How do we decide where to shop? One of the biggest reasons we choose a brand or service provider is just because we noticed them, or they stood out amongst the rest.
Differentiating yourself from your competitors is one of the fastest ways how you can start to attract more clients, grow your business, and ultimately make more money.
But how do you do that? Here are 14 ideas on how you can stand out from your competitors, most of which you can implement pretty quickly:
- Deliver extraordinary service: Look at what your competitors offer, and then think about what you can do to improve on their service. Do you greet customers with a friendly smile when they come in or when they pay for their products? Are your sales reps knowledgeable about your products or services?
- Address customer problems: We’re in the business of solving problems, so find out exactly what it is your clients struggle with and then design your products, services, or marketing message around that problem. If your offering doesn’t solve a problem that they have, why would they buy from you?
- Surprise your customers: We all love surprises, and your customers are no different. Some ideas include a surprise email giving a gift card to those who open all of your emails, or a free breakfast to the 1000th customer to your restaurant.
- Implement a loyalty program: We’re all familiar with this, and there’s a reason why it’s so popular – because it works. For example, a hairdresser can offer a free haircut for their clients’ 10th visit. A coffee house can provide the 10th cup of coffee for free. Your customers will come back again and again.
- Build relationships: It’s easy for business to become impersonal or for a customer to become just a number – especially when transacting with big companies. It is an excellent opportunity for SMEs to stand out. When you remember their name, ask after their family, or talk about shared interests or concerns, your clients will feel more connected with you and will come back for more.
- Do business differently: Investigate if there are any holes in what your competitors offer. If they close at 5 pm, maybe you can catch the people who want to hop in after work.
- Specialise: Instead of trying to cater to everybody, you can provide to a smaller group of people, and become known for it. For example, Shapes for Women is a fitness chain who caters exclusively to women. But they don’t leave it there. Their workouts only take 30 minutes, narrowing their client-base down even further. Their gyms become a no-brainer to busy women who want a quick workout that gets great results and where they can sweat away from the prying eyes of the opposite sex.
- Focus on quality: Be the Tesla of your industry, not the Chery.
- Reduce risk with a guarantee: If you can eliminate customers’ hesitation to buy, you will appear to be more trustworthy, and your sales will increase. Imagine if you could return that blouse that you bought last season, but never wore? Or if you could return the running shoes you took to the road, only to realise that it doesn’t work for you?
- Create a great company culture: For instance, you may have a 100% paperless culture in your business. People who genuinely care about sustainability practices will appreciate that and support you. Another great example, of which Virgin is a poster child of, is employee well-being. When you look after your team you’ll attract the best, they’ll go the extra mile and come up with great ideas, and they’ll treat your customers well.
- Admit your mistakes: It’s inevitable to make mistakes in business. Don’t shy away from that. When you take responsibility for your mistakes, your clients will respect you and come back again to support you.
- Be honest about your product/service: Don’t promise the moon if you can’t deliver it. When your customers know what they can and can’t expect, their experience with your product or service will be better. For instance, if you sell second-hand cars and one of them had a small fender bender, don’t tell the unsuspecting buyer that the car wasn’t in an accident. At one point they’ll find out you withheld this information, and they won’t be happy.
- Back a cause: Another way to stand out is by giving back to the community; doing some good will attract like-minded customers, and they’d like to be affiliated with you. A good example is the Woolworths MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet program where a percentage of your purchase is donated to a school or charity of your choice.
- Start a social business: Take giving back to the next level by starting a social business. One example of this is StitchWise who employs disabled former mine employees to produce safety products for mine workers.
What are you doing in your business to stand out from your competitors?