Positioning yourself – your expertise and your business as the one and only option.
How do you position yourself as an expert or should I say – THE EXPERT?
First what I learnt From The Salon business on positioning and how it changed everything... And how positioning yourself as an expert can change things for you!
In May 1989 I opened my first high-street hairdressing business. Of course it wasn’t my ‘first’ business, I had been in the business of making money for years.
My very first business was when I was around 10-years old. I had discovered that my pals all like to almost destroy their bikes on the old railway and I could get paid to make them look cool again. I painted, I got paid, I didn’t realise it then but people brought their bikes to me and me only. I was positioned as an expert!
Then in my early teen years I found an old sewing machine in the attic and played around using it. My dad was a prison warden; all the wardens got new uniforms where the trousers were always way too long. I worked out how to alter and shorten the trousers using this old sewing machine. I altered dads and dad told all the guys at work I could do it for them. Prison wardens would bring their new trousers to our home for me to fix. I was again positioned as the only option – I had positioned myself without knowing.
Finally I got something I never really like and have since grown a huge allergy to – A JOB!
Without a doubt the most restrictive processes I have ever been through. I got fired everywhere and can make a claim to being absolutely totally unemployable – thank God!
SO BACK TO POSITIONING YOURSELF
Lets go to back to 1989 and my first real brick and mortar high-street business. I knew this –
I had very good skills at the time, I believed they were good enough to have the crowds flocking to my new salon for a haircut or color.
Day one of the opening was truly uneventful with just 2 clients and a huge flood. That left the remaining 6 hours in the salon to sit and get excited about the big rush. It never happened.
Day two was pretty much the same, day three, week four and week five and beyond.
A LACK OF POSITIONING PUT ME IN TROUBLE
I knew I had a good service to sell but I had no idea about marketing. Very quickly things would have to change or I would be looking for something alien to me called a ‘job’!
It was around this time I stumbled across a book called, Guerilla Marketing by Jay Conrad Levinson. I’d read nothing before. This book changed everything!
One of the first things I discovered was how to stand out, how to be different, how to make an offering that was better or create a perception of being better than everyone else.
This is what I call POSITIONING YOURSELF… or what is the position you and your business taking in the marketplace?
I was in a town that had 35 salons, how was I going to make mine stand out? How could I make my salon the number one choice? How could I present us as the experts?
Some of these salons had been in the town for over 30 years. I was a new kid on the block and had no idea what to do! This was a time I really had to over-haul my business (in a time when most walk away and close) but I did it very successfully.
Here are some of the steps I personally took on my salons and copied into every business I have had since including Orange Beetle.
POSITIONING FIRST IMPRESSION: How would I be seen through eyes only? The first impression to everyone and anyone is visual… I worked hard on the visuals so when clients saw my salons they knew without reading a single word we meant business. I installed new signs, new paint, new uniforms, and new everything. I created a visual feast for my clients with at least 94 ways I can list on paper but there were far more. The visual positioning was now stronger than ever before and far stronger than any other of the 35 salons in the town.
POSITIONING PRICING: double and in some areas tripled the price of ALL services. This gave me an instant position of being the best due to price perception. I knew and understood that price has an associate and that is perception. I knew anything that had a high price tag would be seen as ‘the best’ so I ramped up the quality and then added to the price. This again gave me a position of power.
POSITIONING IMAGE: created an image that was not only anti-hairdressing but was the exact opposite to what all the other salons were looking like then. For example ALL salons staff wore uniforms – I banned them in my salon and gave my team cash to buy Friday nightclothes for work. The daily image would be the one thing that couldn’t be hidden away so it became an obsession for me that the LOOK for everything and everyone had a critical level attached to it. I wanted us to make sure we were always positioning as experts and this was a huge to unlock that.
POSITIONING SERVICES: I dropped the most common services and renamed all of the existing services. Whilst everyone was busy creating their regular cut and blow services I have invented a new service for the town called the ‘All New Redesign Service’. This enabled us to charge DOUBLE our fees and be perceived and positioned as the only option for redesigning hair!
POSITIONING MARKETING: I created a unique guerilla campaign that infuriated the town’s salons (in fact it created a hate campaign from the other salons that went on for years) but made us the number one salon in the town. To create master positioning I knew we had to be seen everywhere by everyone endlessly with no let up. I had a plan that insisted at least 15 major marketing components were done DAILY. We handed out at least 1000 flyers daily and that was just one tiny part of what we did.
For the 17-years in that salon you could walk past any day, any hour and easily see the salon was packed from day to night even whilst the other older more established salons were empty, struggling and doing the same old thing.
