When thinking about how to promote their business, small and medium-sized business owners instinctively think of traditional marketing techniques such as web promotion, direct mail campaigns, newspaper adverts and so on. There is, however, a far more effective promotional tool, and without it these other methods cannot be effective: it is to differentiate yourself from the competition.
By playing up your competitive advantage, the ‘edge’ or unique attribute that your business has but the competition does not, you will draw far more custom than by relying on traditional advertising alone. Here are seven tried and tested ways to truly stand out in the crowd.
1. Carve Out a Market Niche
Let’s say you run a tax preparation business, offering to produce clients’ tax returns for them. So far so good, but why should consumers choose your business over the many hundreds of others offering the same service? The key to finding and retaining a client base here is to carve out a niche in your sector.
2. Unique Products and Services
You could try to create a product or service so unique or trendy that it becomes associated with your business alone. The options here depend on the nature of your business, but the only limit is your own creativity.
3. Make an Offer That Can’t Be Refused
Another way to make a name for yourself is to make an unusual offer. Going back to the tax preparation example, you could offer a 100 per cent refund of the tax return preparation fee when that client refers four new clients to you. Your business would become known as the ‘100 per cent refund guys’.
4. Make a Bold Guarantee
A guarantee along the lines of “total satisfaction or your money back” speaks volumes – it shows absolute confidence in the quality of your work and is then contrasted with your competitors’ evident lack of belief in their own product or service.
5. Solve a Long-Standing Problem
Many market sectors have aspects in their operations that most people dislike but assume are unavoidable. Examples include the pain and unpleasantness of visiting the dentist or not knowing how much your car service will cost until it’s already been done. Address this problem and use it to differentiate yourself – some dental clinics now offer special appointments tailored to people with dentist phobias.
6. ‘Wow’ Your Customers
Customer service is an element of business that comes up again and again – everyone knows it’s important, but no one manages to get it right all of the time. This is a mistake – provide truly outstanding customer service and your customers will become the best salespeople you’ve ever had. Never underestimate the power of word-of-mouth, especially in the age of Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
Once you’ve chosen ways to differentiate yourself from the rest of your sector, the final step is to make sure that everyone hears about what it is that makes you different. Brand-building takes time, but persistence will pay dividends in the end.
Allsquare are professional accountants in Edinburgh offering financial and business services to help small to medium companies with business growth strategies. For more information, call Allsquare today on 0131 343 1510.