8 Ways to Differentiate Your Business

Small businesses have many marketing challenges, but one of the hardest things small business owners need to do is determine what makes their business stand out from the competition and present it in a way that attracts their ideal client. Being able to differentiate your business by communicating your unique capabilities that your competition does not have is paramount to attracting your ideal client.

When someone asks you what makes you different from your competition:

  • Do you answer the question confidently, telling them why you are the best at solving their key challenge?
  • Does your answer help your audience feel like you understand their needs?
  • Do you clearly describe that special thing that makes you their ideal choice?

When you differentiate your business, you make it memorable and credible. It helps your prospects to quickly understand what you do and what sets you apart from your competitors.

The secret to creating your differentiation, or unique selling proposition (USP) is understanding what your ideal client really wants and making sure you deliver it better than anyone else. Don’t be fooled – this exercise is not easy to do. It takes a lot of thought, brainstorming and sometimes some trial and error to see what works. Sometimes we are just too close to our businesses to truly see that differentiating quality that makes us stand out.

Plus you may find what is unique for your business evolves as your business grows.

Simple exercise to help you differentiate your business

Take some time to really think about the following and come up with a list of things you do really well. Don’t underestimate anything because something that you do that is so simple may be just the key to you standing out above all others:

  • What do your clients really appreciate about your service?
  • Why are long term clients still with you?
  • What was one of the nicest things a client ever said about how you conduct business?

The challenge for service businesses is to clearly identify what you do best in a way that is visible to your target. Consultants, accountants, financial planners, coaches, designers, web developers and other service oriented businesses appear to all be the same: they offer the same services for about the same price. Stand out by really understanding what you do best and exploit it. Or come up with something unique that adds value over your competition that you can offer.

8 ways to make your business stand out

Use the following ideas to help you determine that one unique, differentiating quality that only your business has:

  • Narrow your target market – By specializing in a specific customer niche, you can focus on the skills or services that uniquely benefit that customer. Being the best to provide a solution to their unique situation enables you to maximize revenue and build stronger customer relationships.
  • Focus on superior customer service – Aim to create the best experience for your customers. From your initial proposal through final delivery of your product or service, be sure your customers are treated as if they were the only one you have.
  • Solve a problem – Find out what common problems your clients have and be the best at solving them. Make your solutions turnkey so you can solve their problems faster and with better results.
  • Be innovative – Continuously try to improve your customer facing processes to deliver better results to your target audience. If your services are the same as your competition, make the way you deliver them, work with the client or get to the solution better or faster than the competition can deliver.
  • Create offers that are too hard to ignore – Be creative with your service packages and add so much value that it’s hard to say no. If you offer training, give people access to a free module or a money back guarantee. If you have a membership site, offer a free trial for a month to try it out.
  • Be known as the expert in your field – Build a reputation as the expert in your field through your blog posts, books, videos, training and other information products. People who truly have a problem to solve will want to work with the expert.
  • Make it easy to do business with you – Work on your business model to make it easy as possible to work with you. Provide access to you via text or email 24×7. Simplify your contract or instead, use an engagement letter. Do whatever it takes to make working with you easy and convenient.
  • Create a unique business model based on your values – Be transparent to your customers about things you do and why. A couple things I’ve done in my business is that I don’t mark up other vendors products and services and I don’t join affiliate programs for anything involved with marketing so I can remain completely objective when I recommend them to my clients.

Notice I didn’t put price in the list as a way to differentiate yourself. Although price can be used as a differentiating factor, it really isn’t ideal in a service-based business. Who really wants to be the cheapest? Cheaper can evoke perceptions of lower quality, less breadth of knowledge or a less stable business environment.

What makes your business different?

With all the tools, gadgets and platforms, the trend is to spend a lot of time on marketing execution. But one thing we must not forget is that regardless of the channel of execution, you still need the basics of your marketing strategy in place or all of your efforts will be wasted.

Take the time to determine your strengths and communicate them to your target audience in a way that gets them to notice you above all else. Once you have defined and can demonstrate your unique difference, be sure to incorporate it into your messages everywhere.

What is your unique difference that makes your customers want to work with you?