Let’s be honest – chances are that what your small business offers to its clients is not very much different from what is provided by dozens, probably hundreds of other companies (the number depends on what kind of business you run and whether it operates primarily locally or online). Unless you sell some unique product or service, you have to resign to the fact that you are just one out of many. That being said, why do you think people should choose you over all the other alternatives? If you take ten websites of your competitors and compare them with yours, does it look any different from them?
If not, you will have to settle for being a mediocre copy of other mediocre businesses. Want to challenge this status? Then read on and see what you can do to stand out.
1. Get in your customer’s shoes
Imagine that you are a potential client willing to buy what your business sells and try to carry out all the steps that such a person would do. Visit your website (and websites of your competitors). Try finding the information that would really interest you if you wanted to make a purchase. See if you can easily navigate the website. What is missing? What annoys you? Is it easy to do what a customer would want to do, or are there any redundant steps? If you find yourself feeling exasperation at some aspects of your website, look for the ways to eliminate or change them.
2. Think of a catchy name and memorable logo
These are going to be the first things about your business that people get to see. They will appear on everything from your website to custom mailer boxes with your merchandise, so make sure people are going to remember them once they see them. Many small business founders neglect putting significant effort here being too eager to get down to actual business and create something generic. It is a huge mistake because the name and a logo isn’t something that can be easily changed later down the road. Every day your business exists with its current name and logo adds up to its identity, and replacing them later on for something creative will mean that you will have to build up all the credibility and brand recognition from the ground up.
3. Provide outstanding customer service
Even if you are not in the service industry, make sure you treat each and every customer as the most important person in the world – because in a sense it is so. People like it when they are treated with respect and doted on, especially when they don’t exactly expect it. Once you’ve shown a customer that you really value him and are ready to do anything to provide top service, he isn’t going to forget it. Chances are, he will return to your company again and will tell his friends about you. Remember – 75 percent of clients believe customer support quality to be the true test of a business’ competence.
4. Be ready to admit your mistakes
It may sound counter-intuitive, but a successfully resolved problem makes for better and more memorable customer experience than an interaction that just went on without a hitch. If you buy something from a store and merely receive what you’ve paid for, you are likely to forget about it. But if you buy something, have some trouble with your purchase, and the store sorts things out in a quick, helpful and genuinely caring manner, you will remember to what lengths they are ready to go to satisfy their customers.
5. Target your audience precisely
Many small businesses make a mistake of targeting too broad an audience, thinking that with the kind of competition they have they cannot afford to lose a single potential customer. This approach, however, doesn’t bring the desired results, for there are literally dozens if not hundreds of other businesses targeting the same vaguely defined broad crowds. What you have to do is focus on a very narrow demographic where you are not going to have a lot of competition, and make sure you are head and shoulders above any competition that already exists in this niche. Instead of offering mediocre services for everybody, choose to offer superb services and products to a particular group of people – and they will not take long to notice you.
All in all, for a small business standing out, boils down to not doing things the way everybody else is doing them. If you manage to go against the current successfully, you will make the first step towards establishing a striking brand identity that will quickly set you apart from all your competitors.
Melissa Burns graduated in journalism from Iowa State University and was working as a marketing manager for 4 years in a large US IT company. Currently, she is a marketing consultant and an independent journalist. Melissa is passionate about covering topics on SEO, marketing, technology, and business innovations.
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