I’m gonna start off this article by sounding a little hard-nosed…
In business, if you don’t bring something different to the table, you have no place being there.
Harsh, but true.
You need a way to stand out from your competition. Something that will attract people to you over anyone else. If you don’t know what that something is, then you’re in trouble!
Some businesses are incredibly lucky little buggers by having a patented product or feature. Or sole access to a market.
That’s extremely rare however. For the rest of us, what you’re offering will be available from multiple businesses, multiple freelancers. You’ll be offering a commoditised product or service that will essentially be the same across the board.
So you need to find a way of differentiating yourself by other means. And your brand is a great place to start!
I’m gonna take you through what a USP actually is and how you can find your own for your business.
Massively important stuff. Let’s do it!
Think about it this way. If your competition won’t say the opposite of you, then it’s not a USP. For example:
“I make great websites” vs “I make shit websites”
“I do everything with a smile” vs “I do everything looking like I want to slap you”
“I give great customer service” vs “I give awful customer service”
Beginning to see the pattern?
Granted, if every other web designer out there in your niche makes shit websites, and yours are great, then you have a differentiator, but not one you can bet your house on.
It’s not something that’s hard to do. It’s just a question of when someone else will come in and do it too. Then what do you have?
You need to think long and hard about what it is you can offer that no-one else can or no-one else will.
Being unique in itself doesn’t guarantee success. Ask the guy selling glass dartboards.
Having something that no-one else does isn’t any good if your audience don’t find it of value.
You therefore need to have something that your competitors can’t or aren’t willing to have and that your audience actually wants.
Having one without the other will either leave you standing generic or pointless.
So let’s have a look into the places where your difference can really come from. The parts of you and your brand that can set you apart.
Start with your story. The single, most basic unique thing you have that no-one else can copy!
Tell people why you got started and how. Tell them the journey you’ve been on to get where you are today.
Tell them why your story matters to them. If you can make your story relatable to them, so that they can see their own lives, pains, goals, journeys in you, then they are much more likely to trust and follow you.
What do you stand for and take pride in? What are your core beliefs and business morals?
We relate to and empathise with people that share similar values to our own. Think about your friend circles. I bet you all have common outlooks on life.
Your values are very powerful. They say a lot about you, your dependability and your trustworthiness.
Combine these with your story and you’re really starting to form something that’s solely yours.
A hugely important part of what makes you unique.
The WAY you do business. The way you look, feel, act and talk to people.
We fall in love with addictive personalities. Make sure that your brand’s personality is true to who you are, but also relatable to your audience.
You’ll have your own take on how you put things, your opinions, the amount of energy and passion you have. The amount and style of humour you might inject in your content.
People form relationships and bonds with people, not companies. So you need to make sure that your business has its own personality, its own style, its own tone of voice.
As freelancers and startup entrepreneurs, we are usually the face of our own brands. So you’ll need to get comfortable being in the spotlight and being the ambassador of your business.
If you’re not willing to be the face of your brand, then you’ll need to find someone else that can. Faceless and nameless just don’t cut it anymore.
Your personality should be divisive!
You’re never gonna be everyone’s cup of tea. The sooner you accept that, the sooner you can focus all of your attention on those that matter. Those that love what you’re about.
Don’t worry about those that don’t get on with you. As long as you’re being true to yourself and your intended audience, that’s all that matters.
Where are you going? What’s your ideal look like?
You’ve gone into business for a reason, how are you ultimately trying to make the world a better place?
And I don’t mean a focus on global warming or saving the Amazon Rainforest (although if you are for this, then amazing!)
It doesn’t need to be that grand. But how are you trying to make a change in your audience’s lives?
When people know where you’re heading, they’re more likely to join you on the journey.
Your destination is another way to differentiate yourself from those around you.
You can instantly set yourself apart massively by what you promise your audience. HOW you deliver your products and services.
New, helpful content every day of the week.
Inspiration from across your niche delivered to their inboxes weekly.
The options are endless. You just need to pick something that your audience can’t get anywhere else.
A singular promise on its own is OK, but can easily be copied by someone if they really wanted to. But once you combine multiple promises that are unique to your business, your competitors will have a much harder time following.
Don’t follow those of your competitors.
Look at what they do and do it better. Look at what they don’t do and do it.
The fastest way to differentiate yourself and become no.1 at something is to create the category. Really think about an area of the market that isn’t being served.
Narrow down! That’s an incredibly quick way to creating your own category. Get real specific over who you offer your services to and tailor everything to them.
And remember, sometimes just doing something will set you apart. Going the extra mile and starting something, putting in the effort will already put you above those sitting on the sidelines still thinking about it.
Maybe not glass sporting goods…
Like I said before, charging more isn’t a privilege of the mega corporations. Anyone can do it following these 5 principles.
How do you set yourself apart in your niche? Have any of the above tips sparked off the beginnings of great ideas? Join us in our Facebook group and let’s have a good ol’ chat about it!