I recently had the benefit of attending a very intriguing keynote by Robert Stephens, founder of Geek Squad. I know Geek Squad is the ultimate MSP competitor, but there are actually a lot of things service providers can learn from the bootstrapping he did to build his empire from practically nothing.
Here are 4 clever lessons from the ultimate geek himself to help you separate yourself from the competition without breaking the bank.
“When you have no money for marketing, everything you do is marketing.”
Marketing is not just about email or social media or having a nice website. Many small business owners forget about one of the most influential marketing tactics: BRANDING.
When you think about branding, think about this: What do you want people to think of when they hear your company’s name or see your logo? What kind of perception do you want people have of you? That you’re helpful, friendly, or credible? Everything you do is a reflection of who you are and what you stand for, including:
- The car or truck you take to a client’s site
- The greeting you answer the phone with
- The uniforms (or lack thereof) that you and your employees wear
- The people you hire (their level of knowledge and professionalism)
This list is certainly not exhaustive, but these are things that play a big role in your image. It’s kind of like being a celebrity. Fans (or in your case, customers) will create a perception of you based on what they hear, see, or read about your latest actions. If you asked your customers what comes to mind when they think of your business, what would they say?
A lot of people think that in order to stand out you have to be inventive and do something totally memorable and out of the box. Unfortunately, it’s just not practical. Smart business owners steal great ideas and make it their own.
Here’s the key, though – look for ideas outside of your own industry. Great ideas come from places you’d least expect them. When you apply concepts that worked well in one industry into a new environment, magical things can happen. Here are some examples Stephens talked about when he first started his business:
- Stolen Genius #1 – Stephens wondered how a company such as UPS could have such a powerful brand image by basically trademarking the color brown. What he realized is that UPS is so recognizable because their trucks are like moving billboards. At the time he couldn’t afford a nice car, so he purchased an old classic car to add his logo to. This did 2 things for him. First, it stood out. Second, it made him drive slower, inadvertently exposing more people to his brand. Talk about great branding, for cheap.
- Stolen Genius #2 - Watching the movie Apollo 11 one day, the idea for Geek Squad’s iconic white button down & black tie uniform hit him hard. The uniform worn by NASA space station scientists was just what he was looking for. It was completely different from his competitors, cheap to purchase, and created the level of intelligence he wanted people to perceive of his employees.
Your next great idea could strike at any time. If you see something cool, take a picture or cut it out of the newspaper or magazine and save everything in a folder for the next time you need inspiration.
Break the rules while obeying it at the same time
There are best practices and then there’s breaking boundaries. At ConnectWise, we preach best practices a lot. Why? Because you shouldn’t waste your time trying to reinvent something that’s been done by thousands of others before you.
Having said that, just because the majority has labeled a process a best practice, doesn’t mean it’s the only way to do it. Innovation comes from breaking the mold. If it doesn’t make sense for your business, try something new. You never know, one day your unique practice could become the next ‘best practice.’
Don’t take yourself too seriously
This one is hard for a lot of people. Business is serious. There’s money and people’s livelihood on the lines. And you want to come across as professional and credible to your customers. But you’re also human. And so are your customers.
They say laughter is the best medicine, but studies have shown that while children laugh over 300 times a day, adults only laugh somewhere between 4-20 times a day. As we grow older and gain more responsibility everything becomes so serious. That’s why we all enjoy a good YouTube video of a dog pushing a cat into a bathtub to break up our day with a few good laughs.
Somewhere along the line someone made a rule that said all businesses have to be serious and talk seriously to their customers. If you’re among this mindset, you need to read #3 again.
You don’t HAVE to follow the pack – in fact, being unique may make you stand out more. Give your customers something to laugh or smile about. If your customer only laughed a handful of times in a day, wouldn’t you want to be the cause of one of those moments?
This post was brought to you by ConnectWise, the world’s #1 business automation tool for technology service providers. If you’d like to learn more about how ConnectWise can improve your business, sign up for a Live Demo, or if you prefer, receive a Personalized Demo specifically tailored to your company’s needs.