On this episode of The Know, Like & Trust Show, host Britney Gardner dives into the idea of moving from “nice to have” to “must have” in your business. She discusses how great content is essential to getting your audience to care about your product or service and also delves into Southwest Airlines’ systems breakdown and how entrepreneurs can avoid similar mistakes in their smaller businesses. The episode also addresses defining a specific group of service providers online. Tune in to this episode to learn how to prioritize your business investments and make your services essential to your clients.
Listen in for more on:
- The concept of “nice to have” versus “must have” in business
- Southwest Airlines breakdown due to insufficient systems and its consequences
- Entrepreneurs and the “entrepreneurial middle class” stage
- When a person is not seen as a “must-have” despite their importance
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Highlights in this episode:
- [00:01:54] From nice to must-have: Personal stories.
- [00:03:24] Examples of caring a lot.
- [00:08:59] Service providers versus course creators.
- [00:12:36] Feelings of being “nice to have,” discusses Southwest Airlines systems breakdown.
- [00:15:30] Southwest Airlines system crash cancels flights.
- [00:19:16] Entrepreneurial middle class needs essential services.
- [00:21:15] “Nice to have” to “must-have” through content.
2023 isn’t showing up with a “business as usual” vibe. A handful of years after the work remote world began, a season after quiet quitting, and the world of doing business online has exploded. With it, many changes in how people hire services and skills online abound. With more and more industries being served by one-off providers and more people leaving the corporate world to set up shop in their own business, the service experience is also changing. And services that might have been considered a luxury at one time are moving into the common view along with it.
What is an online service provider?
Many online service providers fall into a unique category of businesses.
- They’re largely solo- or micro-businesses,
- they usually only work with a handful of clients at a time, and
- they’re often upleveled versions of skills many other businesses can “kind of” do.
While doing business online is nothing new, many businesses that have been traditionally brick-and-mortar are joining the online ranks. Therapists, but on their own and with services like Better Up, are moving to online services, for example. And while you’ll still have to go in person to get your hair cut, you can get dye consultations–and wardrobe styling–online as well today. Other services that have long been online range in wide varieties from brand strategists to funnel designers, copywriters to coaches.
Many of these services either didn’t exist ten years ago or were considered a luxury. Becoming a must-have instead of a nice-to-have luxury service takes careful consideration, as well as great customer service skills, and excellent content is the gateway to open this door.
What follows is a sort of FAQ on how skilled service providers and freelancers can move, in the eyes of their audience, from a nice-to-have service to a service viewed as a must-have.
1. What is the concept of moving from “nice to have” to “must have”?
Answer: It is the idea that to grow your business, you need to prioritize the things that used to be “nice to have” and make them “must have”. Starting scrappy is great, but as you bring in more revenue it’s time to prioritize what will help you both grow and sustain that revenue. If you want to become a must-have for your audience, you’re going to have to start considering how your activities will also need to change!
Great content is necessary to get your audience nodding and caring about what you’re selling, even if it’s just an idea. While creating content on the fly may have worked for you in the beginning, as you move into the entrepreneurial middle class you’ll need to invest in a long-term content strategy that performs for a new kind of business.
2. How can entrepreneurs transition from a “DIY mindset” to investing in services like copywriting, website design, and project planning?
Answer: At the stage called the “entrepreneurial middle class,” entrepreneurs should invest in certain services like copywriting, website design, and project planning. They need to recognize that they can’t do everything themselves and that sometimes it’s worth it to invest in professional help.
3. What is the Southwest Airlines incident that the speaker talks about in the episode?
Answer: Southwest Airlines experienced a massive breakdown in their systems due to a a polar vortex cold front, the holidays, and the volume of data needed to make rapid scheduling changes. This led to a situation similar to a DDoS attack that prevented them from processing all the flights scheduled for the day. As a result, they were only able to operate a fraction of the flights they would have normally been able to run (50-100 instead of 2000), causing mass chaos and numerous cancellations.
Since it happened over the Christmas holidays in 2022, it wasn’t just a blip of a news story, but a situation that moved into PR nightmare territory.
This breakdown occurred because Southwest did not have the proper systems in place to handle such a situation. They prioritized serving their immediate needs instead of their future needs. Prior to this meltdown, the enjoyed a good reputation as having one of the best airline customer experience reputations.
4. How can micro online service businesses avoid the same mistakes as Southwest Airlines?
After your basic income needs are met, don’t view every additional revenue dollar as profit. Businesses have to continue re-investing in themselves to grow (and often even to sustain). Southwest Airlines was relying on old technology and hadn’t replaced it, largely to keep their profits high–and they ended up ruining their reputation as a result.
Online service businesses can avoid that same issue by choosing to invest in services that will better their product or service, their customer support, and customer satisfaction. It should also be said, most view the people they work with as clients rather than customers, and the client loyalty usually benefits from that distinction!
Clients want relationships, not excuses, and offer loyalty rather than coupon-hopping. We should treat them in the same manner!
5. Why are some groups of clients so hard to define?
Answer: The speaker discusses a specific group of people that they identify with but are struggling to define in a concise way. These people often provide services such as grant writing, therapy, app development, business coaching, and website design, but they do not necessarily view themselves as part of the online service business industry. They provide their services online rather than in-person. They sometimes have small courses or memberships to support their greater audience who either cannot afford or aren’t ready for working 1:1 with them.
Ultimately, she realized it’s not the job title that defines them, but the mindset they carry in their work. They work with clients, not customers. They enjoy intimate work with their clients.
The reason we might want to define our clients with brevity is for an elevator pitch, a social media blurb, or when conversing on a sales call. It’s traditionally considered easier to say “I work with agency owners” rather than saying something much more verbose like, “I work with people who want to get their clients online, who know the dangers of building their business on rented land, and want to do content differently, but don’t know where to start.”
6. How can service providers make their services essential?
Answer: To make your services essential, you need great content that gets your audience nodding and caring about what you’re selling, even if it’s just an idea.
Once your audience identifies with your great content, half the education battle is won–you’re no longer trying to convince them they need your service. They already know you can solve their problem.
The key is presenting the right content at the right time–and that requires a content strategy that’s intimately woven through your business. It’s also not something that AI can simply regurgitate.
To make your services essential, you need great content that gets your audience nodding and caring about what you’re selling, even if it’s just an idea.
7. What is the “entrepreneurial middle class”?
Answer: The “entrepreneurial middle class” is a stage in which entrepreneurs should invest in certain services like copywriting, website design, and project planning. Many entrepreneurs at this stage still have a “DIY mindset” from their earlier stages of business. This mindset can prevent them from growing and cap their income.
8. What is the importance of the concept of “nice to have” versus “must have”?
Answer: Starting off scrappy is acceptable, but not sustainable in the long run. To grow your business, you need to prioritize the things that used to be “nice to have” and make them “must have”. In doing this, when you choose the right investments, you’ll also make the same shift for your own audience.
9. What does caring have to do with great content?
Answer: Great content naturally builds a relationship and gets your audience’s head nodding–often physically as well as metaphorically! With that relationship and natural flow of moving along the client-buyer journey comes a level of care that’s imperative to a wonderful client experience.
For most businesses that have moved out for the beginning stages and into sustainable stages, this will mean investing in stellar content strategy, rather than the scrappy content creation that got them through their “baby business” stage.
Do you need help creating a content marketing plan that allows you to shine?
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Music by Michael De La Torre. Thanks, Mikey!