If you don’t know why business uniqueness is essential you might find this article 7 simple steps to ensure your business stands out useful to read first but if you get why you need business uniqueness but are finding it scary to sit by yourself and think of ways to create it; here’s 16 ideas which will help you kindle your creative flame.
Find a trait that separates you from your competitor’s businesses. This trait could be anything which your competitor will find hard to imitate or that they won’t realise is making your business stand out.
When I think of traits I think of integrity, resilience, motivation, curiosity, creativity, compassion, enthusiasm, knowledge, flexibility, passion, drive, confidence, dependability, independence, ability to focus, communication skills and other positive parts of people’s personality which allow them to be unique.
You may think that something in this list is ideal or you may think of another trait entirely which you would like to be known for.
The trick here is to check out that your competition is not using this trait as part of their uniqueness because you can’t be unique if you are copying. Chances are that some of your competitors have never even thought about this before so you will have lots and lots of choices and you can focus on the one that means the most to you.
Your business model can be a great place to create business uniqueness. If all your competition is using the same business model then developing a different one could be magic.
So what do I mean by business model?
Let’s consider portable toilets – after all they don’t seem to be very unique from each other do they? Most business just hire out basic portable toilets in heavy duty plastic, tall boxes that most of us don’t want to use but often need to.
But there are a small number of businesses that are creating portable toilets that we would all be happy to use. Fancy, pretty, even elegant toilets or those that cater for disabled people. If you were having an outdoor wedding which one would you prefer to offer your guests?
Imagine a portable toilet with an attendant who ensured it was clean between uses or one that plays music and smells really good. By focusing on a different market and a different business model (not hiring toilets for construction sites etc) you could really stand out.
Just as portable toilets don’t just have to be basic so too there are opportunities to do things differently in many other industries if you just consider changing the business model.
However your industry is set up now doesn’t mean you have to follow their business models and do it the same way. You may find that a change of model allows you to wonderfully create business uniqueness.
Another opportunity for businesses to develop their uniqueness is by providing superior customer service. Not just good customer service but superior to your competition. To achieve this you need to think about customer service from your customer’s point of view.
How could you make sure that their experience of doing business with you exceeds their expectations? Whether you are doing more than you promise, or dealing with issues in a more positive way, you need to know that this is what your customers will appreciate.
So you need to be asking customers or potential customers what problems they are having now or hanging out in places on social media where they are telling each other what hassles they are having. Can you make it easier and more enjoyable for them to buy you?
Many businesses think that customer service is important but as soon as they get busy it is the first area that they let go. How can you ensure that this isn’t happening in your business and then how will you tell everyone about the unique customer service that you offer?
Last year I had the unfortunate situation of having my car die on a busy motorway (yes it literally couldn’t be resuscitated). I dealt with 2 businesses which came to my rescue – a towing business and an automotive repair shop. Both of them gave better than good service – their service was superior – and they made the experience one that I actually feel positive about today.
I gave them great Google reviews and look for every opportunity I can to recommend them to people I meet who could use their help. That’s how creating business uniqueness through superior customer service can make finding new customers easier.
A clever way to create uniqueness for your business is by finding a new use for an old product. During the Covid-19 lockdown people starting putting teddy bears in their windows for children to “hunt” on their daily walks. But one farmer built a huge teddy bear out of round hay bales – and got national attention for it. That’s uniqueness by finding a new use for an old product. Using scraps of cotton fabric to make beeswax wraps is another.
There are people who stand out because they are recycling, up-cycling and re-using all kinds of resources that might otherwise end up in landfill.
But you don’t have to be a recycler to use this idea. Maybe you have thought of a different use for an existing product that offers benefits to your customers or solves a problem for them. By recognising and promoting this new use before anyone else you can be unique in the market.
Just what do you have access to that could give you an opportunity to offer business uniqueness without having to spend a lot of money and yet be a complementary product to the product or service that you currently sell?
The next idea for creating business uniqueness is based on the psychology of selling. Research shows us that people usually buy for emotional reasons and justify their buying later with logic.
Creating an emotional response with your buyers is a perfect way of standing out in their mind. Examples of this are luxury car brands which build on their customer’s emotional desire or ego even to encourage purchase. If you ask the buyer they will steadfastly support the brand of their choice as being the best available in the price range.
You don’t have to be a luxury brand to make the most of this response though, a local confectionery company created uniqueness by promoting the fact that they didn’t use palm oil in their recipe and were thus helping to save rainforests unlike their competition. The emotional appeal of saving rainforests meant their market share grew impressively and they retained that support over many years.
Words which appear on products such as safe, gentle, pure, clean and many others are utilising this emotional response and the brands are creating business uniqueness from it. But it is important here to say that you need to completely honest in the claims you make because uniqueness based on emotion must be based on the truth if you want it to stand out in a positive way.
