How do small businesses survive these days in a crowded market where being discovered online is more than half the battle? They need to know what makes them special and understand how they can directly fulfill the needs of their customers.
The Vitality of Small Businesses
Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy, employing millions and creating innovations that their size allows them to explore. According to the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council, in 2019 firms with fewer than twenty employees made up 89.0% of businesses in the U.S. and those with under one hundred accounted for 98.1%.
Rising Above the Competition
Just as there are many small businesses, there is a lot of competition and the best place to be discovered is the internet. However, the web is a crowded place, and chances are your product is not the only one out there. The key is differentiating what you do and sell from everyone else.
What Makes Your Business Special?
To differentiate yourself, you need to consider what makes your business special. What stands out about the owners, the employees, the products, and the services? Being a bunch of friendly faces is not enough. Neither is using words like “dynamic, innovative, or excellent” without an endorsement to add credibility to the praise. Here is an example of a successful differentiator:
Warby Parker is an eyeglasses company that started as a digitally native brand, which means they only sold online. At the time there were dozens of different ways to purchase eyeglasses at stores like Pearle Vision, through your doctor’s office, and even at Costco and Walmart. So how could the founders think that they could compete in a marketplace that was full of options?
They offered an alternative to customers who needed glasses by providing a simple process, a la carte pricing, and a chance to test out five different pairs of frames. They saved people time and money, and offered the allure of an alternative name brand. An article from CNBC explains exactly how they succeeded.
Building Brand Trust
Once you know what makes your business special, you can incorporate the message into your overall brand. Offering a product is not who you are, it is what you do. In today’s world of direct, high speed, digital connection, people need to feel like they know their brands. They need to trust their brands and to gain trust, you need to identify your customers and address their needs directly.
For example, I spoke at a women’s networking event about content marketing and social media. One of the attendees was a photographer who wanted to grow her wedding photo business.
Problem: She did not understand why she wasn’t getting a lot of traction from her website which had beautiful photos that showed what she could do. The photographer did not know what made her services special and different from others. She also did not understand how her customers went about selecting a photographer.
- She could share more information about her story and why she is passionate about working with couples and sharing their special moments.
- She could have blogs or articles on her website about how to choose the right wedding photographer.
- She could offer sample albums with endorsements from her clients.
Understanding what makes you special and matching that directly with the needs of your potential customers will build your business. Everyone has something to offer that is unique to them. The challenge is figuring out what that is and who needs it. Then you need the courage and the know-how to go out there and communicate it to the right people in the right place, at the right time.