It’s often said that your brand story is a sales tool. Tell your brand story well, and you’ve got your very own multi-functional, turbo-charged sales growth Power-Tool. Small businesses with a great brand story can create an incredible competitive advantage that grows their sales, even in a crowded marketplace filled with larger, more powerful competitors.
How a little company out-sold their larger competitor with a better brand story
Here’s a power company story of David and Goliath proportions, a story of the little power company that could. This is the story of our recent experience changing power companies, and is a great example of how a small company out-sold a large company hands-down because of their powerful brand story. Four key factors shine through, which helped the little company in their quest for new customers:
- They have a great brand story
- They have a much better brand story than their larger competitor
- Their salespeople know the brand story
- Their salespeople confidently tell customers the brand story
Please note – some brand names have been changed. Here’s that story for you:
A customer realises they’re not happy, and goes searching for a solution
We recently looked at our power bill, to see how we could do things better in the year ahead. I’d been talking with a business friend from Our Energy, who encouraged me to give our large, well-established power company the flick and go for a relatively new company, Flick Electric, who literally put the power into the hands of their consumers.
Now, my friend at Our Energy told me about Flick Electric almost one year ago. What took me so long to do something about this? Perhaps the same reason that other customers also delay decisions about changing suppliers. The incumbent supplier wasn’t too bad, we were able to pay, the power never had outages. I guess we were too comfortable to move.
Something changed mid-2018. Winter. Large power usage spike. A couple of power bills hovering around $650 each. Now we really sat up and took notice. The bills went down again, and we promptly forgot about it.
Assessing cost savings at the beginning of Quarter One 2019, I remembered the sharp power spikes, and determined to do something about it.
Finally, I called Flick Electric.
Better brand story giving a smaller company competitive advantage
What an incredible experience! If you’re already a Flickster (wow, there’s even a cool name for Flick customers!!), you’ll know how great their staff are on the telephone. Nothing is too much trouble.
What’s more, they really know and love their brand story. They know the difference they make for customers, they’re proud to be working for a company who genuinely seeks to help consumers navigate the waters of murky power bills. Every person on the Flick Electric team was literally switched on like a neon light – on the ball, up to date with information and happy to answer all my questions.
They also tell their brand story positively. Sure, Flick was probably started because somebody was convinced that there had to be a better way to supply customers with their energy needs. However, they don’t waste time trashing the competition (very un-cool way to sell). Flick staff are completely in love with their brand story and the difference they’re making – and that’s what they focus on sharing about.
Now it’s important to note that I initially contacted Flick Electric because I was frustrated with massive power bill spikes mid-winter. So, my initial contact was motivated by the possibility of getting a lower price.
From that initial telephone call, even though (not being an energy expert) I didn’t fully understand all the numbers, it did sound like we’d benefit from lower prices.
Yet by the time I got off the phone, I was a transformed sales prospect. Price was not the biggest thing in my head. I really knew what Flick Electric was about. Their commitment to customer transparency and joy about giving customers power over their power usage was the biggest impression I had about them.
So – after far too long waiting – I’m delighted to say that we gave our large power company ‘the flick’ and became Flicksters. Adding to the excitement – we got a $50 credit off our power bill for being a referral customer, and the friend who referred us did too. Wow – I’ve never been so excited about a utility company in all my life!
My friend warned me about what would happen next.
‘When your existing, large power company hear that you’re moving to Flick, don’t be surprised if you get a phone call, trying to turn you back.’
Forewarned is forearmed. I was ready.
The larger company tries to win back the customer
Sure enough, the large power company called me. The person who talked to me was very helpful. She really knew her stuff, quoted a whole lot of numbers about power usage that were designed to show me how their larger power company could do an even better deal for Flick Electric, if I would only come back.
The big clincher was – you guessed it – a bigger credit. The large power company would give me a $150 one-off credit against my first power bill with them, if I would only come back and commit to them for a further 12 months.
