Setting Your Business Apart from Your Competitors: 8 Ways to Differentiate It

Setting Your Business Apart from Your Competitors

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Small businesses have trouble differentiating their company from larger competitors with substantially deeper pockets. Setting your business apart isn’t just one thing – it is a collection of innovative strategies and best practices to follow. However, customers notice it when extra effort is made.

Effective leadership starts from the top down. Here are 8 ways to raise the business standards to new heights.

1. Listen and Evolve Faster

If you haven’t previously considered market research, maybe it’s time you did? Market research will discern more clearly what customers want or expect from your business. It may surprise you how different that is from what you offer today through the current roster of products or services. 

Seek customer reviews at every opportunity. While they won’t all be useful, many will be. You’ll be able to take a big-picture view of what’s offered now and see ways to improve upon it.

Replacing unwanted product lines with ones that customers have asked for is a positive step forward. Use ideas from customer feedback to revamp existing services or to redesign a product. Then ask a few existing customers to try the product or service and then their opinions.

2. Deliver Better Customer Service

The advantage of small businesses is that they’re able to deliver a more personalized service. The sheer number of customers makes it a struggle for larger enterprises to do the same.

Being customer-oriented is what small business customer service is all about. In the push toward growth, companies often lose sight of this. Staff stretched too often leads to declining service levels unless it’s anticipated and addressed directly.

OpenPhone has written about how they approach small business customer service in their company. Their fast growth in the VoIP business phone market gave them the first-hand knowledge to know what’s required. The article covers key areas of concern and proposed solutions for companies struggling with their Customer Service.

SEE ALSO: How to Choose a Brand Name Using Smart Technology

3. Keep the Employees Happy

Unhappy employees aren’t as attentive to the needs of the customers. A happier team is likelier to meet customer expectations. Low morale underdelivers and is to be avoided.

Promoting Greater Engagement

Employees are more engaged in a positive workplace.

Supporting staff in what matters to them creates a reinforcing loop; they double down on their commitment to excellence. Managers can then trust that the employees will meet the required standard.

Incentives and Benefits

The staff appreciates incentives and benefits. These should be carefully selected based on the interests of the employees. Doing so avoids providing ones that don’t move the needle.

For example, younger employees prefer flexible working arrangements and more time off. Older employees look to the future, so retirement solutions like generous 401(k) matching plans and solid healthcare plans hold greater appeal to them.

4. Nuanced Design and Unexpected Extras

It’s difficult to differentiate between similar products and services in the market. Failing to do so means customers don’t see where why your brand offers something they should care about.

Nuanced Design

Work hard to create a nuanced product range. Each product within it should include unique elements.

The additional care and attention should be self-evident. For customers, this demonstrates additional value provided, even with otherwise largely generic products. Also, it may allow the company to charge more.

Unexpected Extras

Including extras for customers delivers a surprise. Careful consideration must go into each of them, or they will be viewed as throwaway items.

They must either add to the usefulness of the product or be a small accessory to extend its use somehow. Otherwise, don’t waste the money on producing it.

5. Maintain High Levels of Communication

High levels of communication are required for service-based businesses. Customers must have clarity from the first touchpoint through to the end of the business relationship.

Communication can easily break down at the crucial mid-point. A company may expect the business relationship to continue without interruptions and become complacent. Missing or late communication leads customers to either feel like they’ve been forgotten or for larger businesses, that they’re just a number. Maintaining regular communication avoids doubts from forming.

Customers who feel heard, better understood and respected often leave good reviews. Poor communication leads to disgruntled ones that sometimes are prone to imagine the worst; this creates time-consuming complications that are best avoided.

SEE ALSO: How to Express Your Uniqueness in Communication

6. First Mover Advantage

Develop new products based on market trends before larger competitors do. Press your first-mover advantage as a nimble small business.

Disrupt the market. Question assumptions of what customers desire in a product. Make it a goal to create a reputation for new, interesting products. Customers will seek to follow new product developments and subsequent launches with interest. Keep them updated via an email subscription and social media channels.

7. Offer Attractive Deals

Offering attractive deals is another point of separation in competitive markets. Failing to do so leaves money on the table. Ensure the deals are unique and don’t parrot what peers already provide.

You may feel that incentives reduce the product’s value or the value of your service. This is the wrong perspective. Instead, frame it as a way to get noticed by attention-starved consumers or business owners. Yes, it comes at a price. However, it is just another marketing expense.

Perks or promotions require careful thought. Otherwise, they risk adding costs, without providing the right incentive to entice the customer. Read the customer reviews for clues about what customers feel is not being provided. Get into the mindset of the customer to see it from their perspective. Aim to relieve pain points or overcome obstacles to making a purchase.

8. Don’t Lose the Advantages of Being Smaller

Smaller companies have the advantage of thinking creatively and believing in optimistic ideas. With business growth, it’s easy for some of that edge to get lost.

Customers often seek out larger competitors. Larger marketing budgets ensure their advertising is seen more frequently. Smaller businesses must actively hold onto a startup-like mentality to ‘out-hustle’ larger peers. Otherwise, their voice may get lost in the marketplace noise.

Differentiating a business is paramount to ensure it remains relevant. Or else, locating your business mojo later will be increasingly difficult.

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