You want to grow your business but you can’t seem to break into new territory: new clients, new services, new audiences.
I think this is a common challenge, especially in oversaturated online industries. I’m talking to you, designers, coaches, virtual assistants and the like.
The thing is, we’re all different. Even when we look the same. But we need to find ways to differentiate ourselves from our competition so we can grow. That doesn’t necessarily mean that we need to niche down as many business gurus would have us believe. (Sure, a targeted niche helps. But it’s not absolutely necessary.)
Differentiating yourself doesn’t mean that you have to force the quirkiness or be incredibly brazen. I see a lot of that out there and it’s turned into something that’s so commonplace that it’s a little annoying.
Instead, focus on the authentic, strategic ways you can stand apart from your competition–and let those new clients come to you. With some additional work on your part, of course.
[bctt tweet=”Want to grow your business? It’s time to differentiate yourself from others.” username=”AbbyMHerman”]
Know Your Competition
I’ll all about community over competition, but let’s face it: you still have others who could win the client over you. Know who those people are and connect with them. As in really connect. Have a virtual coffee chat, partner on a fun project, ask for and give advice, become one another’s go-to resources when working with a challenging client.
When you get to know others in your industry, you start to learn how your services and way of doing business is different from others. This allows you to refer clients who would be better served with someone else, and to learn a bit about your field. It’s also a great way to grow your professional circle and zones of genius.
Decide How You’re Different
When you get to know your competition, you really figure out how you’re different from others. Your competitors likely have different packages and services, focus on different areas of your industry and prefer to work with certain types of clients.
How you conduct business could be your differentiating factor, such as offering boutique services or only offering a certain type of service. Do you serve the end client, or do you prefer to act as a subcontractor and only work with project managers? Some businesses like in-person, intensive contact with clients while others are happier working virtually. Know what sets you apart from others and market that!
[bctt tweet=”Decide how you’re different from everyone else in your industry and market that.” username=”AbbyMHerman”]
Know Your Audience and Their Pain Points
Getting really clear on who your audience is will help you to identify their pain points–so you can solve them. Because, let’s face it: Your audience is coming to you and hopefully paying you for a solution. Not only do you need to have that solution for them, but you also need to let them know that you understand (and can empathize with) what’s holding them back.
You learn who your audience is by knowing who you’re attracting with your message (and tweaking that message if you’re not attracting the people who you love working with). Get to know their pain points by listening to them. Ask them questions, stalk them (in a non-creepy way) on social media, join Facebook groups where they hang out. Know what it is your audience is struggling with so you can market your solution to them.
Put Yourself Out There
If you’re an online business owner, this can be the most challenging piece of the content marketing puzzle. Either you can’t think of what to create or you’re just so paralyzed thinking about putting yourself out there that…you don’t.
You wouldn’t be a business owner if you weren’t a risk-taker. I think all of us have a need for that adrenaline rush from time to time. So embrace that! Take some risks and put yourself out there so you can educate your audience. You can do this in so many ways; blogging and YouTube are some of the most common. But podcasts, online summits and even speaking at conferences are great ways to take the story a little bit further. (And don’t write off visibility because you’re introverted; I am too and I’ve done all of the above and then some. It gets easier. I promise!)
[bctt tweet=”It’s hard to put yourself out there to start. Top tip? Just do it; it gets easier.” username=”AbbyMHerman”]
Provide Extraordinary Service
Have you ever done business with someone and were just “wowed” by the service you received? On the other hand, have you ever been so disappointed by a business that you’ve vowed never to return? You likely have in both cases, and it’s important to take note of both experiences for the benefit of your own business.
When you provide exceptional service, you turn your clients and customers into brand ambassadors. Because when they have a great experience, they’re going to tell their friends about it–who will then tell their friends and so on. Not only that, but you’ll also be able to gather testimonials from raving fans, which is exactly the social proof you need to attract more ideal customers.
Consistency is one of the keys to success. You need to be consistent with producing quality content for your audience and consistent in following up with prospective, current and past clients.
I’m sure it’s no surprise to you that online business owners aren’t always the best at following up. I think many of us are easily distracted or simply don’t have the systems in place to provide exceptional follow-up. (Totally hanging my head in shame here!) But if you want to stand out, it’s time to develop the systems that keep you top-of-mind and in front of your audience without being an annoying pest. Does it really work? I signed two new clients this month alone because I followed up a week after our initial call.
Every time you do something that differentiates you from your competition, you open yourself up to new opportunities for growth–personally and professionally. You’re pushing yourself just a little bit more outside your comfort zone, which gives you more courage to grow in your business.
If you’re going to stand out in today’s saturated marketplace, differentiation is critical. It’s not important that you make a host of changes all at once, but steadily work toward standing out, one step at a time.
Once you differentiate yourself, your business is likely to grow. That means more clients or a different caliber of clients. Find out how to grow in your business without hiring new team members.