Service – Many times this can be the packaging of a service as a product. For example, consulting is often delivered on an hourly basis. By packaging a consulting engagement based on an outcome, with defined deliverables and a fixed package price, you'll effectively differentiate your service offering. Don’t forget to give the service a powerful name, too!
Product – Can you offer a unique or trendy product to associate with your business? Or, can you extend a valuable service to make that product more useful to the customer?
Market Niche – Carve out an industry or two and become the most dominant player serving that industry. A really nice bonus to this approach is that you can usually raise your prices dramatically when you specialize in this manner.
Offer – Can you become known by an offer you make? I know an accountant who offers his clients a 100% refund on their tax preparation fee when they refer four new clients. He's the "100% refund" tax guy.
Solve a Problem – Is there something that your market prospects fear or seem to believe is universal for what you do? If so, focus on communicating that you have the answer. Take painless dentistry, for example. By way of another example, I know a remodeling contractor who found that his clients most appreciated the way his crews cleaned up at the end of the day. Using this to his advantage, he began promoting the fact that he owned more ShopVacs than any other remodeling contractor on the planet.
Message of Value– Many times there are things you do that don’t get communicated, such as extra products and services. Your positioning might just rest on more effective communication about what you do. I know an office furniture dealer that has adopted the message, "We Make Your Business More Valuable," to communicate all the things that they bring to the party. Now, everything they do is focused on delivering on that statement. Everyone else in the industry just sells furniture.
Unique habit – I know a financial planner who has clients' cars detailed right in the parking lot when they come in for their annual review. They can’t help but rave to their friends about this unique touch.
Guarantee – Can you offer a guarantee so strong that no one else in your industry would dream of doing it? This one frightens some people, but you probably guarantee your work anyway; you just don’t say so. Come right out and boldly announce that you guarantee results and watch what happens!
Customer Service – Everyone knows the story of Nordstrom's over-the-top customer service. Create your own over-the-top customer response system and word-of-mouth advertising will flow liberally. One of the greatest ways to kick this off is to over-deliver on your first customer contact. Give them something more than promised; give them a gift, or give them a related service for free.
Against the competition – Many times you can create your category niche by looking for holes in your competitors' offerings. If everyone in an industry fails to address a certain problem, boldly grab onto solving that problem and use your competition as the point of difference.
Clues to uncovering your difference
Look at your current clients. What common elements exist among your best clients? Interview them to find out why they chose to work with you, why they stay, and why they refer more people to you. At the same time, study your competitors more closely. What do they do that you could do better? What don’t they offer that you could? How do they position themselves?
Communicate the difference
Once you find your chosen strategy or combination of strategies to differentiate your business, all of your subsequent advertising and promotion should be centered around shouting about that difference. This comes courtesy of businessknowhow.com.
As you can see there are a number of ways to make your business can stand from the crowd. Creativity and thinking outside of the box can really take your idea to the next level. It takes dedication, time, and passion in order to be one step ahead of your competitors. So, what will you do to make your business stand out?
Kriegel, Robert J., and Louis Patler. “2.” If It Ain’t Broke– Break It!: And Other Unconventional Wisdom for a Changing Business World. New York: Warner, 1991. N. pag. Print.
Jantsch, John. “10 Ways to Make Your Business Stand Out.” Business Know-how. N.p., n.d. Web.