Another way you can develop business uniqueness is by looking to offer simplicity or convenience to the customers. Every transaction we engage in as buyers we look for ways to make it easier or more convenient to achieve. Examples such as driving up to buy a coffee on the way to work rather than parking and walking a few steps and using Paywave so we don’t have to enter our pin number spring to mind straight away.
What could you do to make your service or product simpler to access or use? Or is there some way to make it more convenient for your customers to buy it from you?
The huge growth in membership businesses shows how important simplicity and convenience are to some people. Here I am immediately thinking of the growth in food box delivery products with a huge variety available now.
Simplifying the service or product you sell or plan to sell may make it more financially viable and also separate you from your competitors. Making it more convenient for your customers to access it removes a barrier to buying and allows you to be different to others in your industry. Whatever you can do here will give you the opportunity to create and promote uniqueness for your business.
Here’s a great way to create business uniqueness if you are a creative person or have creative people who can help you.
Using creative thinking – thinking that’s outside the box – can give you a real edge when it comes to ensuring that your business stands out.
While all the businesses in your industry do things in a conforming way you can be very different and attract customers who love your interesting and maybe even challenging approach.
Whether it is your design, your name, your logo, the way you help people or a myriad of other ideas standing out because of creativity is an exciting way to develop your business and usually not something that will be copied by others.
And the opportunities here are obviously endless. Anything can be developed with creativity and anything can be presented to the market with it too. A company I worked with many years ago promoted their plastic containers at a packaging exhibition. Ho hum for many but we used a cartoon gorilla as a backdrop and we gave away small pots with peanuts in the shell in them and the gorilla on the outside.
We were known as the monkey pot people and for months (or perhaps even years) I would see the little pots with the cartoon gorilla sitting on people’s desks being used for storing bits and pieces but still with our website, phone number and container sizes clearly visible.
We never regretted using that creativity to create our business uniqueness.
Another unusual way of creating business uniqueness is to focus on helping groups that might otherwise have been overlooked by your competitors. We know that there are many sightseeing tours available in cities but a new business that’s starting to do well offers daytime trips for older people who might otherwise be at home and lonely and these trips are not just about sightseeing but also about socialising.
Instead of focusing on the obvious tourist market the owner has created her uniqueness by focusing on an overlooked opportunity and is fulfilling a social ambition for herself as well as a unique business for her customers.
There are many ways that businesses can be built by targeting overlooked groups and though it might only be one part of the business it can be used to ensure that the business stands out in all the customer’s minds. Businesses which use the buying power of their customers to provide for others (think buy a lunch and one gets delivered to a hungry school child) are really noticeable in comparison to their competitors because of this uniqueness.
So think about what groups of potential customers are out there for your business and see if there are any overlooked ones which you could service and be unique.
As Dr Seuss said so well “No one is youer than you” so using your personal uniqueness to create business uniqueness is another idea which might work well for you.
To use this you need to focus on your unique abilities, experiences and skill set which make you stand out from everyone else in your industry. What do you offer your customers because of your individuality or background that no-one else can?
Don’t be afraid to concentrate on yourself as your source of business uniqueness because customers enjoy buying from businesses where they feel that the personality of the owner is part of what they are buying into.
This is a particularly good strategy if you have experience or a skill set which you obtained in a different location, culture or country than you are establishing your business in. Your personal uniqueness here will be very hard for your competitors to replicate in their businesses.
I can think of businesses from butchers, to cafes and restaurants, to public speakers who stand out because of the uniqueness of the owners rather than the uniqueness of their services or products. Maybe you should give this idea a go too.
Being unusually reliable or dependable is another way that you can create business uniqueness.
This works really well if these attributes are important to your market and if you are a person who works well to an exact timetable or set of guidelines. Of course that won’t be everyone who is reading this article.
When I think of reliability or dependability I mainly think of services which are completed on a regular basis but it could also be delivery of products which are used regularly.
While this idea doesn’t seem particularly exciting it certainly works for many small businesses which have customers referred to them because they can be relied on to deliver what they promise every time. And if you are not keen on promoting yourself and your individuality then being known for these attributes instead could be an easier way to create business uniqueness.
Another great idea for uniqueness is to narrow your target market. Concentrate on a group of potential customers who will get the highest level of satisfaction from your product or service and build your uniqueness around catering just for them.
Offering a lawn mowing service for just those people who want a manicured lawn that is weed free rather than the rest of us who just want it to be kept under control is one example of narrowing your target market and creating business uniqueness.
You can do this for most products or services especially when you are starting out and you will quickly stand out against the others competing in your industry. Often businesses think they need to cater for as many people as possible to be able to grow their customer base but concentrating on a smaller; more focused market is usually a better strategy.
