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Compel your customers to return

March 09, 2014

SAN ANGELO, Texas — When starting a business, one of the many questions for the entrepreneur to answer is a basic one.

What would compel your target market of potential customers to stop purchasing from your competitors and start purchasing from you? The compelling reasons must be important to your target market, which are customers most likely to do business with you. Most successful businesses consider only certain groups of people as their target customers. “Everyone” is usually not a realistic target market.

This compelling reasons question is basic, but one not always easy for a startup entrepreneur to answer. I know from assisting many people with business startups, having a good answer to the question is a key success factor for the survivability of a new business.

What is meant by a compelling reason? A compelling reason is part of a competitive advantage. A competitive advantage is basically having a differentiation, or a difference from your competitors that is important to your target customers. In today’s world, most customers have choices where to buy goods and services. In many cases they have numerous choices. In order for customers to seek out your new business you must give them good, compelling reasons to do so.

An example would be an entrepreneur opening a new business supplying a product line in a town that is saturated with similar businesses offering the same product line, and they plan no compelling difference from these competitors but just to open and see what happens. In my view the venture would be headed for trouble. Customers might try it initially, but would find no compelling reason to come back. They just have too many choices, and most likely will revert back to doing business with others.

What are compelling reasons? Compelling reasons can come in many forms and depend on the type of business. Excellent location, good service and relationships, quality products, innovative products, exclusivity of products or service, overall value, or a need not currently offered in the market are all examples of compelling reasons. There are others of course. It is important to remember the reasons must be sustainable over time. Inconsistently managed compelling reasons are not reasons for customers to change their buying habits.

When you are considering opening a business, consider the compelling reasons your target customers would stop doing business with your competitors and do business with you. Are they important reasons to this group? Can you consistently maintain them? Answering this basic question will help you have a sustainable and viable new business.

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    Dave Erickson, ASU-SBDC Director and CBA IV

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