You've got a great startup idea and the means to begin your own business. However, the business world is tricky to navigate. Unless your enterprise is a gas station servicing travelers off the side of the highway, it is crucial to build yourself a loyal base of clients and customers so that you don't flounder.
We asked three businessmen from different niches to provide some valuable insight. Here are the tips we've culled.
1. Be Honest and Professional
According to Levi Bialestock, vice president of FM Home Loans, an honest reputation is highly important.
"In the mortgage industry, people continuously use a mortgage professional based on reputation. Clients want to feel assured that they are receiving high quality service. By being honest and having the clients' best interests in mind, a solid relationship can be formed between company and client."
2. Consistency is Key
A company can have a great product, but if it doesn't produce consistently, customers will lose faith."In order to accumulate repeat clients, a company needs to constantly provide top-notch service. One earns trust by being consistent." says Bialestock.
"For example - people know that when they buy from Nike, they'll get the same great product over and over again. In whatever you do, make sure to provide a steady service."
3. Don't Be Afraid of Showing Some Corporate Personality
In an increasingly corporate century, with innovators and businesses popping up left and right, it's important to make yourself and your brand memorable. The days of terminal-font websites and garish graphics are over. As technology and real life are beginning to blend - merging into one experience for mankind - so too, our interests are evolving. Our senses are being assaulted from all fronts.
We like bright colors. Punchy statements. Powerful 30-second video clips. Interactive virtual experiences. And who doesn't feel warm and fuzzy inside upon receiving a happy-birthday postcard from the local dentist? Our emotional and visual expectations are at an all-time high. Create an image you want your customers to associate with every time they walk into your shop. Be different than the guy down the block. When you give your clients an experience, they'll want to come again.
4. Be Genuine
Yehoshua Werth, Kosher Liquids Innovator, says, "When we create a space where we are the educators, the innovators and the kind service people, then we are the go-to people for answers and satisfaction. Good advertising and cheap prices don't hurt, but it takes more to make a customer happy. Be the person ready to close the deal. Don't just place bait everywhere, hoping someone bites the line."
And spice up your interactions with some humor. A stern, robotic manner is not going to be conducive for attracting repeat customers. Today more than ever, people crave genuine human compassion. No one will respect you less for being friendly.
5. Take Advantage of Internet Marketing Platforms
Bialestock offers some insight in regard to marketing techniques. "Web advertising is hands-down most effective. Word-of-mouth works for local businesses, but if you're trying to expand out of your 50-mile radius, taking to the web is your best bet."
6. Compete Where You Excel
There will always be competitors providing other products or services that may be similar to yours. It might be tempting to compete with them by offering a lower price or marketing more aggressively, but this will not be enough to maintain sales and grow your business.
Almost every business has unique strengths - it may be in your timeliness, the passion of your representatives, or your innovative problem-solving. Take that strength and accentuate it. Make it your big selling point so that customers understand what they would be giving up if they moved to competitors.
Sam Michelson, CEO of Five Blocks offers the following advice. "Build loyalty by anticipating the needs of your clients and customers. Be a step of ahead of them and offer them solutions and products that they don't yet know they need. In this way you become an advisor who they don't want to live without."
7. Go Global
"If it's wine, taste everything. If it's cars: test drive every car you can. If it's clothing, try pieces on. Walk around town and soak in what you see. Become a master of your art. Set yourself up to win. Act like the whole world is a giant showroom." says Werth.
"Set yourself up to win. After teaching over 450 wine and spirits videos, people have begun to ask me all sorts of questions. This has led directly to classes, speaking engagements, and sales for the store I work at every day. My videos have climbed to the top of Google searches. Never think that no one is watching; just film and release. People will pick up on your passion."
*Liba Rimler contributed to this article.