Every entrepreneur who conceives of his/her first business idea likes to think that it is original, world changing, and one-of-a-kind to boot. Of course, the reality is that truly original ideas are far and few between – chances are that a number of bright people around the world have already thought of your idea in some form or another (and might already have started work on it!).
Worse still, even if you had a truly unique idea, it is highly likely that many copycat competitors would start springing up the moment your business name appears on Techcrunch – just look at Flappy Bird and its colorful variety of copycats.
That being said, there are several successful businesses that managed to stick their flag at the top of their industries not by virtue of being the first mover. An oft-quoted example of this is probably Google, who was well behind other early search engines such as AltaVista and Yahoo back in the day. Similarly, Facebook was two years late to the social networking game in a time when Friendster and MySpace were dominating the scene.
As you know, today Google and Facebook are far ahead of the pack. The question is, how did they manage to stand out in their respective high-competition industries?
The simple answer: product differentiation. While this might seem like common sense, in practice many business owners fear going too far off the beaten path. Most tend to be vague in their so-called “unique selling proposition”, rendering their uniqueness to be, well, not so unique after all.
Here are 3 ways to help your business to go the whole mile and be different in a way that will make you stand out proudly amongst the sea of competition in your industry.
1. Solve one (or two) specific problem(s)
A problem that many businesses have today is in trying to do too many things. A business that tries to tackle too many challenges faces the problem of spreading out its resources too thinly, and at the same time compromises its brand messaging as well.
The solution to this is to be laser focused on solving one or two problems that customers in your target industry face. In doing so, you can concentrate all your efforts on making your product the truly remarkable and outstanding solution provider to your industry’s pain points – and you will gradually be known as such.
Joel Gascoigne, founder of Buffer, demonstrated this admirably when he started up Buffer with a single solution in mind: to help people to tweet more consistently. Nothing more, nothing less. Today, they are known as the one of the best social media productivity tools out there that helps users time their social media posts “to a tee”.
2. Be known as speciality experts
Thought leadership is something that many businesses aspire to, but often fall short of. No doubt, it is incredibly hard to become known as a thought leader, as this requires the company (or its representative) to be at the very cutting edge of the industry – or does it?
Gregory Ciotti, content strategist at Help Scout, points out that sometimes being the best doesn’t quite help to make you stand out from the others who are quite simply trying to do the same – be the best as well! He suggests that companies should instead strive to be different by changing the game – become the place you must go for ________, rather than being the best place there is generally.
In other words, instead of striving to become an expert in a vague topic such as marketing, you could narrow down and focus on being a thought leader in a niche within marketing, such as content marketing. Find a speciality niche within a broader topic that is popular in your industry, and place your stamp of authority on it.
3. Find the right balance in pricing
There’s one thing that all customers desire, regardless of the industry that you’re in: a high-quality product or service at a reasonable price. The “reasonableness” of the price of your product or service is subject to wide-ranging opinion, but it is your duty to find the right balance – this will ultimately make or break the popularity of your product.
One way to go about it is to shoot for the upper end of the spectrum. In other words, the “Apple way”, which is, as you can guess, to use top-notch, expensive materials to create high-quality products, hence justifying the equally high price – and make sure your customers know what they’re paying for.
Taken from: theguardian.com
However, it is worth noting that Apple’s pricing strategy has seen some negative consequences in the past year. The reason for this is that Apple “no longer sells products at price points that appeal to the growth segment of the market”.
With that in mind, it might be more prudent to set pricing according to what you estimate customers would be willing to pay – or maybe even a bit more, depending on how great your product is.