Fit in? Or stand out? Most startups and small businesses would opt for the latter. Nonetheless, it’s notoriously tough to avoid blending into the crowd in saturated markets.
That’s not to say being distinctive is a unicorn dream. Plenty of companies have solved the riddle of how to attract attention in a crowded field. Take Amazon. It’s certainly not the first online retailer; it’s just the one that broke the mold by being totally different.
Stand Out in a Saturated Market
If you want your brand to be memorable, consider applying the following strategies to your everyday workflow. Each idea can help your organization woo attention from the competition in genuine, and often clever, ways.
1. Give away your industry knowledge.
You’re an expert in what you do. In fact, your whole team’s backed by years of expertise. Don’t hide what you know: Flaunt it, “humble brag” style.
For instance, why not create and share thought leadership content? Many publications eagerly accept well-written articles and opinion pieces. Additionally, LinkedIn’s self-publishing platform can be your soapbox to give advice on anything from where to buy your morning coffee or how to effectively handle your finances.
Don’t be afraid to compare yourself to your competitors, as well. One of the best ways to share industry knowledge is through unbiased and informational reviews of all industry contenders. For example, If you’re in the home warranty industry, you want your customers to feel confident that they are choosing a great home warranty after reading reviews and doing their research. Never underestimate the power of being seen as a go-to person for industry advice. Your popularity as a thought leader who generously shares knowledge could help you net significant attention for your business.
2. Construct a captivating backstory.
Who doesn’t love a good tale, especially if it’s true? Your company probably has an interesting origin story composed of unique components. Maybe your founder overcame a physical disability early in life, showing tenacity, perseverance, and faith. Perhaps your product grew from identifying and solving an underserved community’s pain point.
Take time to lay out the backstory of your brand so you can use it to generate an emotional attachment with customers. When someone reads the story and thinks, “This brand aligns with who I am,” they’ll be more apt to send their disposable dollars—and referrals— your way.
As a side note, be sure to leverage your corporate story to guide and inform marketing campaigns, mission statements, and visuals.
3. Take an unexpected stance with your customer service.
Why do customers invest in one company over another, especially when their offerings are fairly similar? The answer often boils down to customer service and the overall customer experience (CX.)
Let’s say you’re a cleaning services provider. You can’t necessarily beat the competition on price or speed. However, you can offer a memorable client journey from beginning to end. By focusing on delivering top-notch interactions, you can break free from the mold. And people will definitely talk.
If you’re stumped on how you can ensure your CX is second-to-none, see what works for businesses in non-competing markets. What are CX practices that you could borrow? How could you modify winning CX strategies and own the corner on concierge service for your clients? Answering those questions can get you closer to making waves quickly.
4. Fix a nagging problem everyone takes for granted in your industry.
Think about your industry. Is there a snag that everyone overlooks? Or brushes away with a nonchalant, “Oh, that’s just the way it is. Why rock the boat?” Those are the magic words for innovation, which is your key to major disruption.
Remember that anything can be changed, even the stuff that seems like it’s inevitable. If change weren’t an option, we’d still be walking everywhere and might not have invented carriages, let alone trains and motorized vehicles.
Of course, finding this needle in the haystack may involve some Sherlock Holmes-type scrutiny. Consider bringing in industry outsiders to help you pinpoint areas of friction inherent in your business. Once you pinpoint those issues, you can brainstorm ways to overcome them. As long as your solution doesn’t cause more serious problems, feel free to test it out. Who knows? You could leapfrog ahead of industry behemoths by interrupting what everyone takes for granted as “normal.”
5. Empower your employees to take action.
Your employees aren’t like any other group of employees in the universe. Collectively, they bring a fresh perspective to whatever you do. Give them the tools and freedom they need to guide your differentiation.
First, train employees to think like entrepreneurs and take ownership of their roles and choices. Give them the authority to solve problems, even if a supervisor isn’t available. Offering a wide latitude shows you trust them, and trust is a key aspect of employee engagement, which is rocky given the current climate.
Remember: Your workers are often clients’ first introduction to your brand. If they’re satisfied and excited, they’ll energize consumers to patronize your company. As an added benefit, happy and knowledgeable employees tend to attract other talented professionals. That means your company will continue to get better all the time as your business scales and your team expands.
It’s understandable to be daunted by the thought of trying to stand out in a saturated market. Nevertheless, don’t allow yourself to wallow in the belief that you can’t possibly gain significant attention as the “new kid” or “little guy.” Becoming the center of attention (in a good way) is within your grasp if you reimagine what’s possible.