Sourced from Forbes.
Standing out from the crowd is essential when competing in the business world. However, when trying to differentiate their company, entrepreneurs can sometimes make serious mistakes if they don’t have a clear strategy in place. In trying to make their business or service offerings stand out—especially in a saturated market—leaders can sometimes create the opposite effect, and either not get noticed at all or make their company somewhat unapproachable.
These mistakes can ultimately drive people away from the company instead of turning them into loyal customers. Below, 13 entrepreneurs from Forbes Coaches Council examine some of the worst mistakes that business owners can make when attempting to differentiate their business from the competition, and explore why those methods are so ineffective.
1. Not Niching Down Enough
Owners worry that if they focus too much, they’ll “miss out on an opportunity.” But focusing all marketing and messages on a specific market niche that values your best work allows ideal clients to easily recognize you are the right resource among all options. – Dodie Jacobi, Dodiodo Inc.
2. Targeting The Wrong Audience
Business owners often target the masses, thinking they will easily reach their consumers. This tactic doesn’t allow them to narrow their demographics to their ideal customers who are most likely to buy, nor align key brand messages. This tactic is ineffective and costly. Before designing your campaign, execute a customer segmentation and profile for your products and services and your company brand. – Lori Harris, Harris Whitesell Consulting
3. Not Being Bold Enough
If you’re trying to differentiate yourself, you have to actually differentiate yourself. Too often, businesses who want to differentiate themselves don’t take the steps to take a bold stand to be different. They stay generic and subjective, and simply too vanilla. Staying vanilla doesn’t work for obvious reasons, so give yourself permission to be bold and stand out! – Jon Dwoskin, The Jon Dwoskin Experience
4. Not Being Clear On Their ‘Why’
In a saturated market, what makes you stand out is getting clear on your purpose (knowing your “why”) and being true to it in your messaging, your recruitment, your processes and your branding. This is how you connect emotionally to your target market and create loyalty with your customer base. First know what you’re about, why you’re in business and your message will stand out and make an impact. – Daphna Horowitz, Daphna Horowitz Leadership
5. Making Stuff Up
A common mistake is to claim you have something no one else has. Your competitors likely have all that you have (or will soon) and you look foolish to claim it’s uniquely yours. Instead, differentiate your company by creating a personality for it. Zappos and Toms Shoes are great examples—people connect to the humanity of these companies. Have the tools and be likeable too. – Anita Hodges, Anita Speaks 2U
6. Jumping On Trends
With the internet, we face daily competition from businesses who can look, sound and feel like yours every day. For example, there is a trend toward online, step-by-step coaching that is driven with zero face-to-face meetings. That can work, but we have gone against the grain and made our services more exclusive, highly personalized and relationship-based. We don’t ignore AI, but we pair it and it works. – John M. O’Connor, Career Pro Inc.
7. Trying Something That’s Not Proven
It makes sense that when you are trying to differentiate yourself, you would want to “zig” when everyone else is “zagging.” Being innovative will make you stand out, but you have to test the market and prove that your tactic will work. Putting your time, money and energy into unproven methods can be a costly mistake for your business. – Jenn Scalia, Million Dollar Mommy dba Jenn Scalia
8. Mimicking Others
When business owners say they want to differentiate, I cringe when I see a list they’ve compiled of what others in their industry do. While the knowledge is helpful, some owners try to mimic what others are doing instead of moving into more competitive-free waters. The key to business survival is to maintain the “wow” factor for your customers. This can only be accomplished through originality. – Karan Rhodes, Shockingly Different Leadership
9. Competing On Price
Focus on premium pricing. Without exception, I will always be the most expensive solution in any market. That creates exclusivity and differentiation. If you are a low-priced solution, you are forgettable and nobody is served well. The best clients are the ones who want the best and will pay for it. Ignore the rest. Your pricing is a direct reflection of your personal and business brand. – Mike Koenigs, MikeKoenigs.com
10. Bashing The Competition
Forty years ago, IBM sales training taught me to say “competitor X company is adequate.” There is nothing worse than a company bashing the competition. Say only positive-to-neutral things and focus on your company’s differentiators. Even if a prospect asks for the differences, come back to your key messages about what you do better or similar. Script your team on your killer value proposition. – Dana Manciagli, Job Search Master Class
11. Always Comparing To Others
Though product and services comparison may work, it is a short-sighted approach. Comparison in a crowded market may, in some cases, even be harmful by providing additional exposure for competitors. A more sustainable approach, however, is a combination of providing education and creating a customer-centric organization. These organic differentiations are long-term and not subject to fads. – Kamyar Shah, World Consulting Group
12. Overspending On Marketing
Businesses in a saturated market may feel obligated to spend more in marketing; however, they need to develop an effective marketing strategy and develop a unique sales methodology. They also underpriced their services. Being the cheapest option devalues your services or products. Instead, offer something so valuable that people will pay your price. – Katrina Brittingham, VentureReady LLC
13. Not Researching What The Market Wants
Asking potential and current customers is the first step to breaking through a saturated market. Ask what’s wrong with the current solution providers and find out what consumers really value. Create a solution to the problems and innovate your offerings. It could simply mean educating the customer on your differentiation, or a marketing tweak. Knowledge is power. Use it to be disruptive. – Christine Nielsen, Contrast Coaching & Consulting