Over the past few years financial crisis and climbing unemployment rates have encouraged more and more people to start up their own business ventures. From fresh-faced students looking for an alternative way to start their professional journey, to the older generation who want to keep earning a crust for as long as possible. This fighting spirit is fantastic but it also means that the marketplace is filling up and you need to know how to stand out in the crowd.
Keep a close eye on the competition – A bit of healthy competition is great to keep you on your toes and inspire you to constantly adapt your business to any changes in competitor behaviour and consumer habits. In the same way you can take inspiration from what the competition is doing well, you can also identify and learn from their mistakes. Pay attention to what their customers are complaining about and capitalise on it by offering a solution.
Generate an irresistible USP – The annoying thing about customers is that they always want more, more, more and there’s nothing they love more in the world than a good old freebie. If you’re going to keep them on side, you’ve got to come up with the goods. This doesn’t have to come at a huge cost to you either. Simply imparting some free industry advice or a one-off complimentary offering of your product or service is enough to keep ‘em sweet and have them choosing you over your competitors. Going above and beyond will pay off in the long run.
Create a strong brand image – Branding is who you are and the perfect way to manipulate how existing and potential customers perceive you. A business brand identity includes everything from your logo design and business card format to the networking events you’re attending. Getting this right will enable you to ensure that you’re making an impression on the right demographic and posing a serious threat to your competitors.
Reinvent your business regularly – Although branding is something that needs to stay consistent in order to consolidate the image and nature of your business, regularly reinventing the way you deliver and market your goods is a great way to stay one step ahead in the game. Going back to the drawing board every now and then will allow you to rework your business in a way that entices new custom and keeps your existing audience satisfied. The last thing you want is a collection of bored customers who begin straying elsewhere in search of the next best thing.
Employ the right people – The people you employ are essentially going to become the face of your business so it’s important to put some serious consideration into who is part of your workforce. You need to cultivate a team of industry-savvy, pro-active and clued-up employees who are going to work in harmony, complement your company ethos and deliver impeccable customer service. Take your time with the recruitment process so you can find the right ones for you.
Don’t be afraid to break some rules – Who is the classmate you remember most, from way back when during your high school years? Is it the one who followed the crowd, stuck religiously to what the teachers said and never put a toe out of line or is the one who often found themselves standing outside the classroom trying to make their classmates laugh with their latest fictitious fantasy? Probably the latter and this is because breaking conventions and stepping outside the box is what really gets you noticed.
We’re not suggesting that you wreak havoc and get yourselves a bad reputation but a daring divergence from the norm might be what it takes to get ahead in the competition. Try using playful emoji symbols in your social media posts or experimenting with an unusual marketing campaign.
Know how to price your goods – You can have the most stylish branding in the industry and a great USP but if the price ain’t right, you aren’t going to be able to drum up the right quality or quantity of custom. If your products are services are too expensive then you won’t be able to generate enough income to cover your overheads, nevermind make a profit. On the other hand, competitive low-cost prices are one of the most popular ways to lure in customers but if you pitch them too low, you’ll undersell yourself and project the wrong brand image.
Check out our handy guide to pricing here.