Sometimes it may seem hard to differentiate yourself amidst a sea of lookalikes.
This can be true for everything from coffee shops and restaurants to shoes. There is a reason that Nike and New Balance are able to sell their shoes for significant mark ups over other bland brands. They have acquired a following through their distinct brand.
For years, with Michael Jordan as the face of Nike, they had something that no other product had. Now, athletes flock to Nike in droves to wear their shoes and market their products. New Balance has made a reputation based on cost effective performance shoes. Now they are able to produce more expensive shoes because of the perception of quality. How does your business create a distinct brand? There are several ways to do so.
This is important to creating distinction between your business and the competition. There is only one Michael Jordan, and Nike was able to market him as well as any athlete in history. Even after being retired for quite a few years, Jordan's shoes are still among the best selling basketball shoes on the market.
Your business probably can't get a star athlete to hawk your products. There are other options. Everything from theme, color, packaging, and policy can create a unique advantage for your business.
Building off of the previous topic, the differences must be meaningful. Simply adding a thing or two to a product does not make it different. They must be substantial and meaningful differences. Depending on the product, this could be anything.
Small businesses have the opportunity to create a personal experience for their customers. Follow up calls and genuine care about the customer experience will help foster a sense of personal experience with the customer. While the company must make sure they are not pestering the customer, it is also a valuable source of feedback.
If the customer feels the experience is not personal, how could it be altered? Customer suggestions are a great source of knowledge for any small business.
Maintain the innovative spirit in the workplace. Innovation is what drives growth, and fostering that innovation and creativity is one of the best investments a firm can make. This holds especially true when your business is trying to differentiate itself from the competition.
Have rewards and contests to create a sense of competition and creativity. People can easily fall into a rut if things are not different and fun on a regular basis. Therefore, operate your business in such a way as to avoid these ruts and motivate employees to be creative.
Finally, the most important part of all this is probably the part where you turn your own perceptions into the customer's perceptions. In order for them to buy your product, they must buy into your ideas and perceptions. Advertising can help but the products must be genuinely different or your customers won't bite. The more educated people get from online forums and the internet, the more they are likely to see through transparent differences.