Many business owners try to copy their competitors. The real value of learning about your competitors is in understanding two things. The first is to understand how your competitors organize themselves. What are their business processes? The second thing to understand is who your competitor’s ideal client is. What type of customer chooses them?
Be different from your competitors in meaningful ways that are of value to your ideal client.
This section will help you set yourself apart from your competitors by:
- Understanding your market position
- Writing a Unique Value Proposition, and
- Creating a company vision statement
Understanding Your Market Position
If you are already in business, ask your customers to tell you why they chose you. Why do they stay as customers? Why do they refer you to their friends?
Your difference from your competitors must be truly unique. This difference is called your market position. It is not enough to say that you provide great service. Great service is an expectation, and everybody says they provide it whether they do or not.
What is your unique value?
There are many ways your business can give a unique value to your customers.
Can you offer a product that is so unique or trendy that people only connect your business to it? Can you boost your product by offering a valuable service with it? An example of where this has been done successfully is with Peleton: a stationary bike or treadmill paired with a subscription for virtual fitness classes.
The same goes for a service. Often this can be the packaging of a service as a product. Are you providing a service that is billed on an hourly rate? Perhaps you can market this service based on an outcome that has defined results and a fixed package price. This is a highly effective way to set your service offering apart from others. Remember to give the service a powerful name!
Carve out a special place in your industry. Become the expert in your area. A nice bonus to doing this is you can usually raise your prices dramatically when you specialize in this manner.
Many times, you can create your industry niche by creating a new solution to an established industry. Phone Apps designed for ease and convenience, such as Uber and Skip the Dishes, have disrupted the taxi and restaurant business.
Solve a Problem
A great way to be different from your competition is by solving a problem for customers that is not being solved by your competitors.
A Unique Value Proposition (UVP) explains what sets your business apart from your competitors. A UVP should answer three things:
- How will your solution solve your customers’ problem?
- What are the specific benefits?
- Why should your target customers choose you over the competition? Is there something that customers in your market seem frustrated about? A good value proposition should speak to the emotions of your customers. It should be a statement that your customers understand.
“Our team of experienced tradespeople helps you sleep at night by guaranteeing your project will be completed on time and on budget.”
“We help busy parents stay calm on Prom night by dry cleaning and altering their teenagers’ dress clothing in advance.”
Looking to the Future
Next you will need to create a vision statement. Vision statements are often confused with mission statements, but they are not the same thing. A vision statement describes where you want to be in the future and is often one or two sentences long. A vision statement describes your business’ purpose.
A mission statement is generally an internal document describing what your company does and what values it stands for. A great vision statement answers the question:
“If I could wave a magic wand and see my company’s future in 3 years, how would my company be impacting the (world, community or country?)”
Create a company vision statement:
Look at the following examples of company vision statements. What do you notice?
Tesla – “To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”
IKEA – “Our vision is to create a better everyday life for many people.”
Nike – “Bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world. (*If you have a body, you are an athlete.)
McDonald’s – “To be the best quick service restaurant experience. Being the best means providing outstanding quality, service, cleanliness and value, so that we make every customer in every restaurant smile.”
Oxfam – “A world without poverty.”
You may have noticed that these vision statements are short, clear, and look to the future. They are also a general, long term goal that is inspiring. Try to think about these points when you write your company’s vision statement.
You are about to discover how all your hard work and research will help you when you move to the next section “Defining your Brand”. Your UVP and vision statement will help your business stay focused on the emotional messages you wish to send to your customers.
Before you read the next section, let’s review the activities and learning so far:
- You are a member of a unique community called a diaspora. A diaspora is an example of a market segment. It is a set of ideal clients that large corporations identify to market their products and services to.
- Marketing is a process that looks like a funnel. The marketing funnel shows how customers learn about your business. It demonstrates how customers go from knowing about your business to buying your products and services.
- Not everyone is a potential customer. It is important to understand the customer market segments for your products or services and create ideal client profiles.
- Researching your customers helps you understand the emotions they use when they make a purchase.
- Researching your competition helps you understand who they are and how you can be different from them.
- Creating a UVP and vision statement helps your business stay focused on emotional messages.