What is it that makes you notice one business over another? It’s not an insignificant question because the things that make you notice another business are likely the things that make someone else notice your business. And with 30 million small businesses out there, getting noticed is no small feat.
So how do you stand out from the crowd? Let me suggest that it is a four-step process:
Step 1. Offer Something Unique and/or Better: You do not have to be the best business in the world to be memorable, but you do have to offer at least one thing that is different/better/unique. So the first step in becoming a business that stands out from the crowd is to think about what it is you do that is different and better and begin to build around that.
Step 2. Create Your “USP” – Your “Unique Selling Proposition”: Your USP is a business strategy that builds on what it is you decided is unique about your business. Specifically, it is that one exceptional, identifiable difference by which you want the world to know your business. Example: My friends here at Concur make some very useful, powerful software that can help almost any small business be more efficient. That’s a great USP.
When FedEx started out, it let people know what its USP was with the tagline: “When you absolutely, positively have to get it there overnight.”
A great USP combines what it is you do best with what the market really needs. If you can fuse the two, you are well on your way to becoming memorable. Maybe you will become the “King of big screens” in your area or the “sedation dentist.”
As with FedEx, ideally, your USP can be boiled down to a one sentence tagline that you can build your business around.
Step 3. Market, and Then Market Some More: If you want to stand out from the crowd, you will have to let people know who you are, why you are unique, and why they should frequent your business. You get noticed by engaging in marketing and advertising that emphasizes your USP.
Step 4. Use Public Relations to Your Benefit: As I said, you do not have to be the best business to be memorable, but you must be unique and you must let people know you are unique. Take Lady Gaga for example. By no means the best singer around, Lady Gaga nevertheless stands out by being unique and memorable, and getting a lot of PR in the process.
Follow her lead. Get people in your area reading and hearing about you.
Do you see how these steps all build upon one another? Have something unique to offer (price, service, products, whatever), build around that, market, and let people know about it. That is how you start to stand out from the crowd.