In today’s business world, your ability to embrace diversity is paramount. Let’s just say that it supersedes your ability to deliver quality products and services. Why?
Because today, quality alone can’t bring you success. Your ability to cater a diverse target market can.
Let me explain.
Diverse clients mean more business
I run an online marketing and publication business offering services for small businesses so that they can get more exposure on social media. My clients are from many countries, made possible by the fact that I deliver my services digitally, which means we don’t have to meet physically to close a deal and/or agreed on a term.
I’ve dealt with any kinds of clients – the ultra generous, the great haggler, the inherently obnoxious, the pleasantly nice, and so on. Add to the complexity, I deal with clients with different culture and language. All of those add up the uncertainty and potential for misunderstanding.
If I insist that I do business my way, I’m sure I won’t survive, because I know that in my line of business, competition is extra-tough: Barrier to entry is very low (anyone can offer something online – Fiverr, anyone?)
I have to offer something differently. Every time. With that being said, I can’t have a price tag; why? It’s because everything is negotiable, depending on who I’m dealing with.
The key in my line of business is negotiation, and it can’t be done effectively if I don’t embrace diversity.
Here’s an example.
I reside in South East Asian region, and it’s easy to assume that I am well-versed dealing with Asian clients. The truth is far from that.
Asian clients are typically good at haggling. They love to negotiate for a lower price. Well, everybody wants a lower price, but my Asian clients are typically VERY good at insisting on a much lower price tag.
Dealing with the clients, I have to reassess the value I offer so that the price tag they want work, as – for some reasons – they don’t mind if I offered them lesser quality of services. For example, if they want me to provide content for them, they don’t mind when I say that I have to outsource to lower quality content writer to make the pricing works.
On the other hand, dealing with clients from US and Europe means that I can provide value and ask a premium on my service. Most of my US and European clients don’t mind my price tag, as long as I deliver them quality.
Dealing with this client, I have to provide extra value in order to beat the competition. I offer something my competitors don’t and – based on their testimonials – it’s actually what they appreciate when offered.
As you can see, my ability to work with diverse clients means so much to my business. I have to continue to hone my communication and negotiation skills with clients from different background, so that I can secure clients while leaving less money on the table when securing them. Too many business owners end up in price wars because they can’t find a way to offer more value and justify their prices. I don’t want to end up like them, to be honest.
How to secure business in a diverse market
I can offer you these practical tips:
1. Templates are so last season. Engage with your customized message!
Don’t use send or reply with a canned email. You need to customize your message depending on the background of your clients.
I remember that recently, I deal with a client from Russia. His email is very concise, and his reply is simply a “yes” or “no.” So, it’s pointless to blabber about your service. What I do is to follow through by offering concise and to-the-point-no-nonsense reply. It worked beautifully.
I’m happy; my client is happy. Win-win.
2. Get to know your clients, aim for a long term business relationship
Be sure to learn as much as possible about your client. You don’t want their one-off money; you want their business and you want to be in it for a long time. For that, you need to build a genuine relationship. Ask where they are from and if they are from a region you are familiar with, start a conversation on that.
Chances are, you can deal for better value, e.g. repeat orders at lower price tags, and build a healthy business relationship when your clients know that you understand their culture, location and habits.
I’m passionate about England, and I happen to meet – via email – this PR girl who happens to be coming from England. She talks so much about England and the culture, so I have this kind of cultural and professional bond with her. I end up giving my marketing service for free, in exchange for an access to valuable PR database she has access to.
I’m happy, the PR girl is happy. Win-win.
3. Respect your clients – regardless of their background
In the online world I’m doing business in, trust is everything. To me, trust can be gained if you show respect to your clients, regardless of their background; I’ve done business with people from many countries with different culture, faith and family background, and I am planning to keep doing so today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow.
I respect the differences – because if I don’t, I have no right to do business in this sector.
You can’t lose if you embrace diversity. It’s true that you need to have a distinct character if you want your business to be successful. But, the ability to work with any kind of clients can be YOUR very own distinct character your competitors can’t have.
So, focus on diversity and don’t just do business with those with similar location, culture and background as yours. Go global and embrace diversity, will ya?
Disclosure: This post has been sponsored by Spark Business℠ from Capital One®, but concerns my own opinion. This is the fifth post in a series of eight.