What Compels People to Hire You (Instead of Your Competitor)?

Posted by Heather Villa, CMA, MBA, MSM on January 12, 2010 in: Branding, Business - Plain & Simple

be differentEach and every day, millions of entrepreneurs sit down at their desks and compete with each other to earn business. For many, it’s fun. For many, it’s cut-throat. For many, it’s desperate. If you run a business, how can you compete against everyone else in your niche to grow?

I face that frequently in my work and I’m sure you do too. There are some industry leaders who some how naturally and magnetically draw customers without trying, and then there are many who are close behind and vying for the rest of the potential business out there.

For those “A” list stars – the Tom Cruises and Julia Roberts of the niche – they can charge pretty much anything they want and deliver pretty much any quality they want and it will seem like their service is gold plated.

And the rest of the providers in the niche? The B-through-Z listers? The rest are fighting in a frenzy for the remaining business and they use different measurables to compete with.

The most common – and perhaps the most frustrating – is competing on price: This is where a product or service provider somehow squeezes the numbers down to an embarrassingly low rate. They serve a particular group of the niche who are very price sensitive. In my opinion, this isn’t a great strategy but I can certainly see why someone would want to do it – it seems better to stay busy and earn a few pennies of profit than to have sporadic work and earn a few dollars.

But there is a better way to compete and it doesn’t bring price into the equation. Businesses need to stop competing on price and instead start competing on value. Plain and simple! Rather than saying: “Here’s what we do and this is what it will cost you”, change the conversation to “Here’s what we do and this is how it will benefit you” (and make sure that there are lots and lots of benefits). When you do this, you’ll still get customers who ask right away, “How much will it cost?” but overall you’ll get a higher caliber of customer because they understand that value comes with a price tag.

There is a great article about this in the Small Business section of the New York Times, How Can We Compete with the Big Boys. The article itself is focused on a single niche but the writer has good thoughts to share for every niche. The writer, Jennifer Walzer, who owns a computer back-up service, talked about the A-listers and the B-to-Z listers and how price was a temptation to compete on. But then she brings it back to value – good old value! – and rightly points out that good business is built with value.

What does this mean for your business? Start by listing all of your products or services and writing down the value they provide to your customers. List as many points of value as you can think of. Then mix in other points of value that working with you provide – such as your expertise, connections, or availability. Make a great big list. And then draw from that list when you present your services to prospects.

Happy Blogging!

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