With the vast amount of small businesses and large corporations, it’s easy to feel that your business is lost in a sea of competitors.
We spoke with business leaders to learn their tips for making a business stand out from the crowd.
Identify What You Do Best
Debra Murphy, a writer for Masterful Marketing, claims that you should start by determining what your business does best.
Every business specializes in something. You might offer a unique product, or maybe your customer service is effectiely personal. Georgia Dorfman, CEO of All My Love, encourages leaders to capitalize on their strengths.
“No strength is too small,” Dorfman states. “When making your business stand out, you have to look at what you’re already doing well and determine how your marketing strategy can highlight these areas. There will be customers looking for your company’s specialties. When they see that you deliver on these specialties better than your competition, they are likely to use your services.”
How do you identify your company’s primary strengths? Breanne Millette, CEO of Bisoulovely, suggests turning to your current customer base.
Millette states, “You want to figure out why long-term customers began using your services and why they remain with your company. Ask for their direct feedback. You can ask them what marketing elements drew them in and how the services met or exceeded their expectations. They will tell you why they choose your company versus a competitor who offers similar services and prices. Customer feedback is also a great opportunity to determine areas of growth. What does your loyal customer base want to see in the future?”
By listening to customer feedback, you’ll be able to determine your target audience.
Narrow Your Target Audience
The more narrow your target audience, the better you’ll be able to adapt your services and market them according to customer needs.
“Customers have unique situations,” says Tavis Lochhead, Co-Founder of Looria. “They have different experiences when searching for products, and they’ll likely have different expectations for your products. You want to identify commonalities between customers. Determine a specific need they share that your product or service provides. It’s important to start with a niche group to ensure that your company benefits the customer.”
Having a narrow target audience goes hand in hand with playing to your strengths.
Ankur Goyal, Head of Growth at Coterie, states, “Maximize your product’s quality. You want to tailor your product as best you can to your audience’s needs to build stronger customer relationships and increase customer retention. If your initial target audience is too broad, you might miss out on opportunities to personalize your approach and meet customers in their specific circumstances.”
Another way to differentiate your business from your competitors is by providing superior customer service.
Provide Excellent Customer Service
Quality customer service is as important as quality products.
“A business’s success is determined by the customer experience,” claims Karl Hughes, CEO of Draft.dev. “The better the experience, the more likely the customer will continue to use your service and recommend it to others. Customer service is a huge part of the experience. Think of yourself as a customer. You want to be treated as an individual. You want the company you’re buying from to show that they listen to and care about your concerns. No matter the size of your company, do your utmost to ensure that your customer service is welcoming and compassionate.”
Customer service extends beyond the moment a customer chooses to purchase from your company.
Professors Ian MacMillan and Rita Gunther McGrath, in their article for the Harvard Business Review, claim it’s necessary to check-in with customers at all stages of the purchasing process.
They state, “It is crucial to remember that the customer is always interacting with people, places, occasions, or activities. Those interactions determine the customer’s feelings toward your product or service at each link in the chain.”
Jordan Duran, Founder and Designer at 6 Ice, agrees with MacMillan and McGrath. MacDonell claims, “Customer service begins by making yourself available for customers’ inquiries. While customers are searching for products, they’ll be drawn to companies that offer support. After they purchase your product, check in on how it’s working for them. You want to ensure their satisfaction by offering services such as returns, repairs, and exchanges. The connection doesn’t end after their purchase. You build loyalty and trust by showing you care about the customers beyond the revenue they provide.”
One way to support customers and to differentiate your business is to simplify the buying process.
Simplify the Buying Process
MacMillan and McGrath urge business owners to make the search for products “less complicated, more convenient, less expensive, and more habitual.” You can do this by offering your products where and when your competitor’s products aren’t available.
Melissa Rhodes, CEO of Psychics 1on1, suggests you make connections with other businesses in parallel markets to expand your reach and make it easier for customers to find you.
“Partner marketing is an effective way to find new audiences,” says Rhodes. “You get your name out to an established customer base that is likely interested in your product. If you want to get involved in partner marketing, select a company that offers a non-competing but complementary service. Make a unique offering that combines your services. It’s a simple way to expand your brand’s visibility without costing you money in new storefronts or advertising.”
You can also simplify the buying process by optimizing your website to appear in online searches.
Search Engine Optimization
When customers search for products online, they’re unlikely to scroll through multiple pages on search engines such as Google. By including keywords on your website’s links and content, customers will find your company quickly.
Ben Hyman, CEO of Revival, explains the importance of SEO. Hyman states, “Keyword optimization is the best way to ensure your customers find your website before your competitor’s. Customers often shop online. By working to make your website more visible, you expedite the search process for these customers, granting them access to quality services without a hassle.”
Your website is an opportunity to draw customers in and distinguish your services, prices, and mission from the competition.
“When constructing a website, you choose what elements of your company you want to highlight,” says Selom Agbitor, Co-Founder of Mad Rabbit. “Everything from the images you use to the tone of your content lets customers know who you are. When you’ve taken all the necessary steps – establishing a narrow target audience, capitalizing on your strengths, and working to make your brand visible – you can determine how to convey these things online. With SEO, customers will find you quickly. With a strong message and design, they will stay engaged.”
The final way you can differentiate your business from the competition is by becoming a known expert in your field.
Murphy asserts that you can demonstrate your expertise through written content such as blog posts and books and recorded content such as training videos and speeches.
Haim Medine, Creative Director at Mark Henry Jewelry, states, “You can offer high-quality services at affordable prices and have exceptional customer service, but it’s likely your competitors will offer the same. In this case, the best way to draw customers toward your company is by earning their trust. When you’re open with the knowledge you possess in your field, people will see that you’ve developed a solution to a problem you understand. By engaging in thought leadership, you show the logic and passion behind your company. It builds your customer base and establishes your credibility. Additionally, you might open your audience’s eyes to a need they didn’t know existed.”
If you’re a business leader wondering how you can make your company stand out, we hope this list has given you some practical tips to implement.