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4 Principles to Become the Preferred Provider in Your Area You are unlikely to ever have a monopoly in your market but you have every chance to be the first business your customers think of.

By Wendy Keller

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Chances are good that you are not the only provider of your services or products in the world. Maybe not even in your city. Maybe not even on your block.

Unlike the old days when there was only one blacksmith in town, you have competitors. Back then, it didn't matter what the blacksmith's shop looked like. He could charge what he liked. He could be grumpy or smell bad or drool while he worked. Now, your customers have every possible option for how to acquire goods or services similar or identical to yours. They can choose the provider they like most, and they are unlikely to stay loyal to you unless you really make them feel special.

When you become the preferred provider in your space, you end up with customers waiting in line (even if they're online) to buy from you.

My friend Nido Qubein asks, "What's the difference between Hershey's Kisses and Godiva? They're both chocolate."

The answer: branding. Think about that for a moment. People pay far more for the Godiva than the Hershey's, but technically they're both chocolate.

Related: 5 Ways to Make It Rain Referrals

"Branding" is how you present your product or service. It is also how you deliver on your promise to your customer, and how you proclaim your success to your prospects.

When you position yourself to become the Godiva in your space, you can command higher prices and attract more business more easily. You will be paid more for basically the same effort, thus increasing your revenues without a commensurate additional level of effort.

The internet has opened the world up to you and your potential customers. My company's excellent bookkeeping firm is three-states away, something I could never have considered a decade ago. Your customers have almost unlimited choice. They can buy directly from China or Poland themselves off eBay. They can put data in the cloud and employ a virtual assistant in the Philippines. Even in the case of physical services, depending on where the next biggest town is, they may have more choices than you even think they do.

And they can decide fast. Your website loading too slowly? Looking hokey? They sent an email and it took you too long to respond (in their opinion) and poof! They've disappeared. It is the Age of the Consumer and as a person with a side gig that you want to have generate more money, there are four principles that you'll just have to adapt to if you plan to achieve your fair share of the available money.

Principle One: Under promise and over deliver, every time, no matter what. This may mean taking a few losses until you and your people learn to deliver to the highest standards every time.

Related: 6 Barriers to Referral Success

Principle Two: Do what you say you will, when you say you will do it. A friend of mine built her multi-million-dollar company on this one principle. The customer doesn't care what your excuses are, whether you are American Airlines, Taco Bell or the florist down the street. Inconvenience yourself before you ever inconvenience any customer.

Principle Three: Treat everyone well. Even the difficult, unfair, unreasonable customers. Have a rock solid return policy. The customer is always right, even when they aren't, especially as you are growing your business.

Principle Four: Make an indelibe first impression. Follow it with simple, easy, thoughtful, personal service and you will create massive amounts of customer loyalty…and customer loyalty generates dollars. Your website, your business card, your own appearance and that of your people and equipment, if you have any, will make the difference.

These components will help you quickly build a position of dominance in your product or service category, regionally or online. Just 5 percent extra effort can make you 100 percent more desirable as a provider.

You may say, "Hey, it's just me. I'm one busy person. How can I do all this?" The answer to your question: "Feel the fear and do it anyway" because when you do, you grow faster and move into the position of preferred provider, with all the benefits of influence and affluence that come with it.

Related: How Airbnb and Dropbox Achieved Tremendous Growth With Referral Marketing

For more information on becoming the preferred provider in your area, join the upcoming webinar "Supersize Your Side Gig: How to Make More Money From Whatever You Do To Make More Money."

Wendy Keller is the author of the upcoming book Ultimate Guide to Platform Building (Entrepreneur Press, November 2016) and the host of the webinar "Supersize Your Side Gig: How to Make More Money from Whatever You Do to Make More Money". Click here to find out more.

Wendy Keller

CEO and Founder of Keller Media, Inc.

Wendy Keller is an award-winning former journalist, a respected literary agent, an author, speaker, acclaimed book marketing consultant, and branding expert. She is the author of Ultimate Guide to Platform Building (Entrepreneur Press®, 2016) and got her first job as a newspaper reporter as a 16-year-old college freshman. Since then, Wendy worked for PR Newswire; the Knight-Ridder newspaper chain; as managing editor of Dateline magazine; and as associate publisher of Los Angeles’ then-second-largest Spanish language weekly, La Gaceta. She works with authors, speakers and business experts to help them build and promote their brands. She founded Keller Media, Inc. in 1989.

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