Ten Tips To Increase Your Edge In A Competitive Marketplace
By Bruce A. Blitman, Attorney At Law/Certified Circuit, Family and County Mediat
Clients are the lifeblood of every business. In order to remain in business, entrepreneurs need a steady stream of consumers to purchase their products and services. What can entrepreneurs do to secure their continued survival in an increasingly competitive marketplace? This article offers ten tips to help you build your practice.
- Be Excellent at What You Do: Clients and customers must perceive that you are providing them with exceptional products and services for their money. If they do not believe this, they will not refer their trusted friends, colleagues and loved ones to you. Whatever your business, you must demonstrate patience, persistence, passion, compassion and concern in your dealings with clients and customers.
- Exceed Expectations: In a competitive marketplace, all successful entrepreneurs must meet and exceed the expectations of increasingly demanding clients. Find out what clients expect from you before providing services. If their expectations are unrealistic, be honest and tell them what you can and can't do for them. If you know you will not be able to meet their demands, thank them for their time and wish them well.
- Identify Your Competitive Advantages: What makes you special and unique? Why are your products and services different (and better) than those of your competitors in the marketplace? What reasons can you give to your prospective clients and customers to choose you?
- Identify Your Target Audience: In a world of increasing specialization, it is impossible to be all things to all people. What is your "niche" in your marketplace? Who are the clients you are most interested in attracting? Who will benefit from your products and services? Who are you trying to reach and impress with your message? Target your messages and outreach efforts to this particular demographic group.
- Become an Expert in Your Chosen Field: Learn as much as you possibly can about what you choose to do. Self improvement is essential for all entrepreneurs. Read everything you can about your fields of interest. Attend seminars. Subscribe to (and read) professional journals and publications. Listen to audiotapes while driving to appointments. Increase your knowledge base, and both your professional colleagues and your prospective clients and customers will perceive you as an expert in your field.
- Speak Out: Although surveys routinely show that most people are more afraid of speaking in public than they are of dying, there are few better ways to establish your credibility and expertise. Try to get as much practice as possible in non threatening situations. When you are feeling more confident, you can volunteer to speak to groups that are most likely to benefit from your knowledge and consume your products and services. Many groups and organizations are looking for people willing to speak at their meetings.
- Publish: This is another inexpensive way for you to develop a reputation for excellence and gain credibility with your professional colleagues, existing clients and prospective clients. You can write scholarly articles for publication in professional journals and more practical columns for publication in newspapers, magazines and journals that are likely to be read by your clientele. Send courtesy copies of your articles to your clients and former clients. It's a great way to keep in touch with them and impress them with your expertise and thoughtfulness. You can also make copies of your articles to hand out to audiences during your speaking engagements.
- Maximize Your Mingling: When you find yourself in a crowd, don't just stand in a corner with a drink in your hand. Initiate conversation and don't be afraid to introduce yourself to people. Ask people questions about themselves and carefully listen to their answers. Make eye contact while they are speaking. If you come to the party with a realistic goal of meeting a few people each time, you will gradually expand your comfort zone for socializing. Don't forget to exchange business cards!
- Show Your Concern and Appreciation: Send a short handwritten note to the people with whom you exchange business cards at seminars, professional meetings and parties. In this age of email and cyberspace, a personal note is unusual and memorable. Don't forget about your existing clients and customers. Show your appreciation for their business. When a case or contract is finished, send a personal handwritten note thanking them for their confidence in selecting you. When a client or customer is promoted or starts a new business, a telephone call or personal handwritten note of congratulations will be appreciated and remembered. You can also send cards to acknowledge other important events (birthdays, weddings, births, deaths, illnesses) in your customers' lives. These small gestures of caring and concern are thoughtful ways to keep in touch with your clients.
- Be Reliable and Prompt: With cell phones and email, it is hard to come up with a legitimate excuse for not promptly responding to the messages of clients. Demonstrate your courtesy, respect and appreciation for your clients and customers by returning all cell phone calls and emails promptly. If you cannot return a message before the end of the day, call and leave a message on that client's voice mail that evening. It is also important to arrive for appointments on time and don't ever make your clients wait for you.
Building your business will not be easy, but remembering these ten steps may help you realize your goals for attracting and keeping clients. You will meet with success and setbacks along the way and will need to be patient, persistent, passionate and optimistic. I wish you much good luck in your pursuit of happiness and success.
Copyright, Bruce A. Blitman, 2011. All Rights Reserved.
No portion of this article can be duplicated or reproduced in any way without the express written consent of the author: Bruce A. Blitman is an attorney and
certified mediator with a solo practice in Ft. Lauderdale. He is certified by the Florida Supreme Court as a County, Circuit and Family Mediator.
Blitman is a Diplomate member of the Florida Academy of Professional Mediators, Inc. and a former President of the Academy. He can be reached at
(954)437-3446 and BABMEDIATE@aol.com. His website is www.bruceblitman.com and Facebook at Bruce Blitman, Esq. His office is located at 9050 Pines Blvd. Suite 450, Pembroke Pines, Fl. 33024