You are unique. So is your business. Nonetheless, it is easy to feel drowned out by larger firms with well-established brand awareness despite best efforts to make your business heard. It’s important to claim a piece of perceptual territory, making a promise to your customers that no one else is making. When there are bigger sharks in the water, how do you compete to gain a presence in the market, especially when your business falls more under the umbrella of boutique?
Do Your Research
Know Your Competitor
Above all else, you must have an in-depth grasp of your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. Know their target customers, their pricing, itemize their marketing strategy and identify their competitive advantage. By analyzing your competitors’ activities, you are then able to see what you could do better or different entirely. You can respond strategically, sidestepping their current position to find your own gap to fill.
Know Your Customer
Focus on a specific market segment--don’t try to serve anyone and everyone. Seth Godin said it best,
“When you delight your minimum viable audience:
You’ll discover it’s larger than you expected
They’ll tell the others
If you aim for mass, you’ll probably create something average”
What pains are your (potential) customers suffering from that you can alleviate? Their everyday hassles will help you determine talking points and messages that will help you gain attention and propel you as a leader in the category.
Know Your Business
Identify your core competencies and develop a market niche around these competencies. Bigger firms are likely to have the resources to compete in areas like pricing, so instead, compete by adding value and special experiences that your customers are willing to pay a little extra for.
Where Small Businesses Prevail
Yes, larger firms have their own value propositions that they excel at. But there are things smaller firms offer that big corporations simply cannot.
Small businesses are much more flexible than their larger competitors. As a company grows, the harder it becomes to change directions or act quickly in response to current events and trends. You can run special promotions or messaging based on unexpected events or contribute to real-time conversations in an authentic way.
Small business owners are better positioned to build personal relationships with their customers. You most likely have a hand in most if not every aspect in the day to day operation of your business, which means you have more frequent and genuine contact with customers which allows for trust to be built. You are able to offer a more one-on-one customer service experience, so personalize your interactions and work to build meaningful relationships over time. This can be done by something as simple as remembering their dog’s name or following up with something they mentioned the last time you spoke. Furthermore, the additional contact allows for quicker response time when potential problems arise, providing you with the opportunity to let your excellent service shine through.
You are the ultimate differentiator. The passion that motivated you to break out as an entrepreneur is the same energy and enthusiasm your potential customers want to see. Furthermore, align your personal values with those of your business. Tell your story, let that separate you from the rest, and humanize your brand.
Conducting this kind of analysis will then help you to develop your differentiators. It may be helpful to even make a list of 3 or more. Ask yourself these questions about each:
1) Is it true?
2) Is it relevant?
3) Is it provable?
Strategic use of social media platforms and content marketing allows you to be heard by huge numbers of potential customers without requiring lots of capital. Your website is also the perfect landing pad for your audience to connect with you. Whether that be to learn more about your offerings, your values, or your story, a good website is an integral touchpoint for prospects to build awareness and familiarity with your brand. If you don’t have a website yet, fret not. There are thousands of professionally designed website themes and templates for Wordpress and other frameworks that highlight your business in a sleek, smooth, manner that don’t cost an arm and a leg. Digitally Solid is a digital marketing program to gain hands-on experience, learning strategy and technology to turn up the volume of your communication efforts.
Once you start promoting your story to your target audience, be sure to monitor your results and use analytics wisely to further tailor your message and optimize engagement. Engage with prospects, turn them into leads, and convert them to clients.
Without a doubt, big corporations are intimidating. These tips should help you to find your niche and gain a better idea of your position in the market. Most importantly, have faith in your offering and stand behind its value. As long as you stay passionate about the work you do, differentiating your business will come naturally. Remember, the ultimate differentiator is you. Connect with AWE to learn more about how we can support your growing business!