What I learned from Starbucks and incorporated into my Web Design Business

Starbucks is great!  Not only do I use Starbucks to meet my clients, but the location is great for getting work done.  Not to mention enjoying a cup of brew to keep me a saint from working long hours.

While spending a lot of my time in this successful coffee shop, I have also learned a great deal of business.  Therefore, incorporating their business tricks into my own brand has been a smart move.

  • Starbucks knows their target market and how to advertise attracting this particular market.  They take pride in keeping potential customers informed about what’s currently offered for sale or on promotion.
  • Starbucks is very accessible.  In NYC there is a Starbucks location on almost every corner.
  • A distinguished logo which is visible from far away and all of their locations are precisely listed on Google Maps, so finding the locations is even easier.
  • Entering a Starbucks is always clean and cozy.
  • All products are properly marked with pricing.
  • Starbucks employees are properly trained, because they are proactive and ask “May I take your order?” or inquire if I would like more with my order, and offer advice if I seem uncertain with an order.
  • Starbucks employees are clean, professional, and enthusiastic.
  • Starbucks locations always have amenities such as newspapers, free Wi-Fi, suitable music, unlimited time to hang out in their shop, and comfortable places to sit.

Here is how I translated their business practices into my web design business.

1. Find my target market and focus on them.

Starbucks does not target people who cannot afford a “latte” for $10, because that is not their market.  Their market is intellectual people such as booky, techy, educators, freelancers, and writers.  They advertise in places where those people are looking.  What I took from this benchmark is identifying my own target market and find out what media they are using, where they gather, and where they work.  I try to get as much information as possible.  Personally, I target small web design businesses with a strong focus on fashion and entertainment. I attend events organized by my clients (I get invited from time to time) to meet my target market, ask my clients for referral, and advertise on mailing lists for this market.

2. Make myself easily accessible.

Put your phone, fax (does anybody still use one?), email address, and website URL on everything you send out.  Beware that many potential clients will deal with you only if you are physically close to them or their offices.  95% of my clients are local businesses or people who want to be able to call me during office hours to meet face-to-face.  Do not forget to list your business on Google Maps.

3. Be recognizable.

If you have an office, be sure you display a sign in front that potential clients will immediately identify as yours.  Your logo and the name of your business should be easy to distinguish, easy to remember, and stand out from the competitors.  Your URL should be easy to spell and remember, along with your company name too.

4. Make your business bright, clean, and professional.

Even if you work from home, this still applies!  Make sure your business materials look fabulous (letters, proposals, etc.) minus any typos and silly errors.  Make sure your portfolio website is clean and professional.  You do not need to create amazing designs for your own site, but keep things light, white, clean, and professionally aligned.  Dress for your meetings properly, have your laptop clean, trim your nails, and always smell good.

5. State your offer.

You don’t need to specify your exact offer on your website upfront.  However, try to let the client know what range of budgets you are able to work with.  When you create a proposal, always break down all of the expenses into detail, state a clear summary, and the total amount expected to be paid.

6. Ask for the business.

Don’t just send a client a quote, then wait for a response.  Follow up and walk your client though the proposal.  Then request an answer to the question “Would you like us to work on this project with you?”

7. Be positive and professional.

Always be enthusiastic in every circumstance.  Your smile has to be reflected in your emails, phone conversations, and naturally face-to-face meetings.

8. Ask for “follow-up” sales.

Once you are getting close to completing the project, do not hesitate to offer additional services.  It’s a great idea to ask questions such as  “Thank you for the opportunity to complete your site.  Would you like us to maintain it now as well?” or “When your site is live, I would like to show you how we can help drive traffic to your new site.”  Finishing the development of the site, and getting the site live should be just the beginning of a business relationship.  Make sure to offer tech support, advertising, and additional services.

9. Provide additional values.

Always do more than you agreed to do.  Make sure you tell clients you’ve given them free bonuses services, including extra pages, a few months free hosting, an hour of free SEO 101 training, and designing social media pages etc.

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