Sometimes in the quest to promote our businesses we can get sucked into trying to look like everyone else. Mimicking the qualities of successful people is fine; it can help us improve and try on new ideas or approaches. But you must stay connected to the core of what makes your brand unique or you risk disappearing into a sea of sameness.
Our age of social sharing and comparison is driving some strange trends. Like the relentless repetitiveness of those oft-desired Instagram looks. Instagrammer Insta_Repeat spotlights the persistent déjà vu of outdoor goers. In an interview with Design You Trust, she notes “Turns out that while many people may believe that they are pretty special, they are, knowingly or not, following a generic formula that has been laid out and done countless times before.”
Replicating some formula is no way to engage customers or clients. Discover how you stand out from the crowd, articulate your unique qualities and translate that personality into meaningful communications that connect and even sell.
How to Stay Authentic, Unique: Know Your Brand Strengths
What do you and your team truly excel at? What specific qualities and metrics show that to be true?
Is it technical expertise? Personal connections? Passion for something? After doing website design for many years, I started to acquire clients who had become frustrated with other companies or freelancers. According to the clients, the initial process of putting the site together was often fine. But they found follow-up to be a range from abrupt to non-existent. Apparently, even the simplest traits of being considerate or responsive set Grotto apart.
Listen to how your best clients describe what you do for them. How do you make them feel when their needs and goals are met? If you’re a healthcare practitioner, you may provide a solid diagnosis and treatment plan to help the patient feel better. But people will often give higher marks and coveted referrals when they experience empathy and observe strong listening skills when it comes to their choice of provider.
Maybe you’ve got a flair for the arts – even if you do financial or technical work for a living. You might be able to use that point of view to help connect with prospective clients and get an edge over someone who maybe has the same degree and years’ of experience. Even if there are three firms with similar skill sets, one will be a better fit simply because they were more memorable or made a meaningful personal connection with the client.
Know What Your Competitor’s Strengths Are
If you understand better how your business fits into the local landscape or greater marketplace, you can position your business to connect more realistically with prospects.
Maybe you heard through the grapevine (or gleaned from Yelp reviews) that a competitor is using entry-level hires or interns to do sophisticated projects in order to save overhead. But the end-results don’t seem to be adding up. Maintaining quality standards and communicating transparently with clients or customers can go a long way to helping them see you as an advocate and partner.
Collect the Good Stuff: Testimonials Tell Your Story for You
Now that everybody and their ducks are perfectly comfortable broadcasting their every like and whim online, it’s far easier to get clients to say nice things about you. Don’t be afraid to ask. You won’t come off pushy or desperate as long as you respect their choice and their wording. (And, yes, you can usually make very minor edits.)
Make it easy for them by adding quick surveys to any forms or online. Watch for compliments in emails or other communications to you or your staff and ask for permission to share them. One line at the bottom of a quick email could be just the gem you’re looking for to spice up your marketing materials.
Working with a client to improve their website, she closed an email with “Thanks so much for your work on this, I’ve learned a lot from you!” What a great feeling. It’s good to get feedback that my intention to be educational (when someone is open to learning more) is effective, welcome.
So how do you stand out?
If you need some help to see it more clearly or tell your story, get in touch.