5 Ways to step out of the crowd and claim your customers in the market Have you ever heard any of the quotes "It's hard to get new customers", "My profits are declining”, “There is no way a business can survive with the current economy”? Things we hear over and over again, while shockingly we find fast food restaurants like McDonalds and Arabiata El Shabrawy, restaurants like Spectra and Roastery, supermarkets like Carrefour and Saudi, Coffeeshops like Cilantro and Coffeeshop Company, Gas Station markets like On The Run, and training and testing centers like AmidEast and YAT are crowded with customers like a bus station at 8 AM!! Although the above examples are for businesses in relatively narrow markets, later on I’ll provide examples of relatively new and modest businesses that are starting to boom in Egypt. So, what can we do in order to step out of the businesses waiting line and attract the customers that are rightfully ours? Below are 5 great ways to do so: 1. Providing a Unique Selling Proposal (USP): In a nutshell, a USP is something that you offer while your competition doesn’t! A USP can be done in numerous ways and here are few examples: Money back guarantees: best suits info-businesses such as training centers and infoproducts, where if you are not satisfied within a prescribed period, you can stop the training or can return the product and get your money back. My personal experience was with Lucid Training where they do provide such guarantee. Of course this wouldn’t suit restaurants as you can’t take back digested food! Higher Quality products with warrantees: in Mobileshop and Computershop you can buy products slightly more expensive than the conventional computer malls while maintaining a more secure purchase atmosphere. I had 3 incidents in Computershop involving an external HD 1 month before warranty expired, a wireless Microsoft Desktop on the same day, and a Portable Tablet. In all incidents, I was offered the original money I paid (even though the product got cheaper by the time I’ve returned it), to replace the product with another one and pay or get the difference, or to get another product of the same type instead. I had the same situation with an el Sakhawy computer mall where a HD had severe bad sectors only after 5 months. It took the shop 2 months to return it after reformatting it saying there is nothing wrong with it. I took it back home and the same old bullshit started to happen again. Went back and after 3 months they agreed that I can replace it after I pay 20 pounds more because the HD prices have!!! Have you ever heard a HD prices that increase after 5 months except due to a major catastrophe happening in some factory abroad, where prices increase dramatically and not just by 20 pounds. If any of the 3 cases happened to me in el Sakhawy, I would be glad if they let me get out of the mall in one piece!! Making a unique image in your market: a lot of shops sell jewelry and artifacts, cheap and expensive ones, but how many of them match Khan El-Khalili and El-Hussein in their prospects? The thing is that, although unintentionally and unofficially announced, Khan El-Khalili and El-Hussein are positioned in the market as “preserving the Egyptian culture”. When you are known for this, tourists and locals tend to buy from you for souvenirs or due to intellectual reasons as they are either interested about your culture or they want to buy souvenirs. However, beware of Anti-USPs as they will do more harm than good. Anti-USPs are the inability what you promise. Such actions usually backfire as they would leave you with less customers than those you would have gained without a USP at the first place. 2. Neatness and Cool Style: About the looks, If you go to a jewelry store with pieces placed on a shelf like body bags in a morgue, you won’t have the same enthusiasm to buy compared to the case when the special pieces are placed over an elegant stand and under a sexy and appealing light system. What about the information? Well, if you put a delicate and elegant ticket on each peace describing it’s price, weight and type of materials used, and a historical background about how the shape was originated, that might give a strong boost for purchase. Particularly, for people who appreciate origins and relevance to cultures and civilizations even if the piece was just a replica of an original piece. The same thing can be done to modern style jewelry but relating it to your own brand and your own vision and inspiration that led for its design. 3. Bonuses, Bonuses and …. Bonuses While some people prefer to classify bonuses as a type of USP, I prefer to put them in a different category. This is due to the fact that while a USP is usually a long-term marketing strategy and sometimes considered as a company’s policy, bonuses do change faster from time to time depending on the profits and products. Here are few insights for attractive bonuses: Percentage discounts on the next purchase or course enrollment if the customer purchase exceeds a specific value. Give a relevant book, small auxiliary course as a free bonus to the original purchase. Make a membership card after specific values/times of purchase that would give that loyal customer a whole year modest discount. You can also charge annual fees for customers who wish to buy memberships. Give customers with special community status a special discount in return for their recommendations or testimonials. Giving discount gift certificates to other businesses that would complement your products/services while they do the same to you. Of course this is done through agreement with the other business owner or marketing manager. This is called crosspromotion. And the list goes on and on … 4. Establishing your own unique brand: Another great idea is to brand your products in a different manner and divide them into new and different categories. This can be specially seen in Cilantro café which was originally established by creative entrepreneurs Maher Maksoud and Nader Lahzee. From a quaint and cozy store little shop in Zamalek in the year 2000, it now has more than 50 branches in Egyptian cities, Jordan, Kuwait, and London!!! This is simply because branding yourself in the right attractive manner (of course along with big profits) gives you the opportunity of people approaching for franchising. 5. Niche marketing: Niche marketing is to confine your business in a very narrow market place (or niche). While some people view this as a profit declining policy, others view it as a more profitable approach. Personally I’m learning towards the second opinion because of 2 reasons: Niche marketing is intended for a well defined specific type of customers that you can discover their cravings and aversions, seek and know where to find and how to attract them rather than spreading yourself thin and trying to reach out to a whole population. Choosing a niche makes it easier to specialize. Hence produce higher quality products, find better personnel and easier to brand yourself. It actually supports all of the 5 points we discussed earlier and makes them easier to implement. A good example of niche marketing is Batates and Zalabya booths that in a couple of years had gained popularity and were spread all over Cairo, maybe even other cities I’m not sure though. I hope these few tips can help you in elevating your profits’ situation. Would love your feedback telling me what you think about them and how did they helped you when you implement them.