We know – the question posed in the title is a tough one. But we say it with love. And we share it from our own struggles with this topic.
It’s a crowded marketplace these days. Competition is fiercer than ever. The bad news is that it’s probably only going to get more vicious in the future.
Many small businesses aren’t prepared to compete amidst all the noise. They don’t stand out. They get lost. They remain obscure.
Brand positioning cures a common ailment
The reason for this is a common ailment. It’s easy to catch. We call it “me too but.” (Note just a single “t” there!)
It must be contagious because this sickness exists in entire industries. Just pick an industry with mostly small businesses and look at a few websites. What do they scream?
“Me too, but…” Me too, but better…or faster…or cheaper
Now understand, they may not literally say those words. But that’s the message they convey – because they can’t point to any one thing that makes them different.
As with websites, you see it in their ads. You often see essentially the same ad with a slightly different look.
You have to position your brand in the minds of your customers and prospects. You have to be distinct to stand out from the crowd of competitors.
We spend most of our lives trying to fit in. To succeed in business , you have to stand out.
If you don’t, you’re destined for mediocrity at best. Sure, you may eek out a meager living. But you certainly won’t thrive.
Examples of brand positioning done well
So what makes you better?
Think about your organizational strengths. Really think about them. Be honest.
Do you serve your customers better? And keep in mind if you answer “yes”, you sound like every job applicant who says they’re a “people person.”
Or maybe it’s your approach. Your competitors are focused on activities – proposals, closed contracts, and the like.
In the meantime, you invest significant resources discovering what your customers really need and want. So your proposal may be for a higher price, but you can show your customers that they’ll spend less in the long run.
This is not sequential. As you think about your strengths, also think about your competitors’ weaknesses.
What don’t they do well? What don’t they do at all? Can you do it well? It doesn’t have to be complex. Sometimes the smallest details make a huge difference.
For example, let’s say you own a business that works in people’s homes. Do your people wear booties? Do you put down runners so your people don’t track up the customer’s floors?
[George] It sounds so simple. But we started wearing shoe covers years ago when I owned a heating-and-cooling company. It was almost always the one thing customers commented on. It left an impression – we cared for their home more than any other service company they had ever seen.
[Mary-Lynn] Of course, your competition will probably catch up so you should always be trying new things to maintain your competitive advantage. You may start with the booties. But then add the floor runners down the road.
Keep looking for ways to reinforce your point of distinction. But it may not be what you do. It may be who you do it for.
Who doesn’t your competition serve? Or who do they serve poorly?
Your competitors may be great at one particular market, but you do a fantastic job with another one.
Great businesses avoid “me too but.” They constantly think about differentiating themselves. They have a reason to exist in the mind of their market.
Focus on being distinct so you break through the noise, attract more customers and make more money more dependably. That’s BIGG success!
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