In a world where competition is fierce and everyone seems to be offering a “me too” service or product, it’s important to find ways to differentiate your company from your competitors. But just how does one go about doing that without ending upright back in the “me too” department? While you could always try to compete on price, the fact is that price is a terrible way to compete because someone else will always undercut you. Here are five better ideas:
Go Way Over the Top
One way to make yourself different from your competition is to simply go way “over the top” as the old saying goes. In essence, this means that you offer so much and keep on offering so much that your customers would be completely insane to want to go to someone else. This doesn’t by the way mean that you offer super low prices.
Consider for example the new business I’m working on launching. I’m hoping in the next few weeks to launch a brand new business selling personalized websites in a box (this has nothing whatsoever to do with Quantum SEO Labs by the way and I’m not trying to sell anyone my sites yet. I’m merely using this as a good example).
Now I know that there are thousands of websites out there already offering so called “website in a box” deals. In essence the concept is that you offer a package deal where you get a ready made website (usually based around WordPress – I’m using WordPress too by the way). You can even buy a “website in a box” on Fiverr and I’ve even occasionally seem them offered cheaper than that.
I personally plan to charge a reasonable sum for my websites. I’m not going to disclose what it is, but the price will be high enough that you’ll not be buying it just for the heck of it but low enough that anyone who wants to a professional quality website which is ready made will easily be able to afford it even if they have an extremely tight budget.
So how am I going to “go way over the top” if not by offering dirt cheap prices? Simple – I’ve been researching and investing in dozens of plugins and themes for WordPress which will give my customers everything they could ever want in a website.
And I do mean everything. I have built my sites to the point where I simply cannot think of anything anyone would want to add which I haven’t already put in. Forums, membership sections, fancy buy buttons, the ability to build custom squeeze pages, it’s all there. My package will literally be a complete website in a box where you simply buy the SEO services (Yasir can help you there) and watch the money come in.
I’m also offering a large number of bonuses which few others are offering and which will mean that even if you already have a website you like, you’d be crazy not to buy a site from me just for all the free bonuses I’m offering.
Again, not trying to sell anyone my sites yet and there’s no link here because of that (this also isn’t my own site and as such, I try not to sell my own services or products here out of respect for Yasir, who is a great guy and an expert at SEO). I’m merely trying to illustrate what I mean by “going way over the top.”
This method means that you simply offer such an incredible value that while you may not be offering the cheapest deal around (let’s face it – I can’t compete with the Fiverr crowd on price, but the ready made sites they offer are a bad joke compared to what I’ll be offering) your customers would be crazy to buy the cheap junk your competition offers.
Aim for an Exclusive Clientele
This is not my personal philosophy. I’m much more egalitarian about things and believe firmly in offering things to the “masses,” but there is a lot to be said for this concept. In this scenario, I’d probably be offering the same stuff I’m offering above in my new website business. However, I’d be marketing it in a completely different way. The idea would be to aim at the crème de la crème of society.
The best example I can think of comes from one of my favorite TV shows, Frasier. Fans of the show may remember the episode where Frasier and his brother buy themselves a venerable old Seattle restaurant. There’s a line in that episode which I love. Frasier and Niles are talking about their plans for the new restaurant when their dad interrupts:
Frasier: We’ll make the place very, very exclusive. No sign on the outside, no advertisements and an unlisted phone number.
Marty (Their dad): Hey well don’t stop there; maybe you could post some guards on the roof who can shoot people as they try to get in.
The point is that they intended to make their restaurant a place that appeals only to the most exclusive people in society. In this method of separating yourself from your competition, you in essence position your company as being the province of the elite and you don’t go for every single customer. You have a waiting list and you offer your services only to the “beautiful people.”
There are some problems with this method of course. First and foremost, you need to generate buzz amongst the “right” people if you want to make your business seem super exclusive. It has to be the sort of place that the general public may have heard of but couldn’t imagine actually getting to ever use your services (think Rolls Royce for example).
Getting that buzz going amongst the right circles generally means that you offer it for free to certain specific people who will tell their friends about it but who will also agree to keep their mouths shut about having gotten the service or product for free. You then need to make your website appear as if it’s one which is very exclusive and which only the “right” people would even deign to visit.
