How lovely would it be to own a business in a vacuum – devoid of competitors, enjoying permanent, unwavering loyalty from consumers?
Unfortunately, that’s a pipe dream. The reality is that most businesses need to situate themselves in a crowded marketplace, vying for attention with several other companies who want the exact same thing: customers and their money.
Competitive benchmarking can get you part of the way, offering invaluable insights into how your business stacks up against similar enterprises. But the only way to make your business stand out is to use those insights actionably.
Here are a few suggestions from successful entrepreneurs and business consultants on how to make your business stand above the crowd.
Solve a Different Problem than Competitors
When Medium asked Regan McGee what made his company stand out, he told them plainly, “We’re solving a different problem compared to others in the industry.”
McGee’s company, Nobul, deals with real estate transactions – specifically, the relationships between real estate agents and buyers/sellers.
“The problem that everyone else is solving is getting agents deal flow,” says McGee. “The problem we are solving is getting consumers the best possible experience at the best possible price.”
His company enables buyers/sellers to input relevant criteria to find their ideal agent; then, agents can compete for the consumer’s business, often offering competitive commission rates.
McGee’s company is a textbook example of how solving a different problem – especially a problem that spotlights consumers’ best interests – can help a company gain real traction.
Prioritize Transparency, Accountability and Enablement
In industries defined by opaque pricing structures, gatekept resources and minimal accountability mechanisms, guess what stands out? It’s fairly obvious: transparency, accountability and enablement.
Recent research in the MIT Sloan Review indicates that the most admired brands among consumers are the ones that work hard to build trust. Transparent practices, accountability and customer enablement help a business gain trust. Trust begets admiration. And “When customers admire a brand, they are far more likely to be loyal to it.” The article indicates that not only will trust help a brand stand out, but it can also turn customers into loyal brand advocates.
Cultivate an Attractive Workplace Culture
“The Leader’s Guide to Corporate Culture,” a Harvard Business Review guide penned by four prominent execs and entrepreneurs, makes the case that company culture, directly and indirectly, influences your ability to stand out with consumers. The quality of your operations, business development, customer service, sales departments, etc., have real-world bearing on “organizational viability and effectiveness,” including your ability to stand out with consumers.
It’s essential, therefore, to cultivate an attractive workplace culture. Establish clear values, facilitate open lines of communication between management and employees, give back to your community, and make a point of celebrating employee successes.
Improve Your Storefronts
Notice that it says storefronts plural. Even in industries where an omnichannel approach isn’t widespread, your company will still need a sticky, intuitive website, and (in some cases) a similarly easy-to-use mobile app.
The contemporary consumer likes options in how they interact with a company. Moreover, they derive a lot of value from those interactions. If your website is garbled or challenging to navigate, the friction can potentially bury you under competitors. If you haven’t already, consider investing in a website with an intuitive UI/UX, as well as optional features like AR and chatbots.
To summarize, standing out in a crowd requires being different, gaining trust, attracting talent and optimizing your storefronts for visibility and convenience.