Struggling to make your products stand out in a crowded marketplace?
Here’s 5 tips on how to compete with big companies and differentiate yourself in a competitive world.
You know the scenario. You spent months building up your business and you start making sales. Then a customer complains that your product is too expensive (they can get it cheaper from Catch, she says) or that your product is not as pretty as a similar one being offered by another business. It’s depressing at best and at worst, devastating, because you’ve put your heart and soul into your business.
Yes, people say you need a thick skin when running a business, but sometimes customer feedback can be really discouraging and make you want to quit altogether.
I’m here to tell you: please don’t give up.
Just because you’re a small business doesn’t mean you can’t compete with more established businesses. And remember, those big business that you see around started out small too, just like yours.
To compete in a competitive market, all you need is a bit of know-how, and here are five tips to help you.
1. Make sure your brand is super refined
There is a saying in marketing: “if you try to appeal to everybody, you’ll end up appealing to nobody”.
Wait – somebody should make that a meme.
Here you go:
Refine your brand, and what you stand for. Your branding is more than just your logo. It’s the message you want to impart to your customer. Pick a single message – your single value proposition, and stick with it.
But what message should I put out there? You might ask.
Think about the one thing that you would like your customer to remember you for. Pick the thing that you know is uniquely you, and build your brand around that. When thinking about your single value proposition, ask yourself these questions:
- Who is your customer?
- What problem are you going to solve for this particular customer?
- Why, or how, are you the one to solve this problem?
Here’s an equation that you might find useful:
I help (X) do (Y) by doing (Z)
- X is your customer
- Y is their problem you’re trying to solve, and
- Z is how you’re going to solve that problem
And you thought you were done with equations when you left school!
Here are some examples of single value propositions from well-known companies to inspire you:
- Evernote: Evernote helps you capture ideas and find them fast
- Hello Fresh: Take the stress out of mealtime
- Trello: Trello helps teams move work forward
- Shopify: Anyone, anywhere can start a business
- Zoom: Flawless video. Clear audio. Instant sharing
Branding is important because in a saturated market, you need to stand out from the pack. And even if you are competing against larger, more successful companies, your single value proposition is what will attract the right customers to you.
The more targeted your brand, the more appealing you will be to your customer.
2. Make sure your products and your service are top notch
Once you’ve refined your brand, highlight your amazing products and services.
Do you personally select your stock and tailor it to your market? Do you ensure your stock is sourced only from ethical providers? Do you make yourself available for any customer queries and go the extra mile for your customer (for example, you personally gift-wrap products before they’re delivered to your customer)? Make sure to include this in your web copy and marketing materials.
In other words, don’t just sell to your customers, give them an experience. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and try to imagine the whole journey from their point of view. Ask yourself these questions:
- Would a customer search for you on Google?
- Once they’ve found your business, is the website slow to load and don’t have the info they need?
- Does the product description describe exactly why they should buy it?
- Is it easy to make the purchase?
- Is it easy to get in contact with the business owner / seller (i.e. you)?
Make sure all your content (social media, website etc) is all about how you can help the customer, not about your amazingness (even though you truly are legit amazing).
Do an audit of the whole customer journey from start to finish and see where your customer might get turned off and click out of your website on scroll past you on social media.
It may help to have family and friends step in the shoes of the customer and give you feedback on the whole experience, and make tweaks where needed so that when your customer stumbles on your website or socials, their whole experience will be top notch from the moment they find you to the moment they send their credit card details to you.
3. Show that you are a real person behind the computer, not a bot
Put a face to your business. Don’t be shy. Your beautiful face should be splashed all over your socials and your website, so your customer knows exactly who they’re dealing with.
Businesses on Catch or other discount places often don’t have contact details listed, so if anything goes wrong the customer has no way of contacting them. Make sure your website has all your contacts (email, phone and address) very visible for customers. Don’t make your customer click around tyring to find out info on how to contact you.
Lastly, create relationships with your customer. Don’t just ditch them once they’ve handed over their credit card details. Continue the love by giving them regular updates on your products and services, special discounts and offers to subscribers only, and surveys on how you can serve them better. You can do this through email marketing – click here to read more about email marketing.
4. Have social proof to back you up
Did you know that 83% of customers don’t trust advertising? If you’re competing with a big business with big advertising budgets, use the power of testimonials to give yourself a leg up. 90% of people are more likely to trust a brand that someone recommended to them – even if the person doing the recommending is a total stranger!
Social proof is powerful.
So get those testimonials out and make them prominent all over your socials and your website. Don’t have any testimonials? Not a problem! Start with your network of family and friends, and offer them a free sample of your product, or a sample of your service (for example, free appraisal, free initial consultation) in exchange for a testimonial.
When seeking a testimonial, ask them for detailed feedback such as:
- What their problem was
- How your product or service solved their problem
- A comparison of their life before and after receiving your product or service
You could even ask them if they’d be willing to have a photo of them alongside their testimony. Testimonials with photos of the reviewer are even more powerful as it instantly increases the credibility of the testimony.
5. Innovate don’t detonate
If your brand is not constantly innovating, your brand will die – i.e. explode, detonate, die a horrible death. Think Kodak. Blockbuster. MySpace. Don’t be them.
In a crowded marketplace, you need to constantly move, constantly improve, constantly refine your product offering or services. As mentioned above, continue the love with your customers through email, because the best way to innovate is to listen to what people are saying and making improvements to your product. Regularly put out surveys to check in with your customers. Have your finger on the market’s pulse and be on the lookout for what new things are coming on the market. Watch what your competitors are doing and see if you can do it better. Make sure you are continuously improving.
So take heart, small business mama, you can absolutely compete with big business. Don’t throw the towel in just yet. If you would like help with your website copy or email marketing, please contact me.