Be Different

In most industries, competition is fierce. Because of this, it is important to do things to stand out from the competition. Do you? Simply doing whatever everyone else is doing isn’t going to get you noticed, attract customers, or positively impact the bottom line.

True, it is important to adhere to industry standards in a lot of ways. If you’re a fast food chain, you need to have a drive thru lane like all your competitors. If you’re an apparel retailer, you need to have an e-commerce site like everyone else. These things are called points of parity.

However, where you really create value is through what are called points of difference. These things allow you to set yourself apart from the competition, get attention, and hopefully be successful. So, if your business is in a rut, think about what you can do that your competitors are not. If none of your rivals have a loyalty program, consider starting one. If nobody delivers, think about doing that. If everyone else sells the same products, try adding some new product lines that are unique and attention getting.

The point is…find a different reason for customers to want to come to you. Contests. Funny mascots. Different pricing schemes. Silly advertisements. The possibilities are endless. Just sit down and brainstorm what you could do that others do not. And ask your employees and customers. They may have some good insight that you did not think of.

Talk To Your Customers

Talk to your customers. Seems so simple and obvious. But, it may not be. When I say talk to them, what I mean is get feedback from them. What do you like? What don’t you like? What would you change if you were in charge? These are very broad, open ended questions that have endless possible answers. However, the feedback you could receive could be invaluable.

I worked for a company once where we regularly called and visited our customers to get feedback. We then used that feedback sometimes to change our marketing activities. This allowed us to be more successful at our jobs by tailoring what we did to our market.

If you value marketing, then you know that your business centers around your customers. Maybe they have an insight from the outside that you don’t have or simply cannot see. Ask questions. Get feedback.

When you get feedback, you don’t have to always use it. However, when you do use it, be sure to thank the customer for his or her insight. Maybe even provide them a gift as part of your thank you. It will make them feel good to know that you actually paid attention to what they had to say.

Do know however that a lot of feedback that you receive will be very contextual. In other words, it will be something that that one particular customer wants. You have to determine though if enough other customers want that same thing before going out and making whatever change it is. If that customer is the only one, then your changes will be done to make only one person happy. That is not an efficient use of resources.

In sum, ask questions. Many great marketing ideas have come from customers. Who knows, you might find some for your business.