Back when I first started Swish Design a major point of difference was my responsiveness to people. Clients loved how fast I got back to them; morning or night, weekend day or weekday.
Every time someone said to me, ‘Wow, I emailed a graphic designer three weeks ago and still haven’t heard from them,’ this reinforced my belief that uber-responsiveness was a brilliant way to set myself apart from others.
I didn’t stop there, however.
In addition to being super-fast with my responses to emails, I was also super-fast to turn things around.
Did you email me some changes to a flyer this morning? You’ll have the amended file by lunch time.
Want a brand new website up within a week? Yeah, no worries. What’s that you say? Every other designer you asked said it couldn’t be done? Well. I’m not ‘every designer’ am I?
As if the above wasn’t enough to set me apart, there was also the way I charged for my time.
If something only took 5-10 minutes, I never charged for it. Sounds nice, right? And honestly, it would have been fine if I was only doing that for one or two people. But I was doing it for everyone. Even people/clients I barely knew.
Let’s do the math:
10 minutes to do a job
PLUS 10 minutes’ worth of emailing with the person about said job/processing exactly what needs to be done
PLUS 10 minutes’ worth of ‘dead time’ (the time that’s involved with switching from this task to the next)
EQUALS 30 minutes of time that can’t be billed for.
Do 10 of these ‘quick little jobs’ every week (and I was) and that’s nearly 5 hours of unbillable time per week. That’s nearly a whole day!
The reason I resorted to the points of difference above was that they were ‘easy’ for me. I’m fast and efficient so … play to your strengths, right?
The problems with the above, however, are obvious:
You don’t have to do things fast, or immediately.
You just have to do what you say you’ll do.
In a world where we expect to be let down by service providers we don’t have to go above and beyond to set ourselves apart. We just need to set clear expectations, and then deliver on them.
The good thing about this approach is that it’s both replicable and sustainable.
And business building too.
After all, as Michael LeBoeuf points out:
A satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all.