Providing a great product or a service does not guaranty success. If you don’t offer a unique value proposition to your customers, you may lose them to competition. If you cannot differentiate your brand from others in your realm, there is a possibility that your business will fail. A survey of around 500 small business owners showed that not being able to differentiate their brands from competitors was their biggest problem.
Whether you run a small or big business, differentiating it from its competition is crucial. After the successful release of the “Snapchat story” feature in 2013, Facebook and Instagram decided to offer their own versions. However, while Snapchat’s offering remains popular until today, the other two failed.
Why? Instagram understood its audience and what it wanted, whereas the others were simply following suit. Instagram has always been about visual updates and interactions, and their stories seemed like a natural extension. Facebook and Instagram simply hoped to cash in on its success.
What, then, can you do to differentiate your business in the coming year?
Get to the Root
If you are not sure of what differentiates your business from its competitors, start by looking at your customers. Why do they prefer your brand over others? Do you offer a unique product or service, is it because of convenience, or is it because of pricing? Identify why your customers come to you, pinpoint on your brand’s core differentiator, and take it from there. In my case, it makes sense that I identify the latest trends in web design ahead of my competitors.
Consider these examples:
- A web design company with a small team of experts recognized in the industry for their expertise keeps building on knowledge.
- High-level safety features that come in mid-priced sedan make it a market leader.
- A bakery with an evolving yet elaborate spread is well known for its variety.
Identifying what makes your business stand out is not as complex as it may seem and here is how you may get started:
- Research your industry and find out all there is to know about your competitors.
- Ask your customers to write down what they feel about your business and its competitors.
- Carry out a brainstorming session with all your employees to learn what they think about your business.
- Evaluate the strengths of your business.
- Narrow down on the most important benefits your business offers.
Just about every field continues to evolve, and so should your business. If you are happy with the way things are going and do not bother to look for innovative ways to grow, the resultant stagnancy may lead to the downfall of your business. Irrespective of whether you offer a successful product or service, innovation must remain a key driver. Consider taking these steps to stay on top of the changes in your industry:
- Interact with your customers to find out what they want ahead of time.
- Don’t hesitate to borrow ideas from other industries.
- If you offer similar services or products as your competition, improve how you work with your clients, the way you handle deliveries, or how you approach complaints.
- Compliment an existing offering with a new product or service.
- Focus on your offerings and don’t bother with what others might have to say.
- A change of setting may work as a trigger for new ideas.
- Make innovation an ongoing process.
Think Brand Evangelists
There is a strong likelihood that a pool of your customers is as effective as you in identifying what distinguishes your business from its competition.
Club this with findings of a recent survey, according to which 97% consumers referred to online reviews for local businesses this year, and 85% place equal trust in personal recommendations and online reviews.
If your business generates repeat customers, go that extra mile to show appreciation that can come in the form of exclusive promotions or deals. The first step is to build loyalty in repeat customers, and their becoming brand evangelists follows. Then, it is not out of place to look upon a brand evangelist as an advertisement on the move. They help market your wares to your target demographic not just through reviews, but also through social media and in real-life conversations.
Consider this – every brand evangelist, on average, brings three new customers. If you have 50 evangelists, you could be looking at around 150 more customers.
Identifying your company’s brand evangelists is not as complex as you may imagine.
- Customer satisfaction surveys and reviews enable you to address concerns effectively. The customers that turn into vocal advocates are your evangelists.
- Identify social media followers who regularly comment on or share your content.
- Find out if you have new customers that recommend your business.
To create brand evangelists:
- Talk to your customers.
- Engage them with contests
- Offer incentives.
- Focus on personalized customer service.
- Remain accessible at all times.
- Build a community.
- Encourage your employees to promote evangelism.
To Recap: Things to Start 2018 Off Right
Identifying what sets your business apart is crucial for its growth as well as long-term survival. Use the qualities that make you better than your competition in your marketing to become memorable, and thus differentiate yourself from your competitors.
The times they are a changing, and they will continue to, so it is crucial that innovation lies at the heart of your efforts. Just a personal example, a highway diner our family frequented when I was a child refused to change its menu, the technology it used, and even the less-than-comfortable seating. It existed only until the arrival of competition. Don't end up like that diner. And remember, find your brand evangelists or create some yourself.