One of the most common pieces of business advice you see is that you need to have a unique product. Your business has to have that unique product in order to crack the industry.
Sure, if you want to change the world you need something unique, but if you’re just an Average Joe you don’t need to have anything truly unique.
How many clothing stores do you see all with similar designs? Is your accountant that different from the hundreds of other accountants in town? How many online games are truly different?
When you answer these questions you’ll see that the majority of businesses on the planet aren’t offering anything new or ground-breaking. Yet they make money, they survive. I don’t offer anything unique as a freelancer. There are thousands of writers like me who can do the job, yet I still have clients.
How do I, and others, do this?
It’s all in the way you present it.
Don’t Compete on Price
When two companies are competing, the amateur is the one who tries to compete on price. The race to the bottom erodes standards and erodes profits.
It’s fine to undercut your competitor if they’re genuinely overpricing their offering to create a ridiculous mark-up, but anything other than that is like death by a thousand cuts.
Sooner or later the winner will be the entrepreneur with the most money who can outlast you. Then it ruins it for them too because your target market becomes conditioned to paying a certain price.
You can never raise your prices significantly again without driving people away.
That’s why I would never lower my prices because a client doesn’t want to pay. There are no sweetheart deals with me because I could never expect that client to pay more for a future project.
He already knows he’s getting a low price and he could replace me anytime.
A total of 55% of millennials in one study said they’d pay more for a higher quality product. We can see that’s true because otherwise legacy airlines would have already been destroyed by their budget equivalents.
Customer Service is the New Big Thing
Believe it or not, by 2020 customer service will become the single most important factor for American consumers when deciding whether or not to make a purchase. Yes, that includes being more important than the actual product on offer.
Companies are realising that with this much competition and globalisation they can’t compete on product alone.
Even if you have this really great product someone from China or Indonesia or India will steal it sooner or later. And you can’t enforce copyright because they don’t give a shit over there.
So you have to compete on customer service.
Offering superior service and actually treating the consumer like they matter will win more business, even if others are offering an extremely similar product elsewhere.
Brands Matter More Than Ever
Consumers care about your story. They care about what you stand for. There’s a reason why people will take the time and effort to go to a farmer’s market when they could pick up something extremely similar for less at their local supermarket.
Companies are increasingly using social media to be more transparent. You’ll see lots of behind the scenes content.
And that’s because customers demand to see more. They want to know more about the people they’re giving their money to.
People want to give money to those they support. It’s why companies are spending so much time promoting how environmentally friendly they are.
Did all these companies suddenly start caring about the planet? Unlikely, but for branding purposes it’s a winner.
You Can Still Offer a Unique Selling Point
Think about the talents you have and the things you can do better than anyone else. If I’m writing some crappy article on car insurance for a client, I’m repeating facts for a vanilla ass website.
It doesn’t take any great degree of skill to parrot out facts.
But what I can do is write faster than anyone else. There are few people who can keep up with my pace on most projects. I credit a childhood spent on the Internet for giving me that typing speed (and I only use three fingers max).
Speed is my unique selling point for new clients. It’s how I stand out from the crowd.
What do you offer to stand out from other companies?
Watch Your Tone
Tone is a big thing as well.
Let’s take the cannabis industry in California as an example. There are currently 631 legal stores across the state, and an expected tripling of this number as legislation and restrictions change.
They’re not that much different from each other. Sure, they may have some variations, but someone going to buy weed just wants to get high and relax. How can the same type of store differentiate itself when there’s so much upcoming competition?
It’s all about the tone.
Attention is currency. You get their attention by speaking to who these customers are.
That customer isn’t the bored housewife or the overstretched accountant. It’s people who’re more casual people. They likely don’t work for a huge corporation and wear a suit all day, so don’t talk to them like that.
You adopt a casual tone that speaks directly to them as if they were a friend on the street. In this industry that’s the tone that’s likely going to work.
Customers see through your disingenuous business bullshit. Your target market isn’t stupid.
The salesy tones that worked before aren’t going to work anymore. The game has changed. You need to examine how you’re speaking to someone.
Who are these people?
The Product is Only Part of It
Your product is not the be-all and end-all of your business. Don’t be the entrepreneur who waits for years trying to think of the perfect product or the opportunity will pass you by.
Jump right in now. We learn by doing not by procrastinating.
How do you differentiate a non-unique product from the competition?
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