During my training sessions with small business owners I am very often asked: “How can I make my business different from my competition”?

Actually, this is a very good question. I am really happy to hear it because it means many entrepreneurs understand the need for differentiation in the  saturated market. Differentiation is one of the most important strategies and can be a decisive factor if clients choose you over your competitors.

Many entrepreneurs know it’s crucial but it’s not so obvious for many of them how to do research that can help them in positioning themselves in the market.

Today I will show you a few helpful and very simple steps on how to find  ways to differentiate your business from your competition. Here they are:

STEP 1

In this step you start by analysing your competition. Write down 5 of your biggest direct competitors. If you don’t know who they are or who is sharing most of the market, you have to find out and recognize them.

And here it is how you can do it:

  1. Talk to various people about your potential competition:
  • Ask your associates, brainstorm and consider who your biggest competitors are.
  • Talk to your business partners.
  • Talk to your vendors and suppliers, which of the companies they do business with, they consider to be your competition.
  • Ask your clients whose services they had been using before they started to do business with you. Finding out why they’ve started to do business with you is crucial.
  • Ask your friends from other industries what is their opinion on this subject is.
  1. Use the Internet whether your business is on-line or offline. It doesn’t even matter if you have an official website for your company. You can always find many valuable resources and information on the Internet:
  • Use Google, Yahoo, Bing and other search engines by typing in keywords related to your products, services and industry.
  • You can also type questions or keywords you think your clients could type when searching for your products and services. You can also brainstorm with your associates and employees. For instance if you have 10 employees and ask each one to write only 10 keywords each you will finish with 100 ideas to research. If you are a sole trader you can ask your friends or family for ideas.
  • You can also use applications and services like Google Keywords Planner that can give you a lot of brilliant ideas.
  • If you own a local business you can also type a search for the name of your city.
  • Look at the results, explore and analyse the websites that are connected to your industry, products and services.
  1. Make a list of your biggest competitors and go to the next step.
  2. Do a deeper analysis of the list you have created:
  • Explore and research official websites of each company to find out more about them.
  • Type the name of each company into the search engine. Research pages where the company is mentioned.
  • Look for comments and reviews written by clients. Search forums and websites like Yelp where clients can rate your competition. Take a close look at both positive and negative comments.
  • In the same way try to find your competition and information about them in social media. Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter could be good place to start and find valuable information.
  • You can also go to the physical points of sale, salons or call them to find out more about them. You can buy from them and analyse the experience, sales processes and the value they are giving to clients.
  1. After you’ve done the first four steps choose five companies that you consider to be your biggest competitors.
  2. Write down the strengths and weaknesses of each company you have on the list. Do the same for your company. Here are some useful questions that can help you:
  • Is a company doing well or is talking about doing well?
  • What are the areas where a company is weak?
  • What products and services does a company offer that you don’t?
  • What are the products or services you offer that none of your competitors do?

STEP 2

In the previous step you spent a lot of time for harvesting, researching and analysing as much information as you could about your competition. It’s time to write down about 10 things that make you stand out and differentiate you from the competition.

What do your clients can get from you that your competition can’t give them?

You can also write down possibilities, opportunities of what could differentiate you from your competition.

When you’re done, write an action plan for each opportunity – how you can create or achieve it.

STEP 3

Write a few sentences about what makes you different from your competitors. Do not make any comparisons or mention them. Write in a positive way what is so unique and amazing about your company and why clients should choose you over the competition.

If you’ve finished these 3 stages you’ve made a first very important step to differentiate your company on the market. The next stage is to implement your plan from step 3 and also create your “Elevator Speech”. An “Elevator Speech” is a very effective tool in communicating to others what you do, how you do it and why it’s so important and worth knowing about.

In one of the future articles I will show you exactly what an “Elevator Speech” is, how to create it properly and why it’s so important to you and your business.

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Jack Brzuz

Entrepreneur, Business Growth and Marketing Expert, Consultant, Founder and CEO at SME Business Academy
As a Business Growth and Marketing Expert I help companies, businesses and local entrepreneurs grow their business utilising proven and tested business and marketing strategies.

With 10 years of experience in Business I positively impacted up to 1000 small and medium sized businesses with his trainings, consulting, international speaking and advice.

I am active entrepreneur and business owner, I worked with Universal Music, owned a Music Distribution Business and a Digital Marketing Agency. I was involved in marketing campaigns for concerns such as Western Union, Mercedes, Ruuki, Hewlett Packard and numerous other well-known brands.

You can read more in "About Me" section of this Website.
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