Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Making Your Company Stand Out From the Competition

By: Bobby Gaglini

Proving to your customer base why they should choose you is a difficult that task that few succeed at. The margin between making it and faking it is slim, and setting yourself apart from the crowd is crucial. However, “standing out” is easier said than done. Nonetheless, for success, you must show your potential customers how you can offer more than your competitors. But before reaching that point, having basic marketing materials for your business is the best way to start out on the right foot. Creating cohesive business stationery items such as custom letterhead, checks and return address labels will give your company a strong, unified identity. When customers see them, they will easily be able to associate you with your products. Now, let’s break the mold…

Step One: Research and Analyze Your Own Company

This step focuses on breaking down your company’s ideals into fine details. Apart from making some money, you have most likely created your company because you believe you can offer something that people will use and enjoy. If you haven’t already conducted a SWOT analysis of your industry, it’s highly recommended that you do so. A SWOT analysis can often uncover a way to differentiate you from the competition.  So, create an outline, and focus on: the reasons you started the business, the ways people will benefit from your product or service, and why people will purchase it. From this solid list, you should be able to find three or four bold statements that define your company and why it will succeed.

Step Two: Research and Analyze Other Businesses.

Before prematurely assuming that success is inevitable, it’s a good idea to thoroughly scope out your competition to see how they function and why people use them. Start by finding two businesses on a local level, and two on a national or international level, and see what makes them stand out. To locate these “like companies”, use Hoover’s Similar Companies system. Why are these companies so popular? What makes customers flock to them over other companies? What is their marketing technique? Asking these questions will help you understand what it takes to run a successful business, and whether there are different paths to success within your business’ field.

Step Three: Compare and Contrast

Now comes the fun part—seeing how you can beat the big guys. After looking at your in-depth reports, see where you can improve on what the existing companies have done, and why people would enjoy this improvement. What can you offer that other companies have not tried? Are there any weaknesses within those companies even though they might be successful? When you create an idea that has not been tried yet, make a detailed list of why you think it would succeed. However, make sure you get a few more pairs of eyes to assist you. These important people can give you feedback on details you may have overlooked.

Taking a level-headed approach while researching is the best way to keep an objective view of your task at hand. This objectivity can help launch you into success by simultaneously giving you the viewpoint of a business owner and a potential customer. The idea that you believe will set you apart from the competition must be unique, and must be something that other people find irresistible. So work hard, and use these three steps to increase your chances for success.