The competitive nature of running your own business means that you probably often compare yourself to others in your industry. While industry relevance will always be necessary, individuality and a unique value proposition carry more weight with customers. Research has shown that besides great service and quality products, customers gravitate towards businesses that make them feel appreciated or go the extra mile.
Remember that your business journey is a very personal one, to be taken at your own pace. Focus on your own distinctive characteristics, and seize opportunities where you can. The following 8 ideas could set you apart from the competition, and help you to market your individuality to become a most loved local business.
- Be very, very specific: You can’t be all things to all people. Don’t try and offer every type of product or service as you might be perceived as a bit ‘same-same’ or ‘me-too’ by customers. Instead, own a specific market niche. Ask yourself: is my business the ONLY one that is/offers XYZ…? As an example, instead of having yet another beauty salon, why not visit people at the office or give massages on the beach?
- Make an offer they can’t refuse: Who doesn’t love getting something for free? Harness the power of word of mouth by rewarding customers for recommending a friend, or offering a longer-than-usual warranty on a product or service.
- Do something surprising: Sometimes, even the smallest gesture can mean the world to someone else. Social media is a great way to surprise customers, so the next time someone compliments your business, why not have a product sample or voucher delivered to their office?
- Give back to the community or own a unique cause: Few efforts are as endearing as someone doing their bit for their community. Just think of that schoolboy who saved over 30 tortoises from the recent Betty’s Bay fire in the Western Cape. Alternatively, you can donate a small portion of every sale you make to a specific cause. For example, for each pair sold, a South African sock company donates a pair of socks to a child in need. In another example, a hairdresser offered free haircuts in return for pet food donations towards an animal shelter.
- Don’t be afraid to be quirky: If you have a unique feature, celebrate it and it will become a talking point among customers - even if it’s a little bit off the wall (like a restaurant’s signature lemon tart with crème fraiche and liquid nitrogen raspberries).
- Solve a problem: Think about the pain points of your business or industry. One dentist realised that customers find it stressful listening to drilling noises in the waiting room, so created a tranquil spa-like atmosphere with free massages. They also offered noise-cancelling headphones during procedures.
- Share your knowledge: Show customers that you are an expert in your field. Don’t be shy to share that knowledge on your blog, by speaking on the radio or writing help guides. Customers love businesses who are genuinely helpful.
- Create a memorable culture: There is a lot to be said for the atmosphere you create in your store or office. Own a certain style of music, greet people warmly and make your service offering as tangible as possible. It’s the business who engages all five senses - plus the feel-good factor - that builds a fan base for life.
What others love is worth protecting
Celebrating your individuality also means protecting what others love about you. You’ve come a long way in building the business you own today. With Santam’s small business insurance solutions, we can help ensure that your fans never have to do without it. Speak to your broker to find out more about essential insurance cover for your unique business needs.Santam is passionate about supporting and developing entrepreneurs, so read more advice articles geared to business owners on our blog.