What makes you different?
It’s rare to find a business that’s completely unique — offering a product or service no one else has. And if you’re not one of those rare businesses, you need to find a way to differentiate what you’re offering.
If you’re sitting in a whole marketplace of competitors, how do you elevate your business to stand out from the crowd?
And why would a customer choose your company over and above all those others?
To find the answers, you need to look at what makes your business different, exceptional and memorable.
Aim to be different, rather than better
Being better than your competitors is only temporary. It will only work until your competitors up their game, or another company enters the competition with its sights set on your crown.
What makes you different is yours alone and something your competitors can’t copy.
To truly understand your market and determine your place in it, you need to do your customer and competitor research. See what’s already out there and find the gap in the market you can fill.
To start you off, here are 10 differentiators you might be able to work with.
10 Key differentiators
1. How you do things
Your USP might be that you do things differently to your competitors — especially if it’s in a way that benefits your customers.
For example, you might offer a:
- Price promise
- Premium service
- Special guarantee
- Substantially quicker delivery
- Generous trial period or introductory offer.
2. The problem you solve
You might use this if the problem you solve for your customers is a tough one. It might be something you’ve had success with, but where your competitors have failed.
For example, if you:
- Have specialist knowledge or experience in a particular sector
- Can introduce businesses to markets or agencies that are notoriously difficult to access
- Have a product that does something extra, or special, that your competitors’ doesn’t
- Offer a product or service that’s customisable in ways your competitors’ aren’t.
3. Your brand story
People love to read a good story — and every brand story is unique.
When writing your story, show some personality and make a connection with your audience.
For example, you might tell them:
- Who you are and what your background is
- How and why you started your business
- Where your company name/identity came from
- What your goal or mission is
- What problems you faced and how you resolved them
- How the business evolved and became what it is today.
4. What you care about most
The things you care about most can help you make an emotional connection with your target customer — especially if they’re things your customer cares about too.
For example, you might show your business to be active in caring about:
- A charity or cause that’s close to your heart
- Your local environment or community
- Education and opportunities for young people.
5. What you stand for
Customers like to deal with ethical companies.
Some customers will actively boycott companies that are known for poor ethical practices, like not paying their taxes, being environmentally negligent or putting profits before people.
If your ethics are worthy of your target customers’ support, you can and should promote them.
For example you might be making a stand for:
- Green issues and sustainability
- Using fair trade products
- Fairness and equality
- Integrity and decency
- Employee wellbeing and opportunities.
6. Your specific market
Your differentiator might not be what you do, but who you do it for.
I recently encountered a copywriter who works solely with coffee shops. His knowledge and expertise in that market has made him the go-to person.
By niching down and offering your services to a very specific market, you could hit on something nobody else is doing and make it your own.
For example, you could become a specialist in dealing with:
- One specific industry or sector
- Local tradespeople
- Startup/micro/global businesses
- People with specialist requirements.
7. Your credibility
You might have more credibility in your field than your competitors.
This might be because of your:
- Transferrable skills
- Specialist knowledge/expertise
- Personal experience/understanding
8. Your look and style
If you work in an industry where every business looks very similar, presenting yourself differently can be a risk.
But if it’s done well, and with some thought, it can make you stand out.
And, out of all those others, it can make your business the one people remember.
9. The way you communicate
This covers everything from the clarity and ease of your communications to the tone of voice you use.
Businesses that communicate clearly and provide information that’s easy to read are more likely to be read than ones that don’t.
Tone of voice is the difference between lit, amazing and jolly good. It can make your business sound like a huge multinational or Bob from down the road. Like a plain-speaking mechanic or a fabulous fashionista.
Good communication is absorbing and addictive — people love to read it, watch it and listen to it. If they like what you do, they’ll keep coming back for more.
10. Why you do what you do
Your “why” is your purpose and reason for being. It should be at the heart of everything you do.
I wrote a whole article about this and you can read it here.
These are just ideas of things you could look at. The direction you choose to go in should be relevant and meaningful to the audience you’re targeting. This should only be decided when you have researched your ideal customer and competitors.
And your business isn’t restricted to one differentiator — you may have several, but consistency is key. Make sure they all fit together to create a clear and coherent brand.
Need some help to communicate your differences?
I’m Jenny Lucas, a generalist freelance copywriter who has worked with all kinds of businesses and helped them find their place in some very crowded markets.
If you need some help to work out how you’re different or to communicate those differences to your audience, please get in touch, I would love to help you embrace your uniqueness.