Monday, July 21, 2008

Expand Your Uniqueness

The best thing you have going for your business and your website is what is unique about you, your business, your people, your product, your methods, your clients. Expanding on that asset is of paramount importance.

The market is flooded with certain kinds of businesses, yet a few really flourish. I think what sets them apart is what sets them apart! It is their uniqueness. It can be your philosophy, your attitude, your vision of what you do and how you do it. It can be your unique approach to how you run your business and how you treat customers so special that they cannot imagine going anywhere else. This is something to celebrate and expand.

Many years ago when I was 30, I opened a musical instrument store in a town of about 30,000 people. There were three other stores in town and yet we did $100k our first year from scratch. Not bad in 1979. How we did this was our unique approach to our store. We had a stage right at the front window and it was set up with all the instruments, amps, mikes, wiring for a rock band (or any other band) to come in and pick up the instruments and begin playing. The instruments were tuned. Everything was ready. It made a great display and we had bands play there when we had special sales.

Another uniqueness was stocking guitar, bass and other strings in serious quantity on a huge display on our wall. We had a string club so each person had a card and received 10% off and every fourth set free. It was very successful. No one had a selection like that for 50 miles and this was long before the Internet. We also focused on students and thereby created regular traffic. With students we would sell them a starter guitar and then offer them a full price credit toward a better instrument if they cared for the one they had. Very few did not take advantage of that deal and we sold a lot of upgrades and then resold the trades. Win-win-win.

Another uniqueness is I became a fan of Ovation guitars and I concentrated on stocking a wide selection of Ovation guitars. I had a better selection that most any store in the state! Needless to say, we did very well with Ovation guitars while still selling several other brands. We did not try to stock a huge number of brands, but just a few good low end guitars and mainly Ovations as our upgrade. We had a couple of other upgrade brands, but not a large selection of them. Ovation had such a large number of models, so that helped a lot and they also made electric solid body guitars back then.

When you are a small store, you can do very well by focusing on a niche or a few niches. I've described a few niches that we focused on in our music store and you can do the same. There's no point trying to be everything to everyone. Even a music store the vast size of Musician's Friend cannot stock everything. The field is too large.

What is unique about you? Your organization? Your products or services? Your method of doing business? Your philosophy of treating customers? Those things will lead you to greater success by focusing on how to make those things known to your marketplace. These are questions we ask every client when we talk about building their website. Forget the competition. There is no competition when you focus on your uniqueness. Chart your own path and ignore the other people that are in your market. Go your own way. Expand on your uniqueness.

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