When I began my business in March of 2010, I knew I was going to be walking a fine line. I needed to balance creating an array of services that would appeal to small businesses. And I knew that while there were many, many other internet marketing firms in the area that would be offering the same services, I had to somehow set myself apart from them.
I started with two mindsets. Not only was I going to charge less than my competition, I was going to out-work, out-communicate, out-perform them. I was going to provide each of my clients with an individual package of services that they could of course find somewhere else, but as Marlon Brando would put it – “I am going to give them an offer they can’t refuse.”
By keeping my overhead low, I can keep my prices low. And with low prices come lowered expectations. I provide a level of service that my clients would probably pay 5-10 times as much with another company. I get projects done efficiently and I work hard to make sure they are done right the first time.
I could charge what I know the market value for a website to be and most would probably pay it. I charge what things cost, not the maximum that I think a client will pay. Unfortunately, a lot of businesses in my field disagree with that practice.
I grew up learning from the king of customer service, my dad, CEO of Young’s Dairy. He teaches weekly and monthly classes about the importance of the guest experience at his farm and I take that to heart in my business as well. It’s not just about making as much money as possible. It’s about creating an opportunity to help someone. I am helping small businesses succeed.
When I take on a new client, I put myself in their shoes. What are they doing in their store to make the customer experience a great one and how can I supplement that with a website or their social media campaign? I work to meet with my clients as often as they want to ensure that the things I do for them online match what they do offline.
One of the things I really try to be is flexible. Clients come to me because they don’t want to deal with the big internet marketing firms in the area. Not only are their costs too high, but their rules and guidelines make them difficult to work with. Of my last 5 clients, 4 of them have stated that the previous company that they were talking to tried to alter the client’s business plan to fit the firm’s needs. Shouldn’t it be the other way around?
I’ve had a handful of clients that have needs outside of what I’m comfortable in handling. But I explain the situation to them and we learn together what works and what doesn’t. Being flexible is like Yoga Classes for Business.
I never stop working for my clients, sometimes to a fault. I know that sounds like one of those standard interview questions “My only fault is that I work too hard” but it’s true. I spent most of the recent July 4th weekend at my desk, sketching frameworks for potential clients, brainstorming for current clients and catching up on things for my end of business (blog entries, accounting, marketing plans, etc – you know, the exciting stuff).
I haven’t answered “Not as busy as I’d like!” to the question “How is business?” in many months. I love what I do and I love working for my clients. Helping them succeed makes me feel good about what I’m doing. It makes them feel less like clients and more like friends. And I like that.
Nearly all of my clients have come from referrals from my other clients. What does that say about the level of service I provide?
I am open and honest with the services I provide, I do whatever I can within my means to make my clients happy and I work my tail off for them. What more can a client ask of me?
I realize that I probably am outside of the norm with my business. I keep my prices low, I provide excellent customer service and I work hard to ensure my clients are happy. I guess that’s why I’m going to be busy for a long time to come.