Play The Long Game: How to Stand Out and Stay Reliable

Looking for a competitive edge to stand out from other distributors? There are many ways to attract prospects and keep your customers loyal. Here are a few tips and tricks you can use to grow profits and your customer base.

Provide Top-Notch Customer Service
Being responsive is integral to building lasting relationships. You are also a consumer and you’ve probably been on hold for what feels like a 30-minute elevator ride with a bell man asking you to take a survey every 3 minutes. Or maybe you’ve anxiously checked your email for an order update. Make it easy for your customers to do business with you by not only being responsive, but being polite, compassionate and communicative. If you don’t know an answer, tell a customer you’ll find one and get back to them and provide an accurate timeline. And lastly, it’s extremely important to admit when there is an error and do what you can to fix the problem. Even if it means taking the blame for something that isn’t your fault. Often, people don’t care whose fault it is, they just want their problem acknowledged and fixed.

Define Clear Service Expectations
Explain what the product can do and be clear about what it can’t do. You never want to over promise. Also, outline your order process. Customers don’t like surprises, so being honest and upfront about timeframes is more important than saying something that sounds good. Additionally, adjust as your business grows and the marketplace changes. Use order systems and technology that’s easy for customers to access and use. Make it simple to place an order with you.

Provide a Guarantee
Talk with everyone at your business about what you consistently do well and form the guarantee around that. You can even run a contest with customers to see if they can help you name it something fun and memorable. Then, create a logo and put it on all your marketing materials. Make the customer feel like a part of the journey in one way or another.

Survey Customers & Make Changes
Customers often want the companies they do business with to listen to them. Consider surveying your customers to see what you did well and where you could improve. Then look at your processes and technology to see how you can apply their feedback into positive changes. Adapting to the needs of your customers will always keep you ahead of competitors who are too lazy to do it!

Stay on Top of Trends
Don’t be the last one to the party. Read blogs and articles and attend industry webinars so you can stay in the know and adjust your product presentations to fit emerging trends. In the age of podcasting, look for podcasts or episodes that can help you stay on top of trends while you commute to work, take the kids to practice or need entertainment for a flight. It’s also a good idea to talk with your supplier partners about supply chain or inventory issues so you can communicate to customers before there is a problem. The more savvy you are in this area, the more your customers will trust you over other distributors.

Align With a Cause
Volunteering and donations are just some of the ways you can get involved in the community. You can consider adopting sustainability initiatives or just partnering with a local awareness group or charity that you like. Customers (and people in general) get a warm fuzzy feeling when they see anyone doing good things. It will improve your brand’s image, but also make YOU and your employees feel good.

Engage With Customers Virtually
Whether you want to start a blog, YouTube channel or kick things up on your social media platforms, these are all ways to engage with your customers. You can use each medium to educate customers on how they can use swag to market themselves or even just keep them in touch with emerging product trends. Remember to respond to every comment and message. Show appreciation that your prospects and customers took the time to reach out and engage with your business. You can also use social media to offer more “behind the scenes” takes and videos to make your business feel more personable to your audience.

Now you know everything you need to do to separate yourself from competitors. Want to know more? Check out our eBook, Strategies for Growing Your Promotional Products Business or learn more about becoming an ASI member and how we can help get your sales soaring.