The question most business people ask is:
How do I stand out from the crowd?It is very much a positioning question. The reason why it’s a positioning question is because
positioning for success is about standing alone in a quadrant that (ideally) no other person occupies except you. And typically, the other three quadrants are crowded.
How do you do that?
Positioning is an advanced concept and it is often misunderstood as USP (unique selling point) which is rather archaic because it was first coined and widely used back in the 60s and 70s (way before I was born). We are not talking about USP because by and large what we do and/or sell these days is rarely unique.
There are two main things to consider when you’re trying to stand out in a crowded market:
- What’s different about you (your service) versus what’s already out there (your competitors)?
- What do your customers care about and really want from your service/product?
Let’s take a look at my own (earlier) business endeavours to illustrate how I went about positioning myself to stand out from the crowd.
When I was doing a competitive analysis in the area of Branding Photographers, I found out a few things:
- Their packages are cheap
- They limit the number of photos based on the package the client chooses
- A lot of them are using the phrase ‘Visual Storytelling’
I couldn’t understand where they were coming from. None of their stuff made sense to me.
Let me start with ‘cheap’. Pricing is something I can talk about until cows come home so I would need way more time and space but, suffice to say, being ‘cheap’, being in a race to the bottom and cutting corners, doesn’t serve anyone, so for me it was a simple case of going the other way around. My packages are NOT cheap.
I also couldn’t understand why there should be a limit to how many digital photos a client should get. It’s not like it costs more to export photos from the shoot – It’s NOT a fine art portrait for which I may have to spend a lot of time in Photoshop or putting printed photographs into frames. So my clients get all the photos from their shoot as long as the photos are deemed ‘good’ (aka not duds).
Finally, let me ask you something. Have you ever wondered how well you should tell your story visually for your business? My guess is ‘hell no’ or at least a reasonably emphatic ‘Not really’. I’ve spoken to enough clients to know that ‘visual storytelling’ isn’t in their list of priorities – I haven’t heard a single person talk about it. Well, at least not from my clients. Did they care about it or really want it? No. That means, Visual Storytelling is just industry jargon. So what did I end up saying instead? I went for “growing your business”.
How did I stand out (position myself) then? By being:
High end, generous with photos, and focusing on growing your business.
How would you like to have a go at this very exercise? Research and write down:
1. What’s different about you (your service) versus what’s already out there (your competitors)?
2. What do your customers care about and really want from your service/product?
Let me know what you find out.
P.S. There is a theme here, if you haven’t noticed, as you look around to see what others are doing in your industry. You’ll notice things that bug you (in my story, it was ‘I don’t understand why’). Those areas will be a good place to start to see how different you could be. Another point is to know what your audience wants vs. what you think they need. They are most often two different things. The current industry jargon might be what you think your customer needs but that’s not often what keeps them up at night. In other words, you can’t position yourself using industry jargons.