How can I stand out from the crowd?
Want to stand out from your competition? A good starting point is the reality check that potential customers may not know you, may not know how good you are, might not be able to find you, and may find it simpler to stay with their current provider. So, what can you do? Here are eight tips.
It could all start with a snappy name and/or strapline. Don’t overthink your business name as its memorability (and simplicity) could be as important as its appropriateness to your business.
Some of the world’s most enduring brands – and many more modern ones such as Nike and Apple – have names that have little obvious relevance to their businesses but are simple and catchy.
Add (and stick to) a pertinent and succinct strapline such as ‘Just Do It’ and ‘Think Different’ and you have a package that’s built to be remembered. Read our Ideas for how to name a new business article for tips.
Investing in distinctive signage and vehicle decals could make you more memorable too.
You may become better known if you operate in a niche market, instead of trying to be a ‘Jack or Jill of all trades'. Look at what's currently available in your industry and think how you can be different and make your business unique, to reduce head-to-head competition and to carve out your niche as a specialist.
Simplify how you describe yourself too, so that customers know exactly what they are getting. For example, if your core skill is remedial massage, it may not be worth competing in the broader sports physiotherapy space.
You can differentiate yourself by being an early adopter of customer-friendly technology too. Like being the first business in the area to offer the convenience of taking card payments anywhere using just a smartphone equipped with the EFTPOS Air mobile app.
You don't have to spend a fortune on marketing to ensure you are top of mind for potential customers.
Search for all the directories that are available in your area and/or industry; invest time in your social media profile (sharing new products, services, and online reviews); attend relevant trade shows; and network constantly. For more ideas about promoting yourself read our 10 marketing tips for your small business article.
Make sure you're visible in browsers too, by making your website attractive to search engines through search engine optimisation. And consider if paid search – where you sponsor key words that your target market is searching for – is right for your business. Outbidding the competition is a sure way of appearing closer to the top of the search results.
A regular review of all your marketing materials and marketing channels is a good idea too, as the ways available to attract attention and make your business stand out – particularly in digital mediums and through word of mouth – are constantly evolving. It takes continual effort to stay ahead of the curve.
In any competitive marketplace, if you're offering much the same as everyone else you could risk becoming a commodity, if choosing you just comes down to price. In seeking to take the service levels you offer above those of your competitors, start by thinking of the providers that you yourself use as a customer.
Why do you choose them over others? What keeps you coming back when other options are available? How are your specific needs being addressed? The answers to these questions may provide the inspiration you need to add value to your own service offering.
Providing excellent customer service may be as simple as speeding up response times, fulfilling promises to call customers back, and checking in with them afterwards to make sure they are happy with what you've provided. And when these customers thank you for your sensational service, ask if you can feature their endorsement on your website and on social media platforms. Tagging them could share their praise with their entire social network – fuelling your efforts to stand out from the crowd.
How easy is it for customers to contact you? Is your website easy to navigate? Is your pricing competitive and simple to understand? Are you offering convenient ways for customers to make payments?
If you think about all the pain points your customers are experiencing at the moment, you may be able to come up with more ways to differentiate your business from the rest. After all, who can resist doing business with people who make their lives easier?
For inspiration, try reading our 6 ways to optimise your website design and How can I take payments in my business? articles.
Supporting local events and sports clubs may be a good way to raise your profile – and you could make the most of any functions and events associated with them. Remember, people like doing business with people who support the community and other good causes.
You may find you could build business partnerships through this activity too, creating a valuable network of contacts who may already have strong ties to potential new customers.
Read our Ideas for corporate social responsibility article for more ways to position your business as a company that cares.
If you have staff representing your business, what do they say about you when you're not around? Your team members could be your biggest assets and should be the most enthusiastic supporters of your products or services. Invest in their job satisfaction and it may pay forward to the work they provide on your behalf – as well as the impressions they share about your business.
The sharing of praise and appreciation from employees can be exponential through social media and other online channels, so having a happy workforce is important.
Avoid complacency and encourage customer loyalty. Whether it's an amazing offer or a reward for being loyal to you, always look to introduce new reasons for your customers to become loyal customers, choosing you rather than your competitors.
The information in this article is general in nature; does not take your objectives, financial situation or needs into account. Consider its appropriateness to these factors; and we recommend you seek independent professional advice about your specific circumstances before making any decisions.