The internet’s reach knows no bounds, which is part of its magic as well as its challenge. Setting yourself apart in a black hole of information and opportunity can seem insurmountable. But differentiating yourself and your business is a skill that can be learned. Supported by the right tools and techniques, you can carve out your niche, earning the customers and loyalty you crave.
1. Focus on Articulating Your Unique Advantage
You may know why you started in your line of work, but why should your customers care? Shifting your mindset into that of your customer will be uncomfortable at first, but give this exercise a chance. State your product or service offerings out loud, one by one. Then, challenge them by asking “so what?” Write down your service and responses on a whiteboard or notepad to keep track until you’ve completed your list.
In the end, you should be able to identify what makes you special or unique. Sometimes, it’s the way you do things that’s different, and other times it’s you that’s the star. For example, a lawn care provider keeps customers’ yards looking great, but you help educate homeowners to maintain and treat seasonal problems at home, like mole infestations and crabgrass growth. They can hire you for the additional work, but they can also save money thanks to the education you provide.
Use these unique features of your approach and service options to your advantage. Partner with a digital marketing agency to break down each component and articulate them for your audience. Experts can help you develop a voice that resonates with your customers and provides consistency and command in your industry.
2. Develop Shareable Content
Now that you know what makes you unique, it’s time to tell the world. Content is king, and taking the time to use what you now know about your unique offering is essential. Build a content library across each product or service you have to offer. Develop a brand kit that includes fonts, colors, and phrases to maintain consistency and build trust. Stick to these standards in every medium and on every platform where you share information.
As a small business, it’s important to work smart as you develop content. Identify where you’ll share your information and what platforms you’re going to invest your time and energy into. Social media sites like Facebook and Instagram are almost essential and often the deciding factor for whether your business looks legitimate. Claim your Google My Business page to update contact information, hours, and service offerings. Bring everything back to your website and social pages to develop a true north for your business.
Use your platforms to do more than sell — educate your customers on an issue or new opportunity, leading them to your offering as the solution. Focus on creating great content that’s helpful, engaging, and interesting. While you should aim to create quality content, authenticity is the primary driver of success. Operate with a mindset of helping your customers solve a problem, and you’ll come across in the right light.
3. Create a Conversation Among Your Target Buyers
A key term in social media is engagement, and it’s more than just a metric to track. Engagement indicates interest, and in business, interest from customers means sales. But just as you asked the question “so what?” earlier, so too should you do it on social media. Instead of pushing out me-centric information, incite conversations within your following. Once you’ve identified what makes you special and developed content, it’s time to spark a conversation about what you know.
If you’re an auto-body shop owner, share a video about how customers can check their vehicle before a road trip. Show viewers what to check and what to look for, speaking to them like a friend. Throughout, ask questions about problems they’ve had on a road trip, encouraging them to share in the comments. Once your video is posted, go back and answer questions and respond to those who engage.
Social media sites prioritize pages and creators who engage with their audience. Remember, the purpose of these sites is to create a community around shared ideas and interests. The concept doesn’t go away when you’re managing your business page, especially as social media advertising has taken over. Encourage followers to share your content and tag similar pages and accounts relevant to your business. This practice can introduce your business to potential customers who’ve already expressed interest in similar content.
Show Up Where and How Your Customers Need You
Most people aren’t wandering around the world, just hoping to be sold a new product or pitched a service. In reality, most people would scoff at pushy sales tactics, instead preferring to research independently before making a decision. That’s why being right where customers need you to be is critical to your success.
Be flexible on what “showing up” looks like, especially as digital marketing trends and customer preferences change. Enter the marketing side of your business with curiosity and an intent to connect and help your customers. Over time, they’ll come to know and trust you as an expert in your field. And when they’re in the market to buy, you’ll be the only name they’ll think of.