In the US alone, there are almost 30 million small businesses in operation – and this number is increasing practically every day, particularly with the likes of Etsy and social media platforms making it so easy to set up a small business or side-hustle. As such, we are almost drowning in different brands that are all trying to impact and be seen as relevant in an already bustling, overcrowded market.
Trying to stand out in such an environment as a small business – whether an up-and-coming one or already firmly established – is more than a little difficult, it would seem, particularly when all the secret methods for getting noticed are being proliferated all over the internet and reducing the impact you have. And this is true, even if only a small proportion of those small businesses are competitors within your sector.
So, what can you do to ensure that your business separates itself successfully from the clamoring masses and stands out from the crowd? Well, you can focus on establishing yourself in the following ways:
Customization is Personalization
One of the key things that consumers look for in a brand is personalization, in terms of logos, brand messages, packaging, and customer interactions. They want to feel as though a brand is unique and appeals to a certain aspect of their life or personality in a way that doesn’t simply blend in with the background, which is why this element is so important to your business model.
In terms of logos, you have a couple of choices in front of you: you can choose to converse with a professional who specializes in producing logos for unique businesses and who will provide you with a selection of logos to choose from, although this can be fairly costly. Alternatively, a cheaper option would be to design a logo via an app on your phone (Logo Maker or Canva are two good examples) and either use this exact logo or ask a professional to reproduce it (which will lower the amount you owe them for the logo creation).
Another way to personalize your brand is to develop custom products designed to a customer’s personal and individual specifications. Companies such as Apviz have everything you need to enable this aspect of our brand. Their website contains this guide on selling custom products and outlining its benefits, including efficiency, reduced costs, and increased security.
Be Original, Be Sincere
Many brands often discount the sheer power of originality and sincerity on the attitudes and preferences of consumers – and this is quite often their downfall. Relying on cliché slogans, empty words that sound great but don’t mean anything, and generic sales talk is a sure-fire way of turning consumers off your brand; most can spot a fake a million miles away. Being overly generic means that your brand will fail to reach out to certain individuals and demographics and will instead bypass them all.
This extends to your interactions on social media and in adverts. If you simply reproduce the same response for every customer’s comment, regardless of the content, they will quickly discount you as another corporate stooge paying lip service to the notion of sincerity in order to rake in the money. Instead, you need to consider what makes your brand special and different, and find a way to inject your own personality into the brand.
Basically, at all times, you need to ask yourself the question, “How would I want to be spoken to and treated in this situation?” and then you need to implement this.
Build a Unique Brand ‘Voice’
Each brand should have its own unique ‘voice’ that sets it apart from its competitors. And this voice is dependent on who you are targeting, what product or service you are offering, and the kind of image you wish to portray to existing and potential customers.
The best, most successful brands have an awareness and understanding of their target audience, molding their messaging and advertising in a way that ensures it’s only relevant to their particular niche. This helps build a connection with the audience, making them feel both validated and understood – something that bigger brands have lost sight of in recent years.
If, for example, your target audience is university students, then discussing a common student issue – such as attending lectures the day after a mad night out – will not only help you be seen as relevant to them, but it will also help you to build a connection. This type of connection needs to be nurtured via regular interactions, with adjustments being shrewdly made to continuously improve on this aspect.
Embrace Influencers and Social Media
While you may balk at the repeated discussion of influencers and social media in marketing and advertising, the impressive impact of both cannot be discounted and ignored.
To succeed in such an overcrowded market, where every other brand utilizes each platform available to extend their reach, you have no choice but to fully embrace both elements within your marketing and advertising. Not only will it help to spread the word about your brand, but it will also help you to build that all-important connection with your target audience by demonstrating accessibility and relevance.
Influencers in particular, have the ability to skyrocket the volume of your audience and really put your business on the map, as long as you pick and choose your collaborators with care and plenty of research beforehand.
Customers always remember a particularly exemplary experience with a brand. They will happily go on to tell everyone they know about how wonderful the service they experienced was, which should in itself be enough of an incentive to ensure that your customer service is top-notch and focused entirely on the customer’s experience.
Related to this comes the notion of honesty: if you make a mistake, an order is delayed, or you receive some negative feedback, the best way to resolve the situation is to take full ownership, interact with the customer on a deeper level, and offer them some form of discount or monetary apology in a speedy and friendly manner. They need to feel as though their views are being heard and understood, that their concerns are being taken on board, and that immediate action will be taken to rectify any issues.
If you go above and beyond for each and every customer you have, they are sure to spread the word and sing your praises, and, in turn, your share of the market will continue to grow.
Be Weird and Wonderful
Boldness is highly prized by consumers these days, whether it means creating weird and wonderful adverts or marketing campaigns that are a bit risky, or asserting your brand beliefs and social stances without compromise, apology, or justification. While this can potentially alienate a marginal sector of your audience, it will garner new customers and help you win the admiration of your existing customers.
A fantastic example of this is the Gillette campaign that looked into toxic masculinity and exemplified how nuance and the breaking down of society’s gendered expectations are essential. Millions of social media users took to the internet to vilify the brand and call them out, but this was nothing compared to the number of responses they received that was positive! Being bold, daring, weird, and wonderful will earn you a huge amount of respect, and that can’t hurt, right?
The market is currently saturated, and it looks as though this trend will continue as more and more people decide to step out on their own and create their own brand or business. So, if you want to stay relevant and stand out from the crowd, following the outlined steps above will help you achieve both.