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Do you struggle finding ways to differentiate your brand from your competitors, especially if you’re starting out in a heavily matured market? In today’s market 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 working diligently for consumers’ business. I've shared some tips below on things you can do to be a fruit loop in a bowl of plain cheerios.

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 research your competitors. 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.

2. Solve a real problem for customers

To identify which problems you should focus on solving, you first should generate real buyer personas. This exercise will 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.

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 service experience, your customers stay happier, stick around longer, can become brand advocates and show higher levels of brand loyalty.

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.

5. Become an expert in your field

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.

6. 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 has monumental benefits for your business, but 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.

In a #redocean, finding ways to differentiate your brand is critically important, 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 consumer retention and long-term, sustainable business growth. Throw on your #redheels because you've got this!


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