Every day, your customers are inundated with ads, emails, and alerts. You are challenged to figure out the most effective way to make your your small business stand out. That is, show those customers that there is no one like you. In short, you need to differentiate your business.
Differentiating your business can feel like a daunting task. It seems like it would be enough simply to have a chic website and a strong social media presence. After all, won’t that establish your credibility and professionalism?
Those things are definitely important, but they don’t show your audience why you are different. Furthermore, it won’t be enough to tell your audience that you’re different, better, or the most qualified.
You need to show them why you are different through a well developed differentiation strategy.
What Is a Differentiation Strategy?
To put it simply, differentiation in marketing is the way you demonstrate to your audience how your business and offerings are distinct from your competitors.
The bold-faced words are very important here because developing an effective differentiation strategy means you must clearly understand:
😊 Your audience
💰 Your value
💪🏼 Your competitors
Without a clear understanding of these three concepts, you’ll have a hard time defining what makes your small business stand out.
Differentiate Your Business with these Questions
To understand how to make your small business stand out, begin by asking yourself 5 important questions.
1. What’s My Brand Story?
Customers love knowing how a business began. Reading about your inception will connect your customers to you on a deeper level. Well told stories help customers relate to your business through shared experiences, challenges, or motivations. When your customers see themselves in YOU, they’ll begin forming a sense of trust. And, this trust will serve you later.
Think about how your business began, and consider how you can tell a story that:
- Identifies the moment that sparked your idea
- Features the event where you met your business partner
- Describes the early process of building your business
How can you leverage this story to connect to your customers? What emotions can you tap into that will trigger a positive response from the customers you target?
When you highlight this story on your website, blog, social media, and more, your customers will gain a better sense of the “who” behind the business.
2. Why Am I in Business?
As Simon Sinek famously says, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”
It’s important not only to understand your business’ purpose, but also to communicate that purpose effectively to your audience.
Differentiate your business by highlighting the higher purpose you seek to serve. Answer the question “what’s it all for,” and your customers will be more likely to turn their attention to you, and not your competitors.
3. Who Is My Ideal Customer?
A key part in differentiating your business is in your understanding of your ideal customer. Get clear on who you want to serve.
What demographics describe this person? What hobbies and interests does he or she have? Does your ideal customer live in a particular location? What is his or her education and career experience?
Think critically about your ideal customer’s needs, problems, and pains. Define your unique qualifications to address those needs.
4. What Value Do I Provide?
This brings us to your value. It’s not enough to say, “I provide excellent service” or, “My products are made with the highest quality materials.” To effectively differentiate yourself, communicate the unique benefits of your service or product.
When you communicate the benefits of your products or services, you help your customers understand the value that they get for their money. You help them see the impact of your products or services. They’ll begin to see how life will change for the better, because of you.
5. Who Is My Competition?
Finally, closely examine your competition. Look at similar companies in your market and investigate how they present themselves and how they communicate the value of their services or products.
Identify their brand colors, their story, the types of products and services they provide and the value that delivers.
Then, think about what distinguishes you. What details help you stand out? What’s different about the way you provide your services?