Question: “Whose bread would you buy? The bread made by the baker that spends their time working on the best recipe and new ways to make a better loaf, or the baker that has the best bread van and most advertisements?”

Next question: “Which bread would you prefer to buy?”

If you can see the fundamental difference in those two questions you’re a long way to figuring out the conundrum a lot of small businesses will find themselves in when it come’s to their online presence. So for the purposes of this article, let’s call the baker with the amazing bread van, popularised by ubiquitous advertisements, Jack. And our baker who focuses on making the best bread can be Jill.

Being honest, you’ll be most likely to buy Jack’s bread. You know about it. He gets the bread to you on time. And it’s bread right? Not the most complicated thing in the world when it comes to a purchase. You live in a happy enough world where you sometimes have a sandwich, sometimes have toast, and basically feel like your every bread need is satisfied.

Then one day, you remember a friend has recommended Jill’s loaf and you happen to be passing her shop. You stop in. You buy a loaf. And your bread world is never the same again! Never have you tasted such a loaf! Never has a sandwich tasted so good! Never has bread been this healthy for you (Jill uses ancient grains and all organic ingredients)! Jill charges more than Jack yet you would still pay more than she charges.

From now on, there is no question about where your multigrain toast will come from. Jack who? Jill has you as a customer for life and it doesn’t stop there. If anyone mentions bread, you mention Jill. Jill get’s more business and she never advertised.

So in your business, are you Jack or Jill?

If you’re Jack, then you’re spending a lot of time online building a social media presence, writing articles and following every new trend and fad so as many people as possible hear about you and what you do… and some of them may buy. You hope.

If you’re Jill then you work at getting better at your service, or creating a better product. Your online activity reflects your passion for bread. When you do contribute it’s because you’re interested – not because you’re thinking of the attention. The bread always comes first. You may not get a stampede of customers right now. But you know that with word of mouth, people’s loyalty to quality, people’s desire to pay for quality and a passion for what you do, you’re going to build a much more solid business.

Jill is not vulnerable to a new kid coming along with a bigger advertising budget, or more vans. Jack is.

Jill can raise her prices. Jack can’t (without losing customers).

Jill can change her recipes. In fact, her type of customer trusts her baking skills and expect new types of bread. Jack’s customers expect what was advertised.

Jack or Jill? Better to know and build your strategy.