by Shauna Lynn Simon, CEO SLS Academy
Did you know that my business almost failed before it ever really got off the ground? It’s easy to see a business that has been around for years, and assume that it has always been successful, but the truth is that many new businesses struggle, and mine was no exception. In fact, most small businesses fail in the first 5 years!
#1: Identify Your Ideal Client
In the spring of 2010, my dad was experiencing some health issues and found himself in the hospital for about a month. I drove the 3 hours to be with him and my mom and helped out any way that I could. I was back and forth for approximately a month while he was hospitalized, and my business took a back seat.
One day, while I was sitting with my dad, he said something to me that took me by surprise. He said, “You know what honey? You gave it a really good shot, no one can say that you didn’t try.”. I was confused! My dad had always been my biggest supporter, and here he was acting as though I was closing the business and giving up. The truth was though that for the month that I had been helping out him and my mom, there wasn’t exactly anyone missing me and my business. That certainly gave me pause, and I decided to do a little reflecting. I knew that I wanted to be a home stager, and I knew that I was good at it, so when my dad was released I headed home and went back to the business plan to see what I could be doing to grow my business. When I had initially created my business plan, I had identified my ideal clients as homeowners and real estate agents. While that was technically correct, it was not nearly specific enough.
This was where my marketing was failing. When you market to everyone, you market to no one. You need to dive deep and determine specifically who your homeowners and real estate agents are – only then can you identify what they will value, and how to craft your marketing message for them.
What characteristics do they have? And what in turn do they want from you?
Let’s take real estate agents for example:
- Do they work for a large brokerage or a small one?
- Are they an individual agent, or a part of a team?
- How long have they been in business?
- What is their personality?
- What other characteristics do they convey?
You may not have specific answers to all of these questions, but this should give you a guideline of the types of criteria that you w
ill want to examine in determining your target homeowners. This is probably one of the hardest things to do in your business, but it is also the most critical, or everything else that follows is challenging. By identifying who your ideal client is, you will be better equipped to find them. This is not to say that you will not provide services for other clients as requested, but it will allow you to better focus your marketing plan.
Once you understand who your client is, and what their needs are, you can position yourself and your company accordingly. This will
affect everything from how you brand your company, to the events that you attend, where you spend your marketing dollars, and of course, how you set your pricing.
#2 Evaluate Your Value
Now it’s time to do some evaluating. Take some time to reflect on your value, and identify what makes you and your company awesome. This is probably one of the greatest challenges when it comes to building your business – you’ve been taught all your life to be humble and modest, and now you need to be confident and boastful!
Your value is EVERYTHING that you do that enhances the overall experience for your client. Brainstorm, and write down EVERYTHING that comes to mind. Some examples may include:
- Formal training, including continuing education (i.e. events, market research, etc.)
- Registered business
- RESA member (are you a RESA-Pro, or a member of leadership?)
- A Client Care Package
- The Staging Risk Management (SRM) policy option
- A photo prep service
- A team of home staging professionals
Do not limit yourself to the above list. Even if other home stagers are offering these same value-points, it does not take away from the value that it provides to YOUR clients, and it helps to define your company’s overall brand. Remember, what makes you valuable is not just the services that you provide every day, but it also includes how you got to your level of expertise. Reflect on the path that you took to get to where you are today, and make that a part of your story.
Value doesn’t need to cost you a ton of money – if you feel that you are coming up short for where you want to be in your market, look at what may be added to your services for little to no cost, such as the SRM policy, a Client Care Package, or a unique upsell/upgrade service option.
#3 Create Your Value Proposition
A value proposition is a statement that summarizes why a client should buy from you. This is your foundation for creating your marketing material and will help you to establish your unique selling position (USP). Ask yourself these two important questions:
- Why am I here?
- What do I bring to the table that no one else does?
Identify how you solve your client’s problems. Be as specific and concise as possible for this. What makes you different and unique?
#4 Communicate your value
Now that you have identified what makes you valuable, and what makes you unique, you need to communicate this effectively to your clients and prospects.
Start with your mission statement – if you don’t have one yet, create one, and share it on your website and other promotional materials.
Review your logo – does it portray the image and brand that you want it to?
Your value points should be noted on your website, on printed promotional materials, and in your communications. Create bite-sized videos answering questions about your company’s processes, about your training, and more. Update your internal intake forms to list your value points so that you remember to note these items as a part of your initial call with clients. And most importantly, LIVE YOUR VALUE. The best and easiest way to communicate what your company stands for is to live it every day.
Ready to take your business to the next level? SLS Academy’s Business of Staging course provides you with the business strategies that you need to operate a successful and thriving home staging business. From setting your pricing and policies to sales techniques, understanding today’s buyers, and what motivates them. We will walk you through the steps that you need to take to create your business plan, plus we will help you to identify your mission statement, understand your value proposition, and run the day-to-day business. PLUS, you will get the tools and templates that you need to make running your business easier, allowing you to spend your days assisting your clients. We will even teach you proven sales techniques and strategies to help you to close more deals, and keep your cash flow…well…flowing. Learn more and get started today by clicking here.