How To Make Your Niche Small Business Stand Out
Starting a small business can be incredibly intimidating but with the right tools and mindset you can be successful. It may seem impossible to compete with large companies, however, there are many advantages for small businesses.
These advantages include higher efficiency, easier communication to your target market and better flexibility. On the other hand, there are disadvantages including lack of brand awareness, loyalty, and budgets. As long as a small business knows how to effectively utilize its advantages, the brand awareness, loyalty and budget will build throughout its journey.
Since budgets are often the biggest barrier for new small businesses, this article will give useful advice on how they can stay resilient in the market regardless of their financial situation. It is unrealistic to expect your new small business to jump into the market and be at the same level as businesses that have already been established. It takes time and money to build your business so keep reading to learn how a small business can quickly stand out amongst its competitors
Stay in your own lane
It is human nature to compare what we are doing or where we are at with others. It can be easy to want to replicate your competitor’s strategy, especially if you see them doing well.
However, it is important to focus on your business because what works for your competitors most likely will not work the same for you. Each business builds their reputation throughout their journey and being the small business that gets the reputation as a follower is not going to be beneficial.
Creativity is essential when it comes to remaining competitive in the market without stepping on the toes of others. Competitors should have influence on why you are doing the things you do, but not how you do them. So how does staying in your own lane make your small business stand out? When two companies are essentially the same, consumers are likely to choose one – usually the more established one with the better reputation.
Staying in your own lane allows consumers to see your brand individually for what it is and what it brings to the table and it lowers the chances of being outshined by competitors.
After you stay in your own lane, how do you stand out enough to become profitable? Start small and dive deep into a niche market. These markets are small business gold because established businesses are often focusing on the more obvious broad market leaving consumers’ specific needs in the niche markets unmet.
To some it may seem limiting to target only one or two unique groups, but what will actually limit your business is not having a clear focus. A niche market will allow you to truly know your audience instead of targeting multiple groups and spreading your business too thin from the beginning.
Niche markets can also be a good way to connect with consumers to get feedback and support while building loyalty and awareness. The beautiful thing about starting small is there is always room to expand because there is no logical reason a new small business should have the same breadth as their more established competitors.
As a small business you automatically have the upper hand when it comes to customer experience. A lot of factors go into the idea of customer experience because it is the entire relationship a customer has with a brand. This is an advantage because small businesses have the ability to directly build their relationship with their customers unlike large bureaucratic companies.
Consumers value a great experience and it is an easy way for small businesses to stand out, gain loyal customers and generate word of mouth marketing. One of the most obvious ways to enhance your customer’s experience is through exceptional customer service.
Companies that are known for their awesome customer service are typically also very successful, coincidence? Consumers want to buy from responsive companies because if something goes wrong, they have a question or a complaint a responsive company is more likely to give them the answers they are looking for. Besides customer service, here are some of the best ways to provide an excellent customer experience.
Make it easy
Whether your small business is online only, a storefront, or both, there needs to be as few steps involved in the purchase process as possible. There is a good chance one of your competitors could be Amazon with their 1-click checkout.
My advice for any small businesses is: don’t make it harder than it has to be. If a 10 year old would have trouble navigating around your store or website, make it easier. If there are more than two steps involved in the checkout process, make it easier. If there is no obvious way to get in contact with your store, make it easier. Simplicity is key and customers will appreciate it.
If a customer feels appreciated by your small business they are more likely to shop with you than a competitor, and loyal customers oftentimes share their satisfaction with those in their network. Simple gestures like handwritten ‘thank you’ notes in packages or timely responses to emails can make huge impacts for small businesses.
When you treat your customers well and on a personal level, it will build the trust between them and your business. Not only will the authenticity of your business build long term relationships but it will also help build your reputation.
The best way to improve your small business and stand out further is by asking for feedback from your customers. Send an email to those who have purchased from you and ask them about their experience and then capitalize on their input.
This is an amazing way to directly reach those in your target market and make sure their needs are being met. Lucky for you, small businesses often have a quicker reaction time than that of a big, bureaucratic organization. If there is consistent feedback to change something, small businesses can leverage their quicker adaptability to meet their customers’ needs more effectively.
All aspects of your small business need creativity to compete and stand out against other businesses. It is not always about being the first to create a brand new product as many creative companies usually put a fresh twist on something that is already established.
For example, Apple was not the first company to produce a computer yet it has turned into one of the most innovative companies to ever exist. Being able to take a different approach towards something already in the market will give your business the fresh angle and perceived value it needs to become attractive to consumers. There are also many areas where a company can be creative that have nothing to do with the product itself.
Emphasize your uniqueness
What are you doing or what can you do that your competitors can’t? Truth be told, differentiating your brand is one of the best ways to remain competitive and if you can’t find differences, that is where you need to start. Once you have differentiated your brand, inform your target market on how your points of difference can improve their life in a way competitors aren’t.
This can be done through stories, testimonials or by hitting their pain points. Likewise, if your company is eco-friendly, make it known because that could easily be the reason someone shops with your small business over your competitors. Consumers value companies whose values align with theirs and emphasizing your differences can make a huge impact in gaining market share. How can you show your business in a different light that makes it irresistible to your target market?
Add value where you can
Besides writing thank you notes to show your customers you care about them, there are several ways to add value to your customers. No matter the industry you are in, its likely consumers will choose your company over others if they feel they are getting more from their purchase.
Some ways companies have been successful with this approach is through offering things like free stickers, appealing packaging, loyalty programs, special deals, etc. At grocery stores and some other retail locations reusable bags are a big trend right now and are valuable to both consumers and businesses.
Not only can your customers use this bag for groceries or their lunch, but your business will get free marketing when they use it. A lot factors into the purchase process for consumers but without a doubt they will notice and appreciate the small details that other businesses forget to include.
Utilize marketing tools
A marketing budget for small businesses will probably not be as large as their bigger competitors but there are many ways to effectively reach your target market without breaking the bank. Getting established on social media is more important now than ever and it can be as simple as connecting with social media influencers to endorse your company.
Many influencers will promote your company to their followers in exchange for a free product or service. There are also many free versions of apps available that can keep track of your social media engagement and posting schedule to ensure your presence is strong. Social media is a powerful tool and should not be an afterthought for your business. Create a concrete plan early on with creative content to effectively stand out to your target market.
About the author
Kim Phillipi is President and owner of Building Science Academy, LLC. This startup formed in 2009 and operates Greenfit Homes, a construction business, and JobFLEX, an app development company.