This is a guest post written by Louisa Dean, a freelance writer from Dorset, UK. She loves the freedom that comes with being her own boss, as well as the much coveted work/life balance.
Identifying what makes you stand out from the competition like a daunting prospect, but in the climate of today’s economy, having an edge over the competition in the workplace or if you’re starting your own venture is more important than ever.
Discovering what it is that sets you apart from others can take extensive research and possibly even a fair deal of soul-searching, and naturally will vary hugely from sector to sector. However, one thing that almost all successful people have in common is that they innovate and effectively communicate the value of their skills to their target market.
In order to do this, let’s start from the start: you need to understand who your target audience are. Is your target demographic hip, twentysomethings who play out their lives via social media? Is there gender bias in your target market? Is your passion in line with those who want to put the world to right or are you only in it for quality of life?
Once you have figured out where your value lies and with which demographic, the next step is to get to know their habits, where they are based geographically, how they are most likely to see your product or service, and which types of advertising they respond well to. This information will inform your targeted advertising campaigns as your business will be able to communicate the value of the product or service you are offering in a language that the target demographic find appealing.
Identifying and communicating to your target market is a good start, but it is also critical to develop the relationship into a dedicated following. Genuine interactions with colleagues, stakeholders and other potential clients on social media has as much advertising clout as hiring a billboard for a week, with the bonus of humanizing your position and giving customers a person to relate to, rather than someone who tows the line or could easily be replaced.
What works well for the individual also works for a corporate giant, so it’s well-worth looking at success stories from all around to take inspiration for your personal growth.
This has worked well for industry giants who have responded to public complaints with a sense of humor. Twitter appears to be the most effective way for customers to communicate directly and immediately with a business, so make sure your company is using that social media platform. Brand experience is key here: people who can identify with a business find it much easier to spend money with them.
Another great way to establish your edge is to see what your competitors are doing already and learn from the strengths and weaknesses of their approach. Analyze their last few campaigns and cross reference your findings with data from Companies House. Look them up on Facebook to check out the customer reviews and find out what it is that they are doing right or wrong.
If you are still struggling to find your edge, think of the unsinkable Alvin ‘Titanic Thompson’ Thomas. He didn’t wait to find a competitive edge, he created one to give himself the advantage. Thomas proved that thinking outside of the box could get you a lot further than going down tried and tested routes.
Are there approaches you haven’t considered yet? Think back to when Christmas was all about Coca-Cola and its Santa truck. Since they first made their association with the holiday in 1931, it didn’t seem like anyone would be able to knock Coca-Cola off the Christmas spot. Then along came John Lewis. They proceeded to make an even bigger impact on the holidays, and now the Coca-Cola truck appears as a supporting act. Every year, the dedicated John Lewis following await the release of the Christmas advertisement as if it was the latest blockbuster. And what’s more, they don’t even place their products in the advertisements.
This goes to show that you should never be intimidated by a company who already appears to be doing what you want to do. If you know your competition and your target markets, establish a dedicated following and create a great brand experience for them. Once you do that, you will have given your business the edge over competitors.