In today’s super noisy world, what you want from your prospects and would-be customers is their attention.
But in a world where everything seems to be mediocre and “me too”, how do you stand out in a saturated market? How do you stop your prospects from comparing what you offer to your competitor?
Here are 7 ways to help you create your competitive advantage.
1. Do something your competitors are not doing.
The easiest way to stand out is to offer or do something that your competitors are not doing. You’ll be immediately perceived as unique just by doing something that’s unusual in your industry.
What are your competitors not offering or not fulfilling? What could you do?
If your industry peers are into trade shows, don’t go into trade shows – try something else to promote your business. If your industry is not known for having a personal touch, try implementing a personal touch. If no one sends handwritten cards, try sending some handwritten cards. If your competitors don’t offer 24-hour turnaround time, offer 24-hour turnaround time.
2. Change up your product’s outlook.
Sometimes your product is a commodity and there is nothing you can do about it. You can’t run away from this fact. But by simply changing its appearance, colour, packaging or how it is offered can make your prospects sit up and take notice.
For instance, remember the days before we had premium kopitiam? How did the old style kopitiam look like? Dirty, smelly and noisy!
But the newer establishments re-thought the whole kopitiam concept and made it better. They’re still selling coffee and roti bakar BUT they’ve made the environment a lot better to attract attention of people who like the “traditional experience” without the dirt!
3. Focus on offering premium quality.
If you’ve always been offering something basic and similar to the rest of your competitors, perhaps it is time to change up and focus on premium quality. Focusing on premium quality immediately makes you different because you’re not offering the same old stuff that everyone is offering right now.
Premium quality also means higher pricing but if you can offer enough value while educating your audience why premium is better, price is the least of your issues. Examples of premium quality businesses: Starbucks (coffee), Four Seasons (hotel), FedEx (logistics), Apple (tech gadgets).
4. Create your own category that no one can touch.
To be the one and only, you need to create a category that no one can come close. Make sure the category you create is a true category and not something fictional or worse, a big fat lie.
In our web design industry, no other web designers dared to offer marketing classes because they’re web designers, not marketers. We saw this opportunity a long time ago and decided to make it part of who we are.
This is why we say, Redbox Studio isn’t just a web design firm; we are your marketing partners – the website is just the starting point of your online marketing system! (And of course, we teach our own marketing system based on Wing Chun martial art principles so that makes us totally unique too!)
5. Offer a better than normal guarantee. Make it big, bold and scary (to your competitors).
As Nic mentioned in Marketing Mojo, if you dare, make a better than normal guarantee that not only blows the socks of your customers but also scares the living daylights out of your competitors.
You want them to say, “But that’s CRAZY!”
The crazier it is, the faster you’d get known (make sure you tell the whole world about your crazy guarantee). But make sure you deliver on your guarantee because nothing fizzles like a limp promise! A strong guarantee also helps you become a leader of your market. For example, here’s a guarantee we read about:
“Bugs” Burger Bug Killers (BBBK) is a US-based pest-extermination company. They guarantee:
- You don’t owe one penny until all pests on your premises have been eradicated.
- If you are ever dissatisfied with BBBK’s service, you will receive a refund for up to 12 months of the company’s services—plus fees for another exterminator of your choice for the next year.
- If a guest spots a pest on your premises, BBBK will pay for the guest’s meal or room, send a letter of apology, and pay for a future meal or stay.
- If your facility is closed down due to the presence of roaches or rodents, BBBK will pay any fines, as well as all lost profits, plus $5,000.
The US-based business charges 10 times more than its competitors and yet has a strong market share. Their service is so exemplary that they rarely need to refund. Out of US$33 million revenue, they’ve paid out only US$120,000 in 1986 just to prove that they honour their promise!
So, what could you guarantee?
6. Unleash your inner David (as in David & Goliath).
If you want to stand out, you need to be David and find the Goliath in your industry.
Many entrepreneurs love to be in business but they don’t dare to declare to the world why they’re in business (and no, making money is not a good reason though that is what keeps us all in business!).
If you don’t stand for something in your business, you’re just going to be like every other business. Pick something that you are “against”. This becomes your biggest mission or cause and this makes you different!
Take the case of celebrity chef and TV personality Jamie Oliver who went on a personal crusade against unhealthy eating (fast food) and obesity especially among kids.
Unhealthy eating was his Goliath.
He campaigned about it and even created a controversy about the use of “pink slime” in ground meat in the US and made it public via his TV shows. So what is your Goliath? If you’re passionate enough, you will soon have lots of people who will follow you because they believe in the same cause!
7. Invest in a quality website that helps you get leads, get customers and get profitable.
One of the easiest ways to stand out is simply by investing in a quality website. Your audience will always google your business first before they meet you or buy from you. We want to be informed and checking out someone’s website is the quickest way we do our due diligence.
What do we mean by quality? It means a website that is designed to enhance your brand and image, not detract from it.
Have a good look at most websites – do these websites make their business owners look good? Besides visual appearance, you can easily do a quick check using these 3 criteria we use when we do a website audit.
- Does your website offer ongoing value in the form of useful articles or information to your website visitors/target market?
- Does your website collect names and emails of interested prospects?
- Does your website contain a compelling story of the personality behind the business?
If your website doesn’t offer these 3 items, your website is not made for marketing and most likely will not help you in the long run. The worst part is, you won’t know because no one is going to walk up to you and tell you your website is crappy!
(Look out for our book coming out in the first quarter of 2016 too as we outline an entire website strategy for small business marketing.)