At the time I loved it.
No question we had created an expert positioning within a short period of time and the results were easy to see at the time.
Here’s a few guerilla tactics I employed and made huge amounts of cash from.
- Free hairdressing
- Free services
- Free consulting
- Direct mail
- New services
- Joint Ventures
- Piggy Back Marketing
- Newspaper ads
- PR stunts
- Referral program
- Season vouchers
- And more
POSITIONED AS EXPERTS – THE ONLY OPTION
There was more of course a lot more but the point being this. Everything we did was planned to give us a strong positioning, a position of power, a perception of difference and a unique place in a very crowded marketplace.
It worked, it really did work on a level that allowed me to create a business that delivered number one services and become the number one choice in a small town with 35 salons.
That same energy I transferred into Orange Beetle my copywriting and direct response marketing and consulting company.
The aim was the same -
- POSITIONING AS THE BEST
- POSITIONING AS THE ONLY OPTION
- POSITIONING AS THE MUST-HAVE-EXPERT
To be the only choice for clients that want only the best and nothing but the very best!
In my first year as a copywriter I had worked with Jay Abraham and was writing copy for mostly premium clients. How? Well I can tell you it didn’t happen by chance!
My route was to take the opposite stance to everyone else in the business because I felt and knew that the others weren’t delivering on what they said they were doing.
POSITIONING 3 ROUTES!
- Same as everything –everyone else (price war)
- Slightly different (too many options and still price driven)
- Visible extremely different (for this you need to work hard on increasing your toolkit and skillsets)
- Image reflects this
- Service list
- Your approach to your clients mind reflects this
- Prices reflects this
- Results and delivery reflects this
- And more
My expert positioning is as follows
- I am different to work with
- I am the best
- I am an expert
- I am the best option
- I am not cheap
- I only work with certain types
- I know what I am doing
- I take no prisoners
- I will deliver
- My fee reflects my expertise
- I sell results not services
- Services renamed
- Contract was extreme
- Asked clients not to get in touch if they didn’t have the funds
POSITIONING MYSELF HIGH – HOW ABOUT YOU?
Lets go over positioning again from a buyers perspective.
If you type in services like yours online (copy/consulting etc) you’ll find a million and one businesses like yours providing almost the same services as yours.
Go through each one and you’ll quickly notice they are all almost the same. Read the words, look at the images, the layout the tone of their websites.
Contact them and get a quote, see how they act, respond and treat your potential business. Then look at how they treat you. Do the same with the million and one other businesses out there that all look, feel and sound the same.
What you’ll find is the same disappointment as what the clients are finding when they search for those same services or ... an approach you can learn from and discover from.
Back to your buyers perspective again then!
- What will your buyer’s reaction be to your presentation or how you present your business?
- Will they see anything different?
- Are you doing anything different?
- Can you be anything different?
- Do you have a position of power and strength that gives you the edge in seconds?
- Have you positioned yourself as an expert – THE EXPERT and only option?
POSITIONING YOURSELF AS AN EXPERT – THINK THIS THROUGH …
- What you have decided is your stance or position on things?
- How will you portray that stance?
- What impression will your new buyers get by just looking at your company?
- How will your message portray your position?
- How will you speak to your prospects?
- How will you name your services?
- What are you offering them in your position?
- What is your pricing approach?
- Why does what you offer sound and look different?
- Can you back up what you are saying?
- The position you are taking in your business – why?
- The unique angle you have in your marketplace– why?
- At least five reasons why you will be the first and only option– why?
- Your image (perception) in detail– why?
- Your elevator speech (again to refine) – why?
- Your approach to pricing– why?
You might think you are the only option but let me tell you - you are not. In this fast world everything marketing has changed and never in history has position played a more important part in your business.
Positioning is everything.
Expertise is everything. Perception is everything. And if you think that doing the same old marketing or same old thing is going to keep you where you are right now – you are wrong.
It might be tomorrow, it might be next month, it could be in 6 months or in a year but believe it when I say your competition are coming and heading your way fast. They won’t sneak up, not these days, they will appear over night and be looking to devour you.
Take a car for example. It might be easy to sweep away a cheap car over night with another cheap car but do you think it is easy to sweep a BMW from it’s position?
So now is a time in business that is like no other. Engagement has to be engaging. Horizontal has to become vertical and almost everything you are doing right now should be reviewed, refund to position yourself as en expert.
Are you doing that?
If not – you are in danger.
If you’d like myself to help you create the best business position you have ever had in your life you know how to get me.
Your bearded positioning warrior
Alan Forrest Smith