Does the idea of standing out and being unique fill you with dread? Are you happier to look around at what everyone else is doing and then take their lead?
Do any of these sound familiar?…
- ‘We don’t want our business to be toodifferent – if we seem too ‘out-there’ we’ll scare people off!’
- The big guys have tried everything, they already know what works. There’s little point in us reinventing the wheel!’
- ‘It’s important that we fit into people’s perceptions in our category.’
It’s human nature to want to fit in. Especially if you’re the new kid on the block. Sometimes we’ll go to great lengths to avoid being different in order to be accepted.
Remember back to your school days… only the brave, bold and somewhat insane would dare to swim against the tide for fear of being ostracised. Why would you take that risk with your business?
Or perhaps you simply believe that everything’s been done before and there’s no potential to differentiate in your field.
Either way, in business, fitting in is considerably more dangerous than standing out
According to Hiscox’s Top 9 Reasons Small Businesses Fail, the first reason is lack of cash. No surprise there.
Number two is lack of planning and then straight in at number three is the lack of a clear, differentiated value proposition.
Without differentiation you give people no clear reason to buy from you!
Beware of replicating the market leaders. You’ll always be considered an imposter and without their branding and marketing budgets it’s too easy to look like a cheap copy.
This will impact your bottom line because you’ll have to be significantly cheaper to secure new business and unless that fits with your business model then you’ll always feel undervalued and be underpaid!
The other danger in being a ‘me too’ entrepreneur is that too often it leads to becoming a ‘me too, three and four’. Scared to miss a trick, it’s very tempting to collect USPs from your competitors!
‘Ah Davies and Croop have added ‘cheap as posh chips’ to their USP directory, can you add that below ‘totally unsurpassed quality’ and ‘fastest service in the universe’ but above ’superior luxury toilet paper’ in ours please Heather? Except we’ll say we’re ‘cheap as cheap chips!’ Genius!’
Okay I’m playfully exaggerating here, but the truth is that you simply cannot be all things to all people. By having a plethora of USPs, none of which are actually unique, the message you’re sending is…
- We’re a jack of all trades and master of none
- We have no confidence in our offering
- We don’t really know what makes us valuable… hell we are as confused as we’re making you!
- We’re not completely honest, or authentic
As scary as it is to hang your hat on one unique value proposition it’s absolutely essential in order to be believable, memorable and in charge of your own pricing. And funnily enough you’ll be a whole lot more attractive to your ideal customers to boot.
But in crazy times like these, when there is so much competition, finding your own uniqueness can be the hardest challenge of all. If you’re struggling, don’t despair, we can sort this!
Here’s some ideas on how to make your business unique in a way your clients will LOVE…
- The first step is discovering how you’re already unique.
Because you are. Without question.
We just need to understand how… so spend time unearthing your vision, passion, values and personality. Very often this step alone will help you identify your point of difference.
- Get to work on your Unique Value Proposition. To do this you need to get intimate with your customers and their problems.
How can you solve these in a way your competitors can’t, or don’t?
- Take time to understand what it is that your customers are really buying
Spanx? Probably not. The license to eat a huge three course dinner with copious amounts of wine? That’s the one! Book-keeping services? Nope. The chance to Netflix and chill on the sofa without a care in the world? Yes!
Getting to the bottom of this could make a HUGE difference to your proposition because it enables you to communicate directly with your customers hearts. Spend time to uncover these core drivers and then package your problem-solvers in a way your competitors don’t – it’s entirely possible that they haven’t done this exercise and are missing a trick here.
- Take your business to a market where your product and services don’t currently exist .
This will make you totally unique in that sector. For example… perhaps you’ve developed a special weather-proof range but it’s a crowded space with stiff competition. Maybe the same product could be modified to work for horses, or even dogs too.
- Or you could exclusively serve the most laser-focused micro niche. Luxury express beauty treatments for high-flying, time-poor mums that work in the city and are chained to their desks… we come to you!
- Consider fusing two different ideas.
A great example that’s already snapped up is combining the cattery and luxury hotel concepts. The result… luxury cat hotels, exclusive retreats for even the most pampered felines.
- What valuable extra could you add to your service that your competitors don’t?
Same day delivery? Live dashboard reporting? A loyalty scheme with a difference?
- Even a perceived weakness can be turned into a positive and can actually be the differentiator your customers are looking for. Think of Guinness which takes about three times longer to pour than anything else. This could put people off – think of all those wasted minutes spent twiddling your thumbs at the bar while missing out on the raucous laughter coming from your table!
But Guinness made this not only a positive differentiator but a way of flattering those with enough patience to hang in there… ‘Good things come to those who wait’.
- Remember if nothing else makes you unique then personality definitely counts.
Once you know your point of differentiation, you can write your Unique Value Proposition (UVP). This simple and concise statement tells people exactly why they should choose to work with you.
When you’ve mastered this, you can design your brand and marketing materials to literally ooze your differentiation at every single touch point.
Voila… memorability made!