The best marketing team in the world can’t make your business stand out if you don’t have a product or service that is unique, useful, and relevant. Business competition is real, and there are a multitude of ways that you can make your business have its own unique edge against other similar companies in the same industry. What works for some companies may or may not work for others.
Regardless, these simple tips below should help any company find success against their business competitors.
The most important thing to do as a company or brand is to make sure that what you are offering is something that fulfills a need. If your business is unique and stands out, then marketing becomes a much easier task.
It’s vitally important to find a specific market niche. John Jantsch says carving out an industry or two in which to become a dominant player can help you stand out and could possibly raise your prices dramatically when you are specialized in one area. You don’t want to spread yourself too thin by trying to be all things to all people.
On the other hand, you want to avoid becoming too specialized as well. As Todd Berger, President and CEO of Transportation Solutions Enterprises told Inc.com’s Suzanne Lucas, it’s important to offer a “diverse suite of services” to make your company as useful as possible to potential clients and customers.
However, these are not contradictory ideas. Your business could specialize in a certain industry while offering a diverse suite of services within that industry. The point is that overextending your business or “trying to do too much” can be dangerous. Just as dangerous, though, is trying to be too specific and missing opportunities.
Whatever your market, business, or service, you want to be the expert in your field. You may think of yourself as the expert, but potential clients and customers need to see that and think that. Charlie Cook’s Marketing For Success says you should “demonstrate your expertise and give them a reason to contact you.”
Even if you have the same amount or even less expertise than a business competitor, you shouldn’t let customers and clients know that. Instead, make some kind of offer where potential customers and clients can get in touch with you and learn about your growing expertise. Cook suggests offering some kind of free consultation or report to show that you know your stuff.
Letting people see that you are an expert in a field can build trust and create fans of what your company does, and it can also give you an edge up in business competition. This can create evangelists of your message. Even if someone doesn’t patronize your business or use your service, they will remember the good thing you did for them and talk about you positively to peers. Thomas Edwards, of Entrepreneur.com, suggests that this is one of the best things you can do for your business.
Mashable reports that 70% of consumers trust recommendations from friends. All the advertising in the world won’t trump the recommendation of a trusted friend.
For some other tips on how to stand out in business we talked to Tyler Williams of Photomadic. They specialize in social media photo kiosks and photographers for events. He talked about how he made his company stand out in the beginning and where he falls in the debate between specialization and generalization.
TW: Quality is a key driver in everything we do, and has helped us win and keep customers since day one. It’s tempting to compromise quality when you’re trying to grow fast, but we’ve done a good job of not falling into that trap and keeping a high standard of quality, especially in regards to our client deliverables. When a company truly cares about its products and services, people take notice. I think our customers notice and appreciate that about Photomadic. Outside of that, I think we do a great job of listening to our customer’s problems and using that input to guide our innovation. We’ve changed and adapted a lot since we started, and by focusing on solving customer problems we’ve been able to consistently increase our value over time.
TW: One thing I realize in hindsight is the importance of systems and processes. The better systems you have in all areas of your business, the less friction you’ll have as you grow. We didn’t do a good enough job of preparing for growth, which in turn caused some resistance to further growth. It’s still something I’m constantly learning; the balance between investing in growth and investing in resources to handle the growth. Another thing I learned along the way is focus. Choose what you want to focus on wisely, and base it on real data such as unit economics, research and market opportunity. Once you figure out where the opportunity is, get laser focused and see it through. This will always change over time, but it’s critical that you say no to some opportunities and focus on the ones that point you in the right direction and return the most profit.
TW: I offered the product for a deeply discounted rate. My price increased overtime as we proved our value and built our customer portfolio.
TW: When you’re small and starting a new business, focus on one thing and be the best at it. Specialization is extremely important when you’re building a brand because it needs to easily resonate with your audience. As you grow you’ll get more freedom to offer additional services because you’re more established and there is nothing wrong with that, but I wouldn’t recommend anyone starting out to offer multiple services. We started out by offering one product, a social media photo booth, and in fact Photomadic was synonymous with that term. There were a number of factors along the way that lead us to our current market position where we offer a variety of solutions to marketing agencies. Part of it was determining our own culture and values, and part of it was continuing to add more and more value to our best customers. Every company is different, so you really need to evaluate your opportunities and strategy as you grow and evolve, but in my opinion it’s always more beneficial for companies to have a lean towards specialization.