How to Create a Stand-Apart Brand in a Crowded Industry - Amber Hurdle | Globally Recognized Leadership & Personal Branding Expert

How to Create a Stand-Apart Brand in a Crowded Industry

August 20, 2018

The hardest challenge for most new entrepreneurs is finding customers, especially in crowded industries. How can you get noticed and convince prospects to give you a try when you’re competing against more established brands?

Whether you’re selling a product or service, there are concrete steps you can take to stand out. I’ll share 5 of them in this post.

1. Differentiate through features.

One of the most powerful ways to stand apart from competitors is through the features of your product or service.

In the commodity-esque car rental industry, Enterprise set themselves apart by famously promising “We’ll pick you up.” In the crowded food delivery service space, Postmates stood apart by delivering more than just food — like dry cleaning, groceries, alcohol, and more.

A great way to discover opportunities for feature differentiation is to read reviews of your competitors’ products or services. 3-star reviews can be especially helpful because they usually mean customers were relatively happy with their purchase but wish a few things had been different. You can also survey your target customers to find out what annoys them about the solutions they’re using currently.

And when it comes to marketing your unique features, a great copywriting template to use is:

“My [PRODUCT OR SERVICE] is like [OTHER WELL KNOWN PRODUCT OR SERVICE] except [LIST THE KEY DIFFERENCES].”

This formula allows you to quickly explain the big picture of your business and then hone in on the ways your product is better.

2. Differentiate through pricing.

Some entrepreneurs don’t like being thought of as a “cheap” option. But differentiating through pricing can be a powerful strategy.

If you’re an up-and-coming leadership consultant, you’ll almost certainly struggle to find clients if you try charging the same rates as an experienced expert like John Maxwell. But by offering a similar service for a lower price, you can compete for the still-lucrative business of clients who can’t afford top-shelf help or are unwilling to pay for it.

And lower rates are only one way to differentiate based on price. You can also compete with your pricing model.

Kindlepreneur’s review of popular softwares for writing books offers us a great example.

As you can see, Scrivener, a well-known writing software, charges a one time fee. Ulysses, a competitor, charges an annual subscription fee. Meanwhile yWriter, a third book writing software, is free to use, but it invites users who appreciate the product to essentially “tip” the developer.

In the food delivery space, UberEats competes by not requiring a minimum order, GrubHub has no surge pricing, and Postmates offers a flat rate fee instead of charging based on distance and order amount. None of these companies markets itself as the “cheapest food delivery service,” but they all compete on price.

Ask your dream customers what annoys them about the way your competitors set their prices. That will give you clues to how you can differentiate through your own pricing model.

3. Differentiate by niching down.

Niching down is a form of differentiation where you tailor a product or service to a very specific group of people.

For example, imagine you want to sell an online course about how to be a better writer, but several well-known courses already exist on that subject. You could carve out market share by niching down and creating a course about how to be a better fiction writer, or you could niche down even further and create a course about how to become a better Sci-Fi writer.

Then, when a fiction writer is choosing which course to buy, yours will stand out by speaking directly to the customer’s goals.

To fulfill your marketing promises, a niche strategy might require some feature differentiation on the product development end, inspired by the specific needs of the group you’re trying to reach.

And to market this niche angle, a great copywriting formula is “My [PRODUCT OR SERVICE] is like [OTHER WELL KNOWN PRODUCT OR SERVICE] but specifically for [THIS TYPE OF PERSON].

Convert Kit (Now called Seva) does this by offering “email marketing for online creators.” Emma Johnson did it by writing a parenting book specifically for single moms.

And in case you’re wondering, it is possible to chase multiple target markets with the same product line. (Diet Coke is marketed to women, while Coke Zero was branded for men.)

Who could you target with your product or service?

4. Differentiate through location.

This strategy is pretty self explanatory, but some businesses, especially service-based businesses, can stand apart based on where they’re located or what regions they deliver to.

In the food delivery example, Grubhub and Postmates are similar services, but only Grubhub offers food delivery in Tulsa, Oklahoma. So for Tulsans, Grubhub would obviously win.

In the box-kit meals subscription space, Blue Apron and Hello Fresh are two popular competitors that send you the ingredients you’ll need to prepare tasty homemade meals. The companies are very similar when it comes to features and pricing. But according to Food Delivery Guru, HelloFresh delivers to 10 countries on multiple continents. Blue Apron only ships to the mainland United States. This means, for millions of potential customers, HelloFresh automatically beats Blue Apron simply by being available in their area.

Is there a location where your business might be able to compete more easily?

5. Differentiate with a reputation for quality.

This is not the quickest-to-use strategy in this post, but it can be one of the most powerful. The marketplace is full of false promises, bad products, and indifferent service providers. Developing a reputation as someone who keeps their word and cares about their customers can give you a huge advantage over greedy competitors.

After completing a consulting project, I once had a client tell me, “You did exactly what you said you were going to do.” In some ways, I think this is the highest compliment your product or service will ever receive, and it’s what you should aim for every time.

You can do this!

Whether you’re starting a business or simply looking for more customers, finding ways to stand apart will be crucial to your success.

None of these strategies are things you have to do. For example, if you’re successfully attracting a diverse group of customers, you might not want to niche down. But I hope this list gives you some ideas to try when your business is struggling to get the attention it deserves.

 

About the Author

Alex Hubenthal

Bookscaping

Financial Acumen

Alex Hubenthal is the Owner of Bookscaping. His mission is to educate 100,000 small business owners in small business finance so they can not only thrive in their businesses but in their personal lives as well. Alex has helped his clients grow their revenue, found ways to help them reduce their tax bill, and has coached them on finding ways to standardize their business to add more to the bottom line.

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