If you’re breeding and selling white alligators, you don’t have many competitors. Unfortunately, there aren’t many small businesses who share that same advantage. In fact, most small businesses are in highly competitive industries.
If You’ve Seen One Accounting Website, You’ve Seen Them All
I look at hundreds of small business websites, and I can count on my shop teacher’s right hand how many do an excellent job of differentiating themselves from their competitors. One real estate website is the same as the next. Every law firm website looks similar and says the same things. They’re so homogenous, you’ve forgotten the website as soon as you navigate away from it.
How Do You Stand Out In An Overcrowded Industry?
So how do you stand out in a sea of competitors? Well, good news. There’s so much mediocre marketing out there, making your brand attract attention is simple. (Notice I didn’t say it was easy.) Being distinctive requires messaging your value proposition clearly and highlighting your differentiators consistently.
Your Business’ Value Proposition
What value does someone get by doing business with you? Do you make their life easier? Do you help them earn more money? Do you keep them safe? Hydrated? Healthy? Amused?
You know your business’ primary value off the top of your head. For example, “We make great dog beds.” But dig a little deeper. What does your business uniquely provide that other dog bed makers don’t? “We make comfortable, durable orthopedically-designed dog beds that give the owners peace of mind that they are providing the best care for their injured and elderly pets.” Now we’re getting somewhere. Because now we are connecting what you provide to the specific value the buyer receives and including the emotional benefits too.
But talking about your value proposition isn’t enough.
Your Business’ Differentiators
With so many dog bed makers, why should someone do business with you? Defining differentiators is where knowing your competitors and their value propositions come in handy. Things like price and quality are easy to talk about, and that’s why everyone does. It doesn’t take much effort. But when you understand that your competitors are saying their dog beds are light and easy to move, you can then talk about your heavier cushion and fabrics which make your beds far more durable.
Your differentiators need to be specific and they are informed by deep knowledge of the competition.
A Little Competitive Sleuthing Goes A Long Way
If it sounds like I’m suggesting that you study your competitors’ value propositions, I am. If you want to stand out, you need to know how everyone else in your industry is portraying themselves. Take a look at your top five competitors’ websites, brochures, business cards, uniforms, fleet vehicles, brick and mortar locations–anything that conveys their brand. What are the direct and indirect messages the brand is conveying to their prospects and customers? Figure out where your brand is similar and where it’s different.
Examine Your Own Brand
While you’re analyzing your competitors’ brands, how about taking an unbiased view of your own? Just as you examined your competitors’ brands, take a look at your brand communications. There is usually a gap between what you think your brand is projecting and what the audience is seeing.
When you examine your brand and pinpoint those gaps and then combine that with concise statements of your value proposition and your differentiators, you have the tools to make your brand stand out, and not coincidentally, you’ll be miles ahead of your competitors.
In March, I’ll take you through how to perform a brand audit> so you can discover what your brand is communicating to your prospects and customers.
Need help figuring out your value proposition and differentiators? Contact us.