Any business out there will tell you that the key to success is providing a product or service that stands out from the rest. Easier said than done though, right? In some ways, it is. But, here are some tried and true ways to stand out that still work, even today.
Stop Trying To Compete So Hard
If you’re in a crowded market, the worst thing you can do is try to compete directly with others in your industry – especially if they’re already well established. It won’t work. Could you imagine an upstart trying to be like Walmart or Amazon? It wouldn’t work.
The newbie would get crushed.
Instead, you need to think horizontally. What can you do that your competition isn’t doing? Fill a void. Even large companies can’t do everything well. In fact, the larger they are, the harder it is to be the best at any one thing. Take Walmart, for example. It struggles to be the best provider of any one product or service. It has to settle for mass appeal.
If you step in and offer a handmade or custom solution, a big box store can’t compete with that.
If you have a website, are you using it to its full effectiveness? Go global. Most people think that, if they live in the U.S., they can only market to a U.S. crowd. That’s not true. Translate your website into different languages and make sure your payment processor accepts multiple currencies and, suddenly, you’re an international business.
And, don’t skimp out on the translation by using automated solutions. The advantages of a human translation service far outweigh the costs; they’re flat out better than automated solutions.
For one, you can lose the meaning of words and phrases in automatic translations. Some words and phrases don’t translate well so you have to find a different way to get your point across. A human will know how to do this. A computer won’t.
Turn Your Ideas Into Products People Can Use
If you have an idea, you have nothing. Turn your ideas into something people can use, and you might have something. Look at one of the most famous recent examples: Apple. Neither Steve Jobs nor Apple invented the speech recognition technology they have (Siri). They purchased it from another company that had developed it.
Some believe that Apple even “dumbed it down” afterwards, but that’s besides the point. The point is that Apple bought up the idea and then turned around and made it useful for customers. Before Apple, Siri was a cute toy.
Most people think of Apple as innovative, but the company actually sits on technology before fully developing it in its own products. That’s because technology is inherently risky. It’s constantly changing. So, the first iteration of a product or service is usually pretty buggy.
An established company like Apple won’t want anything to do with it. They want to work on it and develop it until it’s stable. Then, release it.
In that sense, Apple is a better marketer than it is an innovator. It repackages ideas into useful products and services. Pretty much every technology that Apple has adopted has become better because of the company’s backing and a lot of that has to do with the development and marketing of those technologies in such a way so as to make them incredibly useful to the customer.
Carve Out A Niche
Another lesson to learn from Apple is to differentiate yourself by inventing your own product category, name your products, and define a niche. If you notice, Apple doesn’t make computers. It makes iMacs and Macbook Pros and Macbooks and Mac Minis.
Sure, people do call them computers, but they have a name.
And, the specs never really seem to line up with competitors’ specs. When a competitor offers 4Gigs of RAM, apple will offer 5 or 6. It will change the video card slightly, do some customization on the processor, or tweak the internals to make it just a bit different – different enough that a direct comparison is impossible.
Do this in your own market and it will be impossible for people to compare your product with a competitor’s. They will never be able to claim that you charge “too much” for your stuff. Instead, you can set the standard. You can set the price, and let others determine for themselves whether they want to buy in.
Sell Value, Not Price
This is another mistake new entrepreneurs make. They try to make things too cheap. That worked a while ago when the cult of free app creators wanted everything on the Internet to be free. Then, they figured out that they had to make money somehow (you can’t live in your parent’s basements forever after all).
So, they started supporting free apps with advertisements and in-app purchases. Not only does this turn off a lot of customers, it attracts a certain kind of customer – the kind that’s always reluctant to pay for quality.
When you set the expectation low (free products and services), customers tend to want all your best stuff for free. They won’t respect you. They can’t.
So, instead of selling on price, you should sell on value. Don’t be afraid to maintain your high prices, or even raise them. Just make sure you’re offering better quality or value than everyone else.
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