However, if you can pull this off (again, it’s very tricky to do this correctly), you could easily turn your business into a cash cow because those who have the money to spend will spend it to get in on something exclusive which the general public doesn’t have access to. After all, nobody actually needs a $6,000 shower curtain or a jewel encrusted cell phone.
However, people do make these things and people do buy these things because there are people who want that kind of extreme exclusivity. If you can cater to that market, you’re unlikely to ever have to worry about being labeled as a “me too” kind of a company.
Get to Know Your Customers
This is something that I know Yasir does which is wildly different from what I’ve seen from most other SEO experts. In essence, he doesn’t just sell you a package of services and communicate through e-mail. Yasir’s philosophy is that he actually wants to get to know his customers personally. He’d rather have fewer customers whom he knows well than thousands of customers whom he can’t keep track of.
The idea here is that you basically take the personal approach with your customers. People still do value this, especially in a day and age when it’s become increasingly common for the professionals in our lives to spend 60 seconds with us (if we’re lucky) and then usher us out the door.
Doing this does require that you take the time to get to know your customers and it does require that you actually spend time learning something about them. One way to keep track by the way is to maintain a Farley File on your customers (I’m terrible at remembering names and details which is why I love the concept).
You also need a certain kind of personality to pull this off. Just as above where you need a certain amount of gumption to market yourself to the elite, here, you need a great deal of empathy. You need to be the kind of person who really does care about people and who genuinely wants to help them. Your customers will spot you being a phony otherwise.
However, if you are the sort of person who can genuinely get to know your customers and spend a lot of time with them then you will find that people will beat a path to your door even if you are a little more expensive. This is especially true if you work in a profession where such personal service and empathy is often lacking though it can work in any kind of business.
By the way, one way to do this is to publish an actual phone number and to answer the phone when people call. You could also offer an e-mail address which doesn’t get an automated response sent out to your customers but where you actually take the time to write back personally.
Be a Constant Innovator
One of the things I always admired about Steve Jobs was that he never actually invented anything completely new. He simply took existing ideas and made them much better than they already were. This happened even before the so called “second coming” of Steve Jobs and it’s also a great way to make your company stand out from the pack.
In essence, if you take a look at every Apple product that was created while Jobs was at the company, from the very first Apple Personal Computer to the Macintosh to the iPod, iPhone and iPad, they have one thing in common: Someone else beat Apple to the market.
Who actually created the first personal computer is a matter of some debate however one thing is very clear: it was NOT the Apple II. Dozens of other models, including computers with keyboards and microprocessors were created before it. In fact, the world’s first graphical computer (along with the world’s first mouse) was created several years before at Xerox though it too arguably was not the first PC.
However, the reason that the Apple II and later the Macintosh were successful was because they were better than their predecessors. Of course, probably the best example of this concept is the iPod. There were MP3 players before it. I even owned one of the first ones. However, the iPod was the first to go mainstream because it was simply better than the rest.
Even now that Steve Jobs is no longer with us, Apple continues to work hard to be a constant innovator and that’s what makes them stand out from the crowd.
Of course, you don’t have to run an Apple Inc. to do this. Simply coming up with your own twist on a common problem in your own niche is often enough to be an innovator. The key however is to keep innovating so that people know you as the standard bearer when compared with the competition.
Get a Patent
Finally, if all else fails, consider getting yourself a patent on whatever idea you have which makes you stand out from your competitors. In essence, by doing this, you can stand out because you’ll be the only one who can legally sell the product you have on offer.
A good example of this is the Airmax pillow. I picked up one of these things a while back and I do find that it’s a lot more comfortable than most other pillows I’ve owned (although I still like the memory foam pillow at times). They’ve got a patent on their concept and as such, while there are some pillows which are similar to it on the market, none have quite the same design and that allows them to stand out from the competition.
Look, the bottom line of all these things is to find the thing that you think will make your company unique and then to push hard for that to become a kind of a “brand” for you so that people identify you as being unique and worth buying from. Otherwise, you could always try to compete on price to make your company seem different from your competitors (and lose your shirt while doing so).