Once your reputation (and uniqueness) is recognised in this part of the market it is easier to develop other markets if you wish but starting out by trying to satisfy everyone will make it much more difficult for you to specialise in the market that is most profitable for you later.
For some businesses the best way to create business uniqueness is by being innovative and offering a new product or service that is not already offered by your competition. I need to include some words of warning though – it might be that it isn’t offered by the competitors because it just isn’t financially viable.
So if this is the way you choose to develop uniqueness then you need to make sure that you have done your market research as well as you can and also that you have checked and rechecked your costings. Not every new idea is a good idea.
But if it is a good idea then standing out by promoting your innovation is a great way to create uniqueness for your business. It may be that others imitate you once they see your success but you can always talk about being the first or the original which they will never be able to claim.
Innovative uniqueness applies to all the new products or services which we bought in the last 12 months that didn’t exist in the 12 months before that. So thinking about what our customers will be delighted to buy in the next year is a great way to stand out.
And even if your service or product is not new or innovative the way you present it, deliver it or package it could be. Don’t just think of completely new things but new ways to satisfy customer needs or solve their problems.
This idea is not going to be suitable for everyone, but it has been the basis of some of the most successful businesses in the world, so read through, and then think it through just in case it will work for you.
Using idle capital is an exciting way to create business uniqueness. What do I mean by this? Think about Uber and AirBnB who have hugely successful businesses based on using other people’s assets which are not being fully utilised (that’s idle capital).
They don’t own the assets they just own the system that allows people to use their idle capital to make revenue. And these concepts are spreading into more and more areas where assets are waiting to be better utilised.
Who would have guessed that individual properties would become part of the biggest hotel chain in the world? But I bet that not one person reading this article did not recognise the brand AirBnB – that’s standing out in customer’s minds and having uniqueness.
Consider if there is idle capital in your industry and see if there is a way to utilise in a unique way that benefits the owners and the customers and you could be on to a business uniqueness winner.
Quality is another idea for creating business uniqueness. Offering and delivering a higher level of quality than your competitors is a way of standing out in your customer’s minds. And quality can be a part of your product or service or the way you provide them to your customers.
The reason this works so well is that we perceive that we are getting higher value when the quality of what we buy is higher than we thought we would receive. And yet, adding a higher level of quality might be only adding a small cost to it so the perceived value will greatly outweigh the effort.
Sometimes the high quality of a service or product is expected by the customer but they are still prepared to pay a higher price because they “see” the value that the quality offers. This is particularly true when you think of the prices people pay for mobile phones because a brand is perceived as offering better quality.
If you can add quality to your product or service you too could differentiate your business from your competitors and create uniqueness for your business which could be incredibly valuable.
One of the most perfect ways of creating business uniqueness is by linking your business to a social issue which is reflected in your personal and business values. You must be completely genuine about wanting to make a change or improvement to support others but you can then link this social issue to your business.
An example of this is a business which launders cloth nappies for parents who are too busy to do it themselves. The parents want to reduce the number of disposable nappies being sent to landfill and so does the owner of the business. In fact, she regularly updates the figures on the amount of waste they have all prevented from going into landfill and this is how she ensures that her business stands out in her customer’s minds.
What are the issues that matter most to you and your family or team? How can you make a difference through your business and importantly how can you tell your potential customers about it and gather their community support?
There are businesses in all kinds of industries who are making a difference and creating business uniqueness at the same time. Just be sure that you are authentic in your desire to support the cause though because you will be exposed if you are not genuine and this would be very harmful to your business.
My last tip will certainly appeal to anyone with a great sense of humour. Using offbeat humour to create business uniqueness is a perfect opportunity for you to make the most of that crazy way of thinking which you enjoy so much. It also has the potential to make your brand go viral if you hit on some humour which appeals to a wide audience.
But you don’t need to try to make everyone laugh. Offbeat humour which appeals only to your target market is a great way of being unique – a type of in-house joke – that makes them feel special because they are part of the community that appreciates it.
You will only find this tip appropriate if you enjoy offbeat humour and tend to be the one who makes jokes, laughs and generally has a slightly crazy side to you. Utilise this and you can create business uniqueness which will make people smile – how good would that be?
Some businesses use humour in the copy on their website – adding funny bullet points at the end of product descriptions and others use jokes or poems as part of their copy.
You can also add bizarre or quirky products to your normal range just to make customers smile or use humour in your advertising like M&M’s do.
However you choose to incorporate your offbeat humour be sure that it will create business uniqueness if it is well done and is used regularly right across your brand.
I hope you have found these tips helpful and that by now you have focused on one way to create business uniqueness. I hope I see you being successful really soon.
© Robyn Forryan
The Biz Coach NZ