Maintain Your Competitive Edge:

How To Stand Out In a Crowded Marketplace

In my consulting with small businesses and entrepreneurs, there are common themes suggesting shared challenges between even divergent business types. One theme is, “Get me more customers!” Of course. Customers are the lifeblood of ANY business whether you’re a retail establishment, a service provider, or an online business.

Here are three ways you can stand out in a crowded marketplace and attract and retain more customers.

1. Find Your Dominant Selling Idea

Most marketing is full of empty platitudes that don’t evoke an emotional response. Another common form of institutional advertising is what I call “the laundry list”; ads featuring bulleted offerings that pretty much any business in your space can claim. What you really need in today’s competitive marketplace is a true competitive advantage.

Here’s a test you can try with your latest marketing piece: If you can cross out your name and write in the name of a competitor—and the ad still works—it’s probably not returning on your marketing investment.

Try this: See if you can quickly complete this simple sentence: “My business is the only _____________________ that ______________________.” If you can authentically fill in that second blank with a unique attribute, you’re on the right track to having a dominant selling idea.

2. Sell Results, Not Products or Services

It’s been said that people don’t buy drill bits and saw blades; they buy holes and cuts. In other words, people don’t buy products and services; they buy results.

Your marketing should appeal to their emotional and social reasons for wanting what you sell. The makeup industry does this well. Cosmetics companies don’t sell lipstick and eye shadow. They sell hope, self-confidence, and youthfulness.

I call this the benefit of the benefit. Remember the old advertising saw, “Sell the sizzle, not the steak”? To really stand out and be memorable, you need to be selling the sizzle of the sizzle.

3. Cash Flow is King

I’ve worked with many businesses that seemed to have it all together: a great idea, a compelling product offering that fills a true marketplace need, and a solid brand strategy.

But there’s one thing they didn’t have: cash. Not just cash flow to keep the lights on and the payroll on time, but the cash to invest in their own business; to leverage their position, their difference, and their relevance through marketing programs that would connect them with their target audience and GROW their customer base. It’s a common tale; undercapitalization derailing an otherwise awesome business.

Is that you? If so, consider a service like Fundera, a provider that gives you the security of working capital whenever you need it. Their sole mission is to get small business owners like you the capital for anything you need to grow your business, like rebranding programs, marketing initiatives, and other proactive ways to grow your customer base and get the cash flowing again.

And, if your businesses is otherwise firing on all cylinders, this could be your ticket to more customers.

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