Now, $150 is a significant credit in my customer pocket. You can do a fair bit with $150. If you don’t have to use this to pay your grocery bill, you could buy a new jacket, get your hair done, go out for a swish dinner. A credit of $150 is infinitely more appealing than a credit of $50, which is what Flick Electric gave me. It was enough to give me a little bit of pause.
Interestingly, I was really happy with the $50 credit when Flick told me I’d get this for being a referral customer. That had only been a few days or a week before.
Something happened next that I didn’t expect – something so surprising that I can’t remember the last time I did this.
The customer loves the small company’s brand story
I was not yet a paying Flickster, but I found myself standing up for Flick, telling the large power company why I wanted to give them the flick and become a Flickster.
That’s right – the team at Flick Electric did such a great job of telling their brand story, on their website and in person – that even in the face of a supposedly lower price discount – I was prepared to stand with them!
It felt a bit mad to give up on the $150 (one-off) credit. Still, my mind was made up.
I told the lady from the large power company about why I was changing, about the transparency that Flick offered me. I even admitted that it made no sense to say no to her larger credit and stick with Flick.
Then I gave her some constructive suggestions.
I told her that Flick Electric had a powerful brand story that I had completely fallen in love with, and that’s why I wanted to try them.
‘The problem is,’ I told her, ‘you’re just selling me on price. You haven’t told me anything special about why I should be your customer. Flick, on the other hand, has told me so much about the way they do things, and why they do them. I’m going to stick with Flick.’
Price is not the only reason customers churn
Moreover, there was another problem.
‘I just don’t trust you any more,’ I said. ‘You’ve only called me to offer a better price now that I’ve decided to change power companies. I know that each winter we get a couple of power bills that give us a fright – they’re just such an abnormal spike. I don’t trust that come July, we won’t get a huge power bill spike if I let us go back to you.’
‘I don’t know if Flick will be cheaper in mid-winter. But I’ve got to check this out and try it. I’m sticking with Flick.’
I also had a suggestion for her.
‘Flick Electric really know their brand story. You guys have got a big marketing department. I think you need to go back to your marketing department and get clear on your brand story. You need to be selling me on more just price – because that’s just a race to the bottom. You need to have a compelling reason why people would want to be your customers, why they would want to stay. When you’ve got that, these conversations will be easier for you.’
I also suggested they check out data analytics, if their marketing department needs any help to understand their customers.
Now this salesperson from the larger power company was lovely to deal with. She quoted a whole lot of energy numbers, demonstrating how the larger power company was committed to saving me money. I didn’t fully understand how the numbers worked, but it did sound good. Even when I told her we would stick with Flick, she stayed calm and relaxed in the face of my ‘no’, sending me a follow up email to outline what they would give me if I just came back.
The paradox of giving your customers freedom
It’s been a few weeks now.
I’m loving being a Flickster. We’re all loving the lower power bills, especially the fact that the power bill comes weekly. This means we can change our power usage habits before they get out of hand (like they potentially could with a monthly bill).
What I’m especially loving is the freedom. Flick offers their customers power with total customer freedom. Even on the Fixie Plan, they now offer ‘no fixed term, no break fee’.
When you give your customers freedom of choice, you take the risk that they might choose to leave. If you give your customers so much freedom, won’t it be bad for your business? Will all your customers leave?
No, they won’t all leave. Perhaps a few might, but the majority will stay.
We’re living in the age of customer transparency and authenticity. Doing a great job for your customers, being honest and transparent with them, really does grow your sales. Paradoxically, by giving me the freedom to leave, Flick Electric just strengthened my customer loyalty.
Brand story – Your sales growth power-tool to create raving fans
I’m no longer just a Flick Fixie customer – I’ve become a raving fan!
All because Flick has an amazing brand story, that’s authentic and real, and that their staff are proud to share.
Will Flick become so big and unwieldy that they morph into something like my old power company? I don’t think so, but of course, I don’t know the future.
What I do know, is that the Flick Electric brand story is the key differentiator. Staff love it. Customers love it.
Flick Electric is a great example of a brand story told well, that transforms into a powerful sales tool to turbo-charge their business growth.