Optimize My Brand

Strategy, tactics, ideas and tips from Creative Company.

6 tips to rise above the competition

You’ve heard it before—to rise above the competition you must be recognized as unique. When you differentiate your offering from the other choices, you’ll stand out.

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1. Look for the “wow!”

Many organizations offer essentially the same products or services. Banks and credit unions. Financial planners. Colleges. Grocery stores. Human resource services. Marketing. Whatever your category or industry, someone else provides basically what you do.

When you’re marketing, it’s easy to talk about the list of “stuff” you offer … the same list as your competitors. Yet your clients and customers have recognized something unique, your “wow!” Something you do or offer has them return, recommend or refer your organization.

Ask your customers—what do they like most, what do they appreciate about your organization? Where do they say “wow! I didn’t know … or … wow, you can do that?” Why do they refer or recommend? Often it’s something personal and meaningful. Once you understand the “wow!” you can build on it to differentiate your organization from the other choices.

2. Build on the “wow!”

With solid positioning Now create messaging and design to focus on that idea, that key point. Is it personality? Choice? People? Results? Attitude? When your target audiences quickly understand how you will provide what they’re looking for, solve their problem or deliver on expectations, they’ll choose you over the competition. Download our free positioning worksheet to get started on defining your position.

3. Who loves you?

Target a niche Is there a particular category you can identify as a valuable target audience? Perhaps an industry, or an age group, or an affinity? Choose a group that has been profitable, provided sales volume, or has been a strong referral base. By focusing on a particular niche, you can tailor your message and your marketing. Emphasize the expertise, benefits or unique products you offer that audience group. When you narrow your target, you’ll have more impact at a lower cost.

4. Understand your audiences first.

What are their expectations? What do they know or need to know about what you offer? Who else are they considering, reviewing, researching? How are they likely to connect with you? When you can step into their shoes, see your organization through their eyes, and reach them on their terms, you’ll be way ahead. Because marketing isn’t really about you, it’s about connecting with the audiences you must reach to be successful. Tailor your message to:

> Reach those who are already looking for what you offer
> Respond to what they’re looking for, in their words
> Communicate benefits, not just features or a list of products and services

Go beyond basic demographics. Consider their role, their lifestyle, their age, their knowledge of your category. All of these factors will define how and where they communicate, and how decisions are made.

Need a little help defining your audiences? Download our audiences worksheet to get started.

5. Who’s part of your sales process?

Once you have a good picture of your target audiences, consider your sales process. Who’s involved? Who must be influenced at different levels in order to make a final buying decision?

Some organizations have a purchasing manager, a specifier and a review group. Others require a board presentation or approval. Still others are influenced by a professional referral. If these different groups are part of the business-to-business sales cycle, you must consider each as a separate target audience, with different expectations.

Others can be targeted as individuals, by their role. Parents and high school counselors are part of the college recruitment process, not just the potential student. Women are frequently influencers or the final decision maker in the car buying process. Peer groups influence Millennials (ages 12 to 24) when they choose brands. For insight on how each generation communicates, and how to reach them, download our generational marketing worksheet.

Targeted communications will have more impact

Create communication tools and messages to reach each of these audiences, where they connect. On your website, identify “tracks” for different audiences. Create literature that targets each role, what they need to know, and the benefits that directly affect them. The more customized and simplified these communications are, the more impact you’ll have. Avoid creating one big packet with ALL of the information in it. It will be overwhelming and won’t be read.

Define your position, rise above the competition

By establishing a strong position against your competition, every marketing investment will deliver a higher return. For more than 30 years we have been helping clients stand out and generate more response. Ready to get started? Contact us today.

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Looking for ideas, examples and inspiration? Visit our website to view our work.

P.S. Tip #6 is on our Facebook page! Click to visit. (Be sure to Like us!)

About the author

Jennifer Larsen Morrow

Jennifer's four decades of work in the industry, starting as a designer and adding marketing, copywriting and digital marketing, has generated response for clients since 1978.

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