How to Stand Out from the Competition (Lesson 3)
Series: 4 Marketing Lessons from a Trip to Italy (Part 3 of 4)
How the Real World can Teach You About Marketing
So far in my 4 Marketing Lessons from A Trip to Italy series, we’ve discussed the importance of being both where your customers are and creating barriers to entry. Today I’ll discuss the importance of differentiating yourself from your competition and how you can leverage that in your marketing.
Btw, if you’ve missed my two previous posts or want a look at what’s coming next, here’s a list.
- Lesson 1: Be Where Your Customers Are (Below)
- Lesson 2: Using Marketing to Create Barriers to Entry
- Lesson 3: This One
- Lesson 4: Respect Your Customers
Lesson 3: How to Stand Out from the Competition
If you do a lot of traveling, especially to popular tourist destinations, you may have noticed that there are often many stores that sell essentially the same merchandise to the same customer base. Certainly, there’s nothing wrong with that. If you’re the merchant, you’ve got to make a living selling something, but it wouldn’t hurt to have a competitive advantage.
How Do You Stand Out?
During my trip to Venice, I noticed that flamboyant masks (a tradition from the historic Carnival of Venice) are a very popular tourist item. Kiosk after kiosk and storefront after storefront were all carrying pretty much the exact same merchandise. When I looked at cart “A” verses cart “B,” I might as well have flipped a coin.
Clearly, many of these vendors make their living from the sheer number of tourists. The logic is simple; when the line gets too long at one kiosk, the impatient crowd of tourists will spill over and buy from the next kiosk (some may even be owned by the same company). As long as there are thousands of tourists every day, it probably doesn’t make much of a difference.
But most business owners aren’t in this situation. Yes, your competitor probably sells a very similar, if not identical, widget as you do, so why should the customer buy from you? If your products are the same, you have to something to stand out.
Two Example of Standing Out
It’s worth mentioning that while almost every mask kiosk and store we passed in Venice were essentially interchangeable; there was one that stood out (and the picture was the inspiration for this series). The store in the picture below had the usual assortment of masks. However, the window’s centerpiece was a pair of beautiful costumes. But take a closer look at the mannequins. They’re telling a great story. He clearly wants her and she’s been stopped in her tracks by his gaze (or something like that). Whatever else this store offered was irrelevant. That store front stopped me in my tracks.
Of course, there are other ways to stand out. One night, while wandering the Venetian alleys looking for a good place to have dinner, my wife and I were approached by doormen from every restaurant we passed. The solicitations quickly became annoying and we decided to leave the area. However, one particular doorman got out attention. How? He made us laugh.
Be creative. When faced with sameness, find ways to stand out. It (almost) doesn’t matter what your differentiating factor is, although it should be directly connected to your product/service. In the case of the restaurants, while the menu was important, being a funny character got our attention and a great personality helped to close the deal. But there’s a difference in being a character and having character and your business requires the later to help you form trusting relationships with your customers.
Social media helps you stand out because they help you get access to and learn about people. Thus they are relationship-building tools, so use them to get to know people. People like doing business with people they know because there’s an inherent trust in relationships. The better someone knows you, the more likely they’ll continue to buy your products and services. Do this by finding something you have in common. Use that as the launch point to build a personal relationship, but be genuine. If you’re faking it, they’ll figure it out and that could kill the relationship, and damage your business.
What do you think? Please leave a comment and let us know.
Need help standing out from the crowd and building relationships with your customers? Please don’t hesitate to contact me. I can help.
Don’t miss tomorrow’s lesson or the rest of the posts from this series: