Many Canadian entrepreneurs tell us that differentiating themselves from their competition is one of their main struggles. But the good news is: it doesn’t have to be painful! Try these 3 tips to help your small business stand out from your competitors.
1) Identify a specific niche
Understanding your business’ overall industry is important, since it’s home to many factors that can influence your business decisions. However, “niching down” even further is a great way to help your business find its differentiating characteristics. For example, your flower shop may be one of dozens of flower shops in your city. But what if customers knew that you were the only florist in town to source its flowers and plants from local growers? This is an immediate differentiating factor, and one that’ll help you stand out from the competition.
2) Ask your existing customers for their perspective
Your happy and loyal customers return to your business because they know and trust you. Asking them for their feedback could be a great way to help you stand out from the competition. The way you do this depends on your customer base. It could be an informal chat with your regulars, or a more traditional customer feedback survey – try a modified version of our quick eight-part customer survey. You may be surprised at the specific things your customers identify as your differentiating factors.
3) Consider a business pivot
A core component of the lean start-up methodology, pivoting is a useful way to iterate quickly based on customer feedback. If your customers identify a different platform, new technology, a new product feature, or something else, that can help you stand out in a crowded market, do some research to see if it could help you stand out from the rest.
There are many things that are hard to communicate in ads because they can’t really be measured – the reason why your customers should trust you is one of those things.
Being able to communicate brand trust through your marketing material is very important. After all, you often get one shot to make an impression on your prospective customer or client, and you shouldn’t depend on getting a second chance to prove your trustworthiness.
Put it this way: according to a recent survey, 56% of consumers feel more loyal to brands that “get them” – so it’s important!
How do you communicate something as intangible as trust in your brand’s marketing materials?
Whether you’re just starting your small business or are trying to keep money coming in the door during these difficult times, you’d probably love to not have to shell out the big bucks for marketing.
Luckily, GoForth’s CEO and Founder Leslie McGeough has some tips to help! As one of our GoForth Experts, she was asked how to generate awareness of a new business on a limited budget. A few of her top tips were:
Get creative with social media. For example, post a behind-the-scenes Instagram video, or do a Facebook Live Q&A.
Partner with related, complimentary businesses to offer bundled services.
Once you’ve created a great branding strategy, it’s time to express it in everything your business does – marketing, design, customer experience, everything.
Giving customers what they expect
One of the most important requirements of brand delivery is consistency. Be sure to reference your brand pillars and promises often to make sure you’re communicating them appropriately every time. When your brand has a distinctive personality and fairly consistent set of attributes, you’ll create and emotional bond and loyalty with your customers.
Consider some of the strongest brands in our society and what they represent — Volvo is known for safety, BOSE for its sound quality, and Apple for its innovation. Some brands have even developed so strongly that they become everyday words, like Google, Band-Aids, and Kleenex. While developing your brand, envision how you want it to be perceived in the marketplace and communicate that through all of your marketing efforts.
Add products and services strategically
Successful brands are often stretched too far, into unrelated or irrelevant markets, or undesirable variations of the existing product or service. Tread carefully – failed expansion efforts can dilute your brand and have a negative effect on identity and reputation. Examples include Jell-O’s launch of celery- and tomato-flavoured gelatines to be used in salads, Pepsi’s launch of PepsiAM — a cola to drink in the mornings, and Colgate’s launch of dinner entrees. Eeeew.
So how can you add products or services while remaining true to your brand? Consider Virgin, one of the largest and most well-known brands in the world. This company has expanded into many industries that are unrelated. However, Richard Branson, the company founder, has been very careful to ensure consistency and personality between these very different brand extensions. Although the company has expanded into completely unrelated industries, the Virgin brand has remained recognizable and successful.