USP

A Low Cost Way to Improve your Small Business Brand

Most small business owners know that sustainability is a concern to many consumers and can affect your small business brand.

While no business is going to claim not to be sustainable, it helps if you can point to actual things you are doing in this area.

The Small Business Brand as USP

Being “green” isn’t going to be a complete USP for most companies these days. But if you are in one of the few remaining industries that doesn’t concern itself with sustainability, then it might help.

Faced with two seemingly otherwise equal choices, most consumers will choose the small business brand that appears more sustainable.

Simple Small Business Brand Options

One easy and low cost way to make your small business brand more sustainable is to switch to green energy. Fortunately, these days you can buy sustainably sourced energy from many power companies. That’s much easier than trying to install solar cells or wind turbines.

Then you can tell your customers, employees and anyone else likely to care that your business is helping to save the planet and so on, increasing your small business brand.

In most cases, green energy isn’t going to cost much more than conventional. In fact, it might be one of the most inexpensive small business brand improvements you can do.

Said one retailer:

Yeah, it costs us a little bit extra to do these good things, but I think it helps our bottom line. Employee-retention rates are high and customers are more loyal.

In addition to local press, businesses that reach these sustainability goals may make it on to the EPA’s list of companies that choose renewable power. Official logos are usually good to improve a small business brand.

Source:

Green Power: A Low-Cost Boost to Your Brand and Bottom Line

Comments:

Sustainability can be a tricky subject. Take building supplies for example. You won’t find a product that doesn’t claim to be more sustainable. Concrete is one of the dirtiest, most energy intensive processes out there. But then well laid concrete will last indefinitely. Wood on the other hand, is infinitely renewable but we build with it intending for it to last only 50 years.

Another relevant example is the car battery. Electric and hybrid cars claim sustainability based on extremely low gas mileage. But then if you consider the production cost of manufacturing a hybrid battery and its disposal, it becomes one of the least sustainable vehicles there are.

Sustainability and The Small Business Brand

Those two examples look at sustainability from the cradle-to-cradle paradigm. It’s important to consider the energy it takes to bring a product to market as well as its disposal. Consumers are becoming more aware of such issues even if it doesn’t seem that it would be immediately relevant to your bottom line.

All that’s to say that paying a little bit more for your energy might make sense financially too when it comes to customer satisfaction, employee retention and improving your small business brand.

Keeping Small Business Ideas Fresh

Keeping Small Business Ideas Fresh

There was an article today on bringing the spark back to your small business ideas.

Small Business Ideas versus Burnout

The first point was to clarify that we’re not talking about burnout. Getting bored or tired of your own small business ideas is a sure way to see the business be stuck at lukewarm and eventually fail. If that’s the case, then you need to reconsider why you got into business in the first place.

If it’s lack of clarity about the small business ideas themselves, then the advice was to reconnect with the unique selling proposition (or form one if it hadn’t already been defined). If you can’t answer why people should do business with you, then your customers probably can’t either and might find someone that can.

A solid USP means that you do something better or different than your competitors. And for the most part, that shouldn’t be as a low cost provider unless you like getting squashed by Wal-Mart or Amazon.

Your business’ branding is all about what existing and prospective customers think when they see or hear about your company. It comes from a number of things: your products and services, your physical presence, advertising, packaging, online appearance, reputation, logo and company name.

There were also a number of small business ideas given on various USPs including excellent customer service, serial innovation, and specialization.

More Small Business Ideas on Keeping It Fresh

Perhaps not coincidentally, the Small Business Administration is offering a webinar this week on keeping small business ideas fresh. It’s Thursday, April 26th, 2012 at 1pm ET. If you’ve missed it by the time you read this, they’ll probably have other webinars that might interest you.

Sources:

Ways to bring a little spark back into the business

SBA’s April Web Chat to Focus on Keeping Business Ideas Fresh

Comments:

The Unique Selling Proposition is arguably the most important factor for small business ideas. Once that’s worked out, everything else flows from there. A clear, strong USP would preclude ever needing to keep it fresh.

Customers would become raving fans and that’s exciting in itself. A USP may not seem as sexy as say, getting mobile devices and apps rolled out, but in the end, without a USP you’d find there weren’t clear small business ideas to communicate in the social media sphere anyway.

A Competitive Advantage Is Essential

In doing research for a client this week, I found something strange is going on.

I called a number of debt settlement companies and found that they’re basically all doing the exact same thing.

I called 5 of the largest companies and asked them all what their fees were and what made them better or different than the other companies in their industry. I selected these 5 because they have the largest numbers of International Association of Professional Debt Arbitrators.

Most of them charge 15% and a couple charge a monthly fee on top of that.

When asked what they do better, they all pointed to their size and how much debt they’d settled recently. One had stats on customer satisfaction and another said they exclusively used attorneys for negotiations. I’m not sure whether credit card companies care that they’re talking to an attorney or not. A settlement is a settlement and my understanding is they look at the past history of the account, the person’s ability to pay and what kinds of quotas they need settled.

Another company bragged that they were the most expensive and the Mercedes of the debt settlement industry. When pressed, they didn’t have a good answer as to why they were charging more though.

One company even told me they settle 80% of all the consumer debts that get settled. I clarified to make sure he wasn’t meaning they settle for 20 cents on the dollar. No, he meant they settle 80% of the debts. He said they settled $30 million last month. I said I’d just spoken to a company that claimed to have settled $27 million and so $30 million couldn’t possibly be 80%. He didn’t have a response for that.

How do you become the top 5 companies in an exploding industry without a clear competitive advantage? I supposed there’s so much business out there right now that they’re getting by just fine without one.

One of these days some company is going to come up with something that’s going to obliterate the competition once consumers start shopping around. It’s not always going to be like shooting fish in a barrel.

For now, being able to document a high customer satisfaction and be friendly on the phone make you the clear winner.

PS. If you’re looking for debt settlement services, the company that had the high customer satisfaction rating was also the only company to not try hard sales tactics on me. If I were in the market for debt settlement, I’d call Marty at Freedom Debt Relief. His direct line is 1-800-544-7211 x16277.