Differentiate your brand from the competition: 7 tips for success
Have you ever wondered how you could differentiate your brand from the competition? How do you differentiate your brand from others already in the market?
In today’s era of heightened competition in nearly every industry, it’s becoming more difficult to differentiate your brand. However, doing so has never been more important. Markets are saturated, and businesses are looking for new and innovative ways to stand out from the sea of competitors vying for consumers’ business.
7 tips to differentiate your brand
Here, we have compiled a list of the seven most important steps you can take to rise above the competition and stand out among the rest. The following can work for B2C and B2B differentiation.
1. Competitor research to identify areas for differentiation
As you set off on your journey to identify and implement the right tactics to differentiate your brand, it’s important to conduct some competitor research. This helps you identify product gaps in your competitors’ offerings. It also allows you to identify ways that you can achieve product and brand differentiation.
Before setting off on your research efforts, ask yourself this important question: What are others not doing that you could be doing? With that crucial question in mind, start researching competitors to identify those gaps.
You can conduct competitor research into any of the following areas (and many more):
- Product or service offerings
- Competitor content presence and impact
- How competitors’ websites and social media sites look and how engaging they are
- Competitor customer satisfaction levels
- Customer reviews of competitors’ products and/or services
- SEO research to see which competitors’ content displays the highest in search engine results
This is just a sample list to get you started. In your own research, you will want to identify the most impactful areas of your business. In other words, which parts of your public-facing brand image are the most influential in consumers’ purchase decisions? Identify those, and you’ll know which areas of your competitors’ presences to investigate.
Competitor research should be a primary element in any business’s brand reputation management efforts. Learn more about brand reputation management.
2.Solve a real problem for customers
To identify which problems you should focus on solving, you first should generate detailed buyer personas. Buyer personas provide insight into the main challenges, goals, pain points, and interests of your customer base. You can then take these insights and use them to uncover important problems that are not being solved by your competitors.
Once you identify those unsolved problems, you can take a few different approaches to solve them. However, once you come up with a plan of attack, validate it with your customers before implementing it. This is a great brand differentiation exercise.
The best way to do this is to request feedback from your customer advisory board (CAB). Your CAB can help you understand which of your plans will help differentiate your brand and which will not. Although, you won’t want to ask them directly whether your plan will differentiate your brand.
Rather, try to gauge whether their feedback and reactions to your plan are positive and encouraging. The pieces of your plan that generate such feedback have been validated. Those that do not generate excitement have not been validated, and you should reconsider including these in your plan. Learn how to implement a customer advisory board.
3. Deliver a world-class customer experience
The customer experience is quickly overtaking product and price as the key driver of consumers’ buying decisions. It is more important than ever, and every company should have a heightened focus on the customer experience.
When you deliver a world-class customer experience, your customers stay happier, stick around longer, can become brand advocates (more on that below), and show higher levels of brand loyalty.
A world-class customer experience leads to higher levels of customer satisfaction. When you have satisfied customers, you dramatically reduce customer churn, which helps ensure the survival of your business.
Are you still not convinced of the importance of the customer experience? If not, check out the statistics in this recent article we published on the customer experience.
4. Generate and nurture brand advocates
Brand advocates are people who love your brand so much they promote it to friends, family, or colleagues. They are also commonly referred to as “brand ambassadors” or “brand evangelists.”
When they become convinced of the value you offer the market, they start promoting. They do this on their own, without any request from your company.
This constitutes a great form of free advertising for your business. And it’s the best type of advertising at that. According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers trust brand recommendations from acquaintances more so than traditional forms of promotion.
Now, consider this additional statistic from Kapost: Every brand advocate generates on average three new customers each. That really drives the point home, no?
If you have heard of brand advocates but need a refresher on what they are and how to generate them, read our article about how to create brand advocates.
5. Customer service and support differentiation
This is a huge area that many companies overlook. But it is one of the most important areas to focus on when thinking in terms of how to differentiate your brand.
The quality of a company’s customer support and service directly impacts the overall customer experience. Consumer expectations are growing and companies that don’t deliver excellent customer service and support risk falling behind the competition.
If you do deliver excellence in these areas, you are embracing a best practice that will differentiate your brand.
But how can you ensure you are delivering a world-class service and support experience to your customers? The best way is to use customer satisfaction measurement methods to gauge satisfaction in specific areas.
One of the preferred measurement methods for this is the Customer Effort Score (CES). Do you need help in measuring customer satisfaction in various areas? Check out our article on measuring customer satisfaction and use it as a guide.
6. Become an expert in your space
If you paint yourself as an expert in your space, customers and prospects will look to you for advice. They will look for your content when they have a problem that needs to be solved. They will search your website for other resources that will help them. All of this will generate the sense that you are an expert in your space.
One central tenant of painting yourself as an expert is to produce content that delivers unique value. It needs to deliver value that others are not providing to the market. Content marketing is central to this effort and is an example of differentiation in marketing. Plus, it’s a great way to differentiate your brand in general.
Are not leveraging content marketing, or are you not intimately familiar with the concept? Check out our article full of tips for mastering content marketing.
7. Focus on social listening and monitoring
These days, more consumers use social media to gather new information about a brand than ever before. They also use social media to blast negative comments across the airwaves when they have a poor experience.
Consumers using social media have more power than ever to dictate the direction and future of a company. And you can use this information to help differentiate your brand.
If you are delighting customers, they will speak positively about your brand (think brand advocates). This, as discussed above, has monumental benefits for your business.
If you disappoint customers, many will quickly take to social media to share their negative experiences with the world. And it is done in a public forum, which can kill your brand reputation.
When someone posts a comment—whether positive or negative—you need to respond as quickly as possible.
You respond to positive comments by engaging the poster and trying to nurture your relationship with them. This can produce brand advocates.
You respond to negative comments by addressing the issue quickly and making the customer happy again. In this way, you can put out fires quickly and avoid the negative attention that toxic comments can produce.
How do you respond quickly? You use social listening and monitoring tools. They alert you in real time when someone mentions you on social media. Then, you can respond immediately and engage the poster while they are already engaged.
Want to learn more about social listening and monitoring tools and how to leverage them for your benefit? Check out this article that discusses how social listening can increase your social ROI.
With so much competition threatening the livelihood of your business, finding ways to differentiate your brand is critically important. It’s more important today than ever before.
Consumers can easily leave your brand for another if you don’t find ways to stand out from the crowd. The central goal of brand differentiation is to offer what your competitors are not. If you do that, you will start to shine, and consumers will quickly take notice.
Ultimately, most of the tips above boil down to delivering a world-class customer experience. That leads to higher levels of customer satisfaction, which lead to customer retention and long-term, sustainable business growth.
What tactics or strategies are you using to differentiate your brand from the competition? Tell us in the comments section below!