Where I live, I support my local indie people. Not the indie hackers that frequent here. Just the normal everyday people hustling to serve their local community. Over the past few years we've been intentionally ditching, where possible, buying from big companies.
I'm not perfect, I never will be, but we do pretty well:
- 75% of our food comes from our local green grocers and butchers, they know us well. And as a family of 7, dare I say we are probably their biggest customer. They look after us, just as we want to look after them.
- we got a Christmas tree from our greengrocers this year too, they gave it to us for free because we helped them get a basic website up (using Carrd!)
- our dentist is local and knows all the family, we know we can call them when in need and they'll do what they can to help us.
- our Optician is local too, for years we had gone to a local chain, but last year we changed that. The other day he fixed a pair of glasses and refused to accept money for it. He knows we'll be back and recommend him to everyone we know.
As an indie hacker it is so easy to get sucked into thinking that we are too small to compete against the bigger companies That people would have no reason to listen to us. That anyone could easily out do us, out grow us, and just out 'everything' us.
But really, bigger companies often fail their customers by needing to serve everyone. They can't be personable. They can't offer great service. And with forever changing staff they crucially lose touch with who their customers really are.
Where we can stand out is by being human, giving that human and personal touch. Taking the time to get to know our customers. Allowing them to see us for who we are: real people trying to do something good in the world.
Applying a human touch is our competitive advantage. Maybe you won't be able to maintain it forever, and that's ok. But we are here, now. And everyone has it within their reach to be human.
Here are simple ideas to get you going on how:
- reply to all emails
- be conversational in with your words
- take the time to learn about your people
- be approachable
- share your story
- be helpful
- not everything needs to be transactional
- make jokes
- use first person language
- add wee.bio to your website 🤣
Will you be able to track all the data and whether all of this directly relates to your growth? Probably not.
Will you be able to grow through word of mouth and no advertising? Of course it depends on your business, but it's highly possible. (I did).
The thing is, big companies want us to believe we need them. Google and Facebook want us to advertise with them and they are doing whatever they can to make use believe we need them and can't survive without them.
I want you to know that it is possible, more fruitful and often less stressful to grow on your terms.
The catch? You need to be prepared to take the long road.