At New York Entrepreneur Week 2011 we heard several inspiring presentations. One of the presentations we heard was from pianist Eric Lewis – ELEW. Lewis' piano playing is a fusion of rock and jazz. It's not just the melodic tones of jazz, nor is it the grinding tones of rock music; it's a beautiful blend. What was inspiring about the presentation he weaved into his piano playing was he told us that his business really grew when he thought of how could he differentiate himself from other pianists.
Most pianists sit on a bench as they perform. Lewis, however, stands and positions his legs in ways that you have probably never seen a pianist do. He also has bright, shiny armor on his arm, which attracts the attention of photographers.
What does this have to do with technology?
If you are looking for ways to differentiate yourself from the competition, consider how you can use technology to stand out. Keep in mind that lawyers, accountants, designers, programmers, marketing gurus and many other professions are NOT unique. They are all relatively basic and it's hard to tell one company from the next. Your prospective and current customers probably don’t know how YOU are different than your competition.
However, using technology is one way YOU can be different. Here are a few examples of what technology can do for you:
- Create a portal of information so that your clients can easily measure how much money they have spent with you, what you have done and the benefits they've received.
- Remind clients to come in for a quarterly and FREE discussion in how they can further improve their business with your services. Use an automated CRM system to do this.
- Encourage customers to submit videos of themselves speaking about their complimentary expertise. For example, if you are a graphic design, why not encourage your printing friends to submit video posts about tips in printing?
- Enabling customers who could benefit from one another is easy to do with technology. Why not have small networking meetings focused on various industries? Have a meeting all about small business law and have it hosted by two or three of your law clients.
These are just four simple ideas in how you can leverage technology to easily differentiate yourself from your competition.
If you run out of ideas, think about how larger companies are leveraging technology to be different and save time, save money and boost productivity in using technology.
I recently had a problem with my Verizon FIOS telephone service. I called their phone support number and as expected was greeted by a computer. However, I was pleasantly surprised that “she” (the computer lady) ran diagnostic tests on my line and fixed the problem. There was no human intervention. Verizon saved a lot of money by not having a human answer my phone call, but they also enforced a relationships with another customer (me), by quickly solving my problem.
A few years ago I was expecting a delivery from UPS. Unfortunately, I had to leave my house but I needed the delivery before I left. I called UPS and they allowed me to meet the driver a few blocks away from my house, as he was making another delivery. They used technology to delight a customer.
You don’t have to be a large, multi- million dollar company to leverage technology. All it takes is the ability to LISTEN to your customers’ needs and be willing to meet them.
Take a note from Lewis and leverage physical differentiations as well. Lewis' clothing and appearance caused him to stand out against other pianists. But remember that when you’re very busy, technology can help you do more with less.