Let's make something abundantly clear: If you make a bad buying decision, it's because you're a bad consumer and probably lazy to boot.

There are simply too many options to research what the truth of any purchase is, whether that was a bad chicken sandwich or a bad major in college. I'd maintain that the reason that we have so much information today is not that we want it, but that we can get it. The internet is fundamentally free and, when faced with the decision to use something free, we, as humans, always seek to grab all we can.

That works both ways, though. While you, as an entrepreneur, may choose to load up your website and email lists with information, if you still make it hard for the customer to purchase your product or service, then you're doing it wrong.

Why on earth should they have to physically call you or come to your office?

No, we live in a day where radical transparency is the norm and if you, as an owner, don't think the truth will always come out, then you are far behind the times. Your customers are looking on any one of dozens of review sites, they are looking for former or current clients online, they are vetting your testimonials, and they are researching your competition - even if you don't view that company as a competitor.

How can you compete? Well, for starters, understand where you fit in.

Now, some of you will construe what I'm about to say as "niche" or "stay small" but neither is the case at all! No, what you need to do is to understand - and then effectively communicate - the real-time relevance of your business.

In other words, you have to be the best for one particular set of scenarios, not a solution for a variety of scenarios that are close to what the customer is looking for. Case in point - an entrepreneur who owns a bed and breakfast in the Champagne region of France is not - and cannot - compete with a cabin rental in northern California. Two different markets, two different buyers.

Now, in that example, as the owner grows the business to include worldwide lodgings in the premier wine growing regions of the world? Ah, now we can talk about it. In either situation, as an owner, you have to give yourself permission to make your story bigger and to show your customer how - exactly - you and your company are relevant in one particular area in multiple ways.

Our bed and breakfast owner - while still in France - can market the same lodgings to a wide swath of people - not just wine drinkers. Honeymooners? Check. Retirees? Check. Newly minted rich couples? Of course. One point with many target clients.

What this is really about is understanding the market for your products or services and, drilling into that. All the different types of customers who buy from you. Too many times, we think only in terms of a specific avatar - the key buyer - but the real world is that there are 7 billion potential customers on this planet (over 10 billion if we're thinking in terms of B to B, also), so a narrow view of who your buyer is (and where they are) can restrict your growth. Of course, you have to balance this, but the key is understanding that casting a wider net with one solution may yield far greater results than throwing a myriad of solutions to the masses and not being able to execute any of them perfectly.

Published on: Oct 16, 2017