5 Ways to Stand Out from Your CompetitionNo matter what industry you’re in and what products or services you sell, the competition for customers’ business can be fierce. Cutting through the competition to earn your fair market share requires a strategy for differentiating your brand. How does your business stand out? What makes your product, service, people or customer experience unique? And how can you communicate those differences so that customers take notice?
Here are five steps you can take right now to strengthen your competitive position by standing out like never before.
1. Learn from online reviewsHistorically, business leaders who wanted to know what their customers were thinking, or see what their competitors were up to, needed to invest heavily in market research. Today, online reviews offer a shortcut. This isn’t to say there are no circumstances where structured research is necessary; it still has its place in an in-depth marketing strategy. But if you want to grab some quick insights into customer priorities, online reviews can be a great resource.
First, make sure you are in tune with your own company’s reviews. According to recent research, 93% of customers read online reviews prior to making a purchase, and you certainly want to know what they’re reading about you. Consistently monitoring and responding to reviews can help you establish rapport with your customers, get a good look into what you’re doing well and not so well, and prevent potential buyers from being turned off by reports of negative experiences. Thoughtfully crafted responses, backed by genuine efforts to address legitimate customer concerns, reflect your commitment to customer care.
Then, take a look at your competitors’ customer reviews. This feedback can help you gauge those companies’ strengths and weaknesses, and identify areas where you may be able to fulfill unmet needs. The more you read, the clearer your path to differentiation will become.
2. Embrace and communicate your competitive advantage
Only industry giants can pull off being all things to all people — and many times even they fall short. Identify your uniqueness(es) and become the go-to source for that product, service or experience. For example, maybe your company:
- Is challenging the status quo and disrupting the industry with a bold new concept.
- Has created a product line around a particular demographic or lifestyle that has previously been overlooked.
- Offers a patented solution in a market full of copycats.
- Is easier to do business with than competitors, offering better prices, more payment options, a better guarantee or return policy, 24/7 customer service options, etc.
- Is all-out committed to social responsibility, whether through the products you make, your sustainable processes, volunteerism, your commitment to charitable giving or other areas.
Whatever it is that you do best, or better than anyone else, embrace it and shout it from the rooftops.
3. Build your company’s presence through multiple channels
About those rooftops… Never underestimate the value (and vital nature of) staying in front of your potential and established customers. For most companies, this begins with establishing a strong presence on social media, where so many customers go for information and insight.
Choose the social platforms that best serve your customer demographics and online behaviors. If you are a business-to-business company, your clients may rely strongly on LinkedIn, for example, while consumer audiences may favor Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, etc. Create and post content consistent with the brand image you’d like to project — informational blogs that establish your team as an industry authority, or fun videos touting your product, again taking into account your target audience demographics.
Broadening your communications reach beyond social media might include any of the following options, depending on your preferences and budget:
- Online, print or broadcast advertising
- Email or direct-mail marketing
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Public relations
- In-person networking
4. Prioritize people
Some well-known, time-tested advice says that when you take good care of your employees, they will take good care of your customers and your business. Creating and nurturing a culture where every person is valued for their talents and contributions to the team isn’t just the right thing to do morally; it’s also a smart strategy for setting your business apart.
Think about how an employee might handle an issue with a customer if they are themselves unhappy on the job. How much effort will they put into resolving the issue versus an employee who feels satisfied and fulfilled coming to work each day? It’s an important question to ask, especially when you consider that 96% of customers will leave a company or brand for bad service.
Customers feel welcome and valued when employees feel welcome and valued. Your actions — being genuine and consistent in supporting employees’ career and life goals (e.g., providing development opportunities and ensuring work-life balance), cultivating an inclusive culture, and celebrating individual and team achievements — can make all the difference. Go the extra mile for your employees and your customers, and your reputation will rise above the pack.
5. Be open to new ideas and fresh perspectives
If you ever catch yourself saying, “We’ve always done it this this way,” stop and reassess that statement. Staying relevant among your customers and reinforcing your unique market position requires constant innovation and the agility to pivot with market demands.
Always be on the watch for your next big idea — and small ideas with big potential:
- Provide a forum for your employees and customers to share their insights.
- Stay on top of industry and technology developments that might play a role in advancing your business.
- Learn from other dynamic leaders in industries beyond your own whose businesses are growing by leaps and bounds.
Your open mind and ongoing commitment to standing out in your market can give your company an extraordinary competitive edge.
This article is for general information purposes only and is not intended to provide legal, tax, accounting or financial advice. Any reliance on the information herein is solely and exclusively at your own risk and you are urged to do your own independent research. To the extent information herein references an outside resource or Internet site, Dollar Bank is not responsible for information, products or services obtained from outside sources and Dollar Bank will not be liable for any damages that may result from your access to outside resources. As always, please consult your own counsel, accountant, or other advisor regarding your specific situation.
Posted: February 09, 2023