’ replacement for taxis? Well after just a few years, Australians can now choose from DiDi, Ola, Shebah as well a bunch of other rideshare alternatives.
Competition means your business will have to stand out in the minds (and maybe also the hearts) of your customers and potential customers.
We asked two successful business owners to tell us what they do to win customers and keep them.
Have a higher purpose
Peter James is highly regarded in the hospitality industry. He has successfully owned and operated six cafes and catering businesses and currently operates three under the Blue Door brand.
“It doesn’t start with making money,” explains James. “It’s always been about passion and creating a great product and experience. If I focus on that, the customers will come,” he adds.
Peter James says that he always starts out with a vision board, a simple reference point of what he’s trying to achieve, what the product will be, the customer experience and what the business will be known for. “I am always referring back to the vision board, even years later to see that I’m still on track” says James.
Tony Liddle, managing director of branded merchandising business, ACME Group, doesn’t think of the business as one that helps corporate customers with branded merchandise like umbrellas, cups and uniforms but rather a business that “helps customers create memories,” says Liddle.
‘Creating memories’ is the higher purpose of ACME Group and you are left with no doubt of that when talking to Tony Liddle. ‘Memories’ is a term that comes up repeatedly in our conversation. Good business operators not only have a higher purpose but ensure that that purpose is featured in every aspect of their business.
Customer, customer, customer
All businesses are customer businesses. It’s critical to remember that your customers don’t just experience your business in your industry, they experience businesses in many industries. Their expectations of service and quality are always rising.
“I need to adapt my product and service with what the customer wants, making sure I’m always on trend” explains James about his hospitality businesses. “My menu is not what I want to serve, it’s what my customers want to buy.”
Tony Liddle says “it’s not only important to treat customers with respect, to be flexible but also to make them feel like they are the only customer you have at that moment.”
Solving customer pain points is a great way to separate your business from others. Peter James noticed that on hot days at this beach cafe, customers waited in queues in the sun for long periods of time. He installed mist sprinklers to cool people down. Then he had an app built so people could order without waiting in a queue. “Keep solving the problems that others aren’t and you’ll have more customers,” explains James.
Surprise and delight
Customers expect a certain quality of product and service. Successful business operators look for opportunities above the standard in which to surprise and delight their customers.
“I’m always looking for new ideas to surprise my customers,” says James, “new menu items, free coffees, new loyalty discounts,”. Peter James organised an exclusive arrangement to serve a vegan & dairy free ice cream made from all-natural coconut water. “I knew my customers would love it, so I had to get it.”
Being dependable is a good way to stand out from the competitors. “When my customers want something, they want something and we just have to make it happen,” explains Liddle. “Even if I have to stay up all night to get it done. The end result is not just a happy customer, it can transform my role in the relationship from that of supplier to that of trusted partner.”
Happy staff, happy customers
Tony Liddle and Peter James speak definitively about the necessity to create a good working environment and culture for their employees.
“I want my staff to feel listened to, happy and valued,” says James. “They are the face of my business and an important representation of my values. If they represent the values of the business, we will stand out.”
Tony Liddle talks about giving staff the opportunity to thrive within the business. A sentiment that is echoed by Peter James, who says he is constantly looking for ways to involve staff more deeply in the business and what value he can give above the wages he pays - “I don’t just want to be a boss, but also a mentor,” explains James.
Create and maintain a strong brand
Take every opportunity to make your business stand out, starting with the name. “The name ACME was made famous by the Looney Tunes cartoons,” says Liddle. “That made it instantly memorable, and creating memories is entirely what ACME is about,” he adds.
“The name, the logo, the store design, what the staff wear and how they interact with customers, it’s all part of the brand,” says James. “People need to feel your brand, not think it,” he adds. “If people ask, why is it called Blue Door? Not only can I tell them where the name comes from, but I now have an invitation to tell a story, to sell the bigger picture.”
Have a strong digital presence
Standing out online is critical for most businesses today, but you need to be careful with how you spend your money and who you listen to. “You can spend a lot and not get a lot for it,” explains Liddle.
If you want good results, it seems you must take some time to learn the digital world yourself. ‘SEO’ and ‘SEM’, ‘paid search’ vs ‘organic’ may seem like really strange and difficult terms but with a little bit of investigation you’ll be able to get at least a rudimentary understanding.
Tony Liddle said he’s finally decided to bite the bullet and do a digital marketing course himself, “It’s about getting more control and improving our memorability online,” he adds.
When your business is standing out and is the talk of the town, you’re going to need to protect it. NRMA has a range of business insurance options across ACT, NSW, QLD, TAS, WA, SA and NT to keep your small business secure.