How To Differentiate Your Small Business In The Big World

by Lauren Schneidewind on January 13, 2017

Small business owners and entrepreneurs know how dispiriting it can be trying to succeed in a highly competitive market. Usually, the market is already crowded with companies who are making efforts to launch a great idea or product or service, which is similar to yours. That’s why your business should be differentiated from the millions out there.

First, you need a strategy. Surprisingly, many small companies and even large ones don’t have a strategy. Even if you work very hard every day, without a strategy you will do nothing more than survive.

To develop a winning strategy, you need to ask yourself these two important questions:

What is the market in which my business is going to compete?

How is my business going to be different than my competitors?

As a small business entrepreneur, you most certainly don't have the marketing budget of the big players who order TV commercials, aimed to impress huge audiences. So, you need another way of creating a memorable brand that can gain loyal customers. How do you do that? Here are three brand basics:

Outstanding logo

Having a recognizable logo that is original and even fun is a primary branding tool. Find a skilled designer. Don’t be afraid to invest in a logo that will help people easily differentiate your company in the ocean of businesses.

Target your market

You need to ask yourself who your product or service is designed for - children, women, men, people in their 20s, seniors. What are the characteristics of the people who will use your product or service? They could be vegetarians, animal lovers, tech guys or artists.

Consistent image

Once your company has its distinctive logo and you have your target market, you need to maintain a consistent voice or image everywhere your business is promoted or presented. This is a long-term effort that is vital for the differentiation of your brand. How do you accomplish that?

Here are 7 steps for differentiating your brand:

  1. What is driving your business?
    Think of your business as a person. Then define that person’s beliefs and character. Next, what is its purpose? The answers to these questions help you create the emotional motivation of your brand for the related communication to your audience.

  2. Focus on long-term relationships with your customers.
    It’s important to be honest in what you offer customers regarding quality, price, customer service, and integrity. What expectations does your business create? Stand by your promises to create trust. Be clear about your company’s values and practice them every day.

  3. Don’t try to copy the look of the big brands.
    Your business, although small, needs a unique identity. In the current digital era, customers are intelligent and able to find information easily. They will notice if you are trying to mimic a big chain or multinational corporation. Be independent and charm your audience by offering them something that your competitors don’t.

  4. Use flexibility as your weapon.
    While the big brands are overwhelmed by endless bureaucracy, you have the luxury to experiment. Use the fact that decision-making is done easily in your company and don’t be afraid to be innovative and daring. At the same time, keep standing for what you believe in.

  5. Emphasize the country of origin to gain interest.
    Take Switzerland for example. The country is known as the ultimate for chocolate and banks. It’s synonymous with precision and craftsmanship - producing the best watches in the world. Think of how to build brand associations with your country that will improve your reputation when it comes to service, manufacturing or innovation.

  6. Break the boundaries.
    Don’t be afraid to destroy the status quo in your industry or market and offer beyond the established rules. It could be something related to customer service and delivery, or your product and packaging - the opportunities are endless!

  7. Become an expert.
    Small companies can make it their purpose to become specialists in their sphere. When you focus on one product, one feature, one vital element, then your business will become a synonym of expertise.

As you see, you can use differentiation to provide added value to your business to compete against larger companies. The result is a win-win situation resulting in an increase in overall profitability and growth. So, don’t just be different, aim to be unique!

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