So, tell me honestly: Do you long to be like everyone else and fit in nicely with a group? Or do you want to stand out and be different, original, and unique?

Or maybe a little bit of both?

As I was thinking about how to introduce this post, I was struck by the dichotomy of trying to fit in versus wanting to stand out, and how we value each of those things at different phases and stages of our lives.

In life and in business, we constantly feel the need to toe the line between being different enough to be unique and memorable, while still being similar enough to the person (or company) next to you that you feel welcomed and accepted.

Binefit, my on-demand storage company, certainly falls in the former. It lives in a niche of self-storage that is still in its infancy. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but sometimes the concept of on-demand storage falls a bit too far outside what prospective customers see as “normal.”

Conversely, when I decided to start this blog, I felt paralyzed knowing there are so many great business blogs out there. I asked myself “could I really make an impact and provide value in this space?”

“Ain’t nothin’ new under the sun.” – My Grandma

Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum personally, when you think about your business, you have to keep in mind what sets you apart.

Because, as my grandma used to say, “ain’t nothin’ new under the sun.” If you’ve thought of it, chances are someone else has too. Or even if you don’t think you have competition, chances are your customers or readers may not feel that way. So you’ll want to approach your business in a way that doesn’t just copy the guy (or gal) next to you.

As my grandma used to say, “ain’t nothin' new under the sun.” If you’ve thought of it, chances are someone else has too. Or even if you don’t think you have competition, chances are your customers or readers may not feel that way.Click To Tweet

Here are 10 surefire ways to differentiate yourself from your business competitors.

When it comes to business, if you’ve thought of it, chances are someone else has too. So it's important to keep in mind what sets you apart. Here are 10 great ways to differentiate yourself from your business competitors.

differentiate yourself from business competition

1. Market yourself differently

Find a unique and unexpected way to reach your audience. Is everyone in your industry using Facebook to advertise? Try YouTube. Is your closest competitor blogging about their expertise? Try giving an in-person talk. Figure out where your clients are and try showing up for them in a way that will surprise and delight them.

2. Flip the customer experience on its head

So often customers get so used to a particular way of interacting with a business that they forget to consider if it’s actually convenient for them! My on-demand storage company is definitely one example of how we took the traditional self-storage experience and flipped the experience to be more customer-focused, but I can think of other examples as well. Uber, Lyft and other ride-sharing apps realized that it is not convenient to stand in the middle of the rain with your hand in the air getting soaked just so someone will give you a ride to where you want to be, so they helped solve the problem. Even traditional schools and universities that now offer online classes (unlike the many many moons ago when I graduated!). This lends itself to more convenience and a comfortable learning environment. If you create convenient, customer-centric experiences, your fans will remember how you made their lives easier.

3. Link yourself to a worthy cause

Consumers are savvier now than ever, and enjoy knowing that their money is going to a company that gives back to the community and shares their values. And there’s no better way to show you’re running a business with heart than by syncing with a charitable cause. It’s part of the reason brands like Warby Parker and Tom’s have had such great success. If your product or service has a natural link to a community service element, then this strategy to differentiate yourself is definitely one worth exploring. But the keyword here is natural. If it comes off forced it will be inauthentic, and it will turn customers off and away.

4. Stay ahead of the curve

I don’t necessarily mean “be trendy,” but you don’t want to have a Borders or Toys “R” Us-style flop because you didn’t see the writing on the wall. Pay attention to trends in your industry and even across industries to see if there is something that others are adapting that could work well for you. Things like ordering ahead, delivery services, real-time dashboards and trackers, and text- or chat-messaging are starting to become the norm across a variety of industries. Even if your closest competitor isn’t doing some of these things, are you nimble and innovative enough to implement them for your own business?

5. Solve a problem

Knowing and solving your customers’ pain points better than the others will launch you ahead of your competitors. What is it that drives them crazy about your industry? If you aren’t sure, surveying your customers should be your first step. If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, there are other ways to find these insights. Facebook groups, forums, and reviews of your competitors can help shed some light on how you can solve their problems.

6. Make it simple to do business with you

Do your customers know exactly what happens after they sign up for services with you? Is your website easy to navigate and equipped with FAQs? How easy is it for someone to pay you or contact you with questions? If your customers have to work too hard to find the answers they need or don’t understand what comes next or can’t pay you easily, then it’s time to rethink your systems and processes. Welcome kits and phone calls, handbooks, a page devoted to frequently asked questions, or easier online payment mechanisms like PayPal or even Venmo can set you apart from the company next to you.

7. Support your hometown

There’s nothing like being a hometown hero! If you can, support your local economy by buying locally sourced foods, donating to a local charity, or giving back to your community through an event or a drive. Supporting your local economy is not only a sustainable way to keep the money circulating in your community, but the partnership that is created will boost both of your brands and give you both the opportunity to shine in front of your hometown customers.

8. Create a community

As humans, we yearn to feel understood and connected to like-minded people. Consider creating or sponsoring an event for people who may be in your target audience and will feel safe amongst like-minded. Offer networking opportunities or workshops for them through a medium like Meetup.com. Or, if your business is online, consider Facebook Groups. All of the great course creators I know have Facebook groups that accompany their courses where their students can go to get answers to some of their questions and feel support from people who are going through their same struggles.

9. Create a different look

Another way to differentiate yourself from the competition is to try on a different look. Does everyone else in your industry wear uniforms? Have you team wear dark denim and a polo instead. Or, the aesthetic changes don’t have to be related to clothing. My children’s doctors office replaced exam tables with couches instead. The relaxed choice in furniture eases the typical anxiety that comes with visiting the doctor for my children and myself, and this (plus the excellent care we receive) keeps us coming back again and again.

10. Personalize the experience

When was the last time you received a courtesy follow up call to see how your service was? Or a handwritten thank you note from a business? And how good does it feel when you walk into your favorite coffee spot and they greet you by name? Or better yet, know what you want to order before you even have to say a word? These types of personal touches are memorable and will not only keep your customers coming back, but will also encourage them to refer you to their friends! So consider finding a way to incorporate them into your business.

“In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.” – Coco Chanel

You’ll hear business gurus tell you all the time that if someone else is doing what you want to do, that this is actually a good problem to have because it means there’s already an audience and a market for what you have to offer. I agree with this wholeheartedly, but I will add that even if (or, maybe, especially if) your product or service is similar to others out there in the market, hopefully, you can use these ideas to help differentiate yourself from the next business over and make it easy for your customers to decide to choose you.

Here are those 10 ways to differentiate yourself again:

1. Market yourself differently
2. Flip the customer experience on its head
3. Link yourself to a worthy cause
4. Stay ahead of the curve
5. Solve a problem
6. Make it simple to do business with you
7. Support your hometown
8. Create a community
9. Create a different look
10. Personalize the experience

 

So, what do you think? Did anything in this article resonate with you, or create questions for you? Do you have other ideas add to this list? Drop me a note in the comments! I’d love to hear from you.

Finally, if you think someone else could benefit from this information, I’d love if you shared this with them! Sharing is caring!

Cheers To The Journey!

Your Ideal Life - One Email At A Time!

WHETHER YOU'RE LOOKING FOR A MORE FULFILLING CAREER PATH, MOTHERHOOD MADE EASIER, OR WAYS TO MAKE YOUR LIFE HAPPIER, LESS STRESSED, AND MORE PRODUCTIVE, WAKE.COFFEE.SLAY HAS YOU COVERED.

Subscribe to our newsletter for tips, tricks, and hacks to conquer your life goals with grace and ease.

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit