EPISODE 115: HOW TO DIFFERENTIATE YOUR ONLINE BUSINESS FROM YOUR COMPETITORS
Today on this episode, I want to talk about how to differentiate your online business from your competitors. This is important because we don’t want to go down the path of sameness as our competitors.
When it is hard to differentiate your business and your brand from your competitors, it is going to be hard for you to 1) command the prices that you want, and 2) to grow your online business.
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Topics Discussed In This Episode:
- The problem with not having a clear point of differentiation from your competitors
- 4 things you can do to differentiate from your competitors
- When you have a specialized skill, you get to differentiate yourself from all the other generalists
Hey I’m excited to be back again with another episode to help you hack your online business. Today on this episode, I want to talk about how to differentiate your online business from your competitors.
This is important because we don’t want to go down the path of sameness as our competitors. If you think of any brand or business or experts that you follow, chances are, that business or that person has something different about them.
Maybe it’s something different in the branding, or something different in the offer. Maybe there’s something unique about that business or that person. They don’t feel like just another business selling you something that you can get from 10 other businesses.
When I was traveling in Thailand, and I was visiting one of their huge outdoor markets where you can find all kinds of clothing, accessories, and food, I noticed that a lot of the shops were selling the same items.
A lot of stores sold the same t-shirt designs or the food stores sold the same kind of food, a lot of the things that were being sold at the market were just the same stuff. So what a lot of tourists will do is we’ll just walk around and find the store that sells that same item for the lowest price.
Because at the end of the day, you can tell that most of the goods came from the same supplier. So if they are all the same, then there’s no reason for people to pick the store that sells the same item for a higher price tag.
And I see this as well in online businesses. My very first online business was in social media marketing, and it’s a very saturated industry because a lot of people offer this service without a point of difference and it becomes a commodity that people compete on prices.
A lot of people are coaches and they unfortunately sound the same, say the same things, sell the same stuff, it’s really hard to differentiate one from the other.
When it is hard to differentiate your business and your brand from your competitors, it is going to be hard for you to number one, command the prices that you want, and number two, to grow your online business.
I want to walk you through a couple of things that you can do to differentiate your online business from your competitors.
But before we go on, don’t forget to leave a quick review for the podcast on Apple Podcast, it would take you 2 minutes and I would really appreciate it. When you subscribe to the show and leave a review, it helps Hack Your Online Business get found in Apple’s search results. You’ll be helping more online business owners discover this show. Now if you leave a review, take a screenshot, tag me on Instagram @thisischrystan and I’ll be sure to give you a shout out on the next episode.
The first way to differentiate yourself from your competitors is through your offer. Starting from the offer is often the easiest way to differentiate yourself from your competitors.
Is there something unique or quite different about your product or service? Is there a feature that most or all of your competitors don’t include in their offers? If you are a service provider, do you have a proven formula that gets your clients results?
There are a couple of questions to consider when you are looking at differentiating your online business through your offer.
The first question to ask yourself is are your products or services better at solving a key problem for your customers than your competitors? Why is it better at solving a problem, or if it’s not better at solving the problem, then what can you do with the offer to improve the problem-solving process?
When your offer gets your customers better results than your competitors, that is such a huge differentiation in the eyes of your target customers.
For example, if you are an online tutor and 90% of your students historically get into Ivy League colleagues, that is your differentiating point that is going to get you customers.
The second question is do you offer additional things or services to increase the value of your total offer? Is your current offer delivering a better value to your customers than your competitors?
I like to ask myself, what do my target customers find useful in having and can I include that as part of my offer? If I can make that part of my offer, then there’s a differentiation between me and my competitors.
So that’s number one, knowing if your products or services are better at solving a key problem for your customers than your competitors.
The second way to differentiate your online business from your competitors is offering a community for your customers. This could be in the form of a Facebook Group community, it could be a members-only forum, it could be regular meetups for your customers, it could be happy hour virtual group check in calls.
When you offer a community, it allows your customers to find a place of belonging with your other customers. It cements that brand loyalty because now they are more invested in your business.
One of the brands that I like is Teachable, they are an online course platform, and they have a Facebook group just for Teachable users called The Teachable Tribe. If you are a course creator, you can connect with the other Teachable course creators and share best practices.
Another online course platform that does this is Thinkific, and they’ve got a Facebook group called Thinkific Studio for Online Course Creators. I like Thinkific’s Facebook group a little more because they also have weekly themed threads. So for example, Monday you can catch Thinkific Experts leading a discussion.
Another business that is differentiated by their community is GoPro. It’s not just an action camera for sports and adventure. The GoPro community is hugely popular, so much so that GoPro’s marketing strategy is driven by the video content created by its community.
GoPro has a platform for their members to share their videos of their adventures. And every single day, around 6,000 GoPro tagged videos are uploaded to YouTube.
Besides having an online community, you can take your community offline as well. Lululemon sells luxury yoga gear and they have built a community around empowering their customers to lead a healthy, active lifestyle. They do so by offering free classes in their stores and they run festivals and events.
So that’s number two, creating a community for your customers and making your community the differentiation between you and your competitors.
The third way to differentiate your online business from your competitors is through having a world-class customer service and support.
We don’t realize how important good customer service and support is until we interact with a business that is horrible with their customer support. It turns you off their business forever.
Not too long ago, I decided to switch my podcast hosting company because I had an issue with a double billing. And the podcast hosting company replied very rudely and wouldn’t acknowledge that the double billing was due to an error in their systems.
By the time the customer support manager apologized for his team mate’s reply, it was too late. I had cancelled my subscription and moved on to another podcast hosting company.
A company that has great customer support in my opinion is Appsumo. It’s the software and tools deal site founded by Noah Kagan. A software and tools deal site is not a unique offer, they don’t really have a community, but what makes them different from the other software and tools deal sites is the fact that they have a 60-day no questions asked money back guarantee if you ever want to refund your purchase.
I personally have bought softwares and tools from Appsumo that I end up refunding because they weren’t a good fit, and not once was the refund process complicated. No questions were asked, they refunded immediately, and that’s why I still continue to use Appsumo.
Another business that built their differentiation through their customer support is Zappos. Zappos sells shoes and clothes online but they are not the only company selling shoes and clothes online, and their shoes and clothes are not particularly unique either.
What makes them different and why so many people continue to buy their shoes and clothes from Zappos is because they provide such amazing customer service.
I once read that each call center employee endures 4 full weeks of training on how to make customers happy before they actually start handling calls. The agents never use scripts, and they never upsell. In fact, the only thing that’s important to Zappos is one simple thing: that the customer is happy – no matter what.
One legendary Zappos customer service tale is about how the Zappos team hand delivered a traveler a pair of shoes from a rival shoe store free of charge after the woman realized she had forgotten hers at home and was disappointed to find Zappos no longer sold them.
Another Zappos story is about how Zappos sent the best man at a wedding a pair of shoes with expedited shipping free of charge after the original pair he ordered got misrouted in the mail, thus ensuring he didn’t go barefoot to the celebration.
We can see how amazing customer service and support can be such key differentiation between your online business and a competitor who is rude, cold or indifferent to customers.
So that’s number three, focusing on providing amazing customer service and support to differentiate your online business.
The fourth way to differentiate your online business is by being known for something specific. Like I mentioned earlier, when I started out, I was doing generic social media management. That made it difficult for me to differentiate my service from my competitors.
So what I decided to do was to be known for something specific, and that has been Messenger bot marketing and online business marketing. Knowing my specific niche and communicating it the right way consistently has been the key to asking for the prices I want.
Because now I am not just the person selling the same t-shirt as everyone else, I am known for something specific. When you have a specialized skill, you get to differentiate yourself from all the other generalists.
So the questions that you want to ask yourself as you think about what you want your business to be known for: who do I help? How can I help them? What is my expertise?
From those questions, you can start to define what you or your business should be known for. And from then on, just focus on selling that specific thing.
If your specific thing is productivity, then that’s all you talk about in interviews, on social media, in your videos, etc.
So I hope you find this episode very useful. Now don’t forget to subscribe to this podcast so that you don’t miss my weekly Monday and Thursday episodes.
Lastly, go connect with me on Instagram. I’ll love to get to know you and your online business. You can find me on Instagram at @thisichrystan, send me a DM and tell me you listened to this episode.
Anyway thank you so much for listening to this episode. Please leave us a review if you have not already, it means the world to me. Alright guys, talk to you soon.
Thanks For Listening, My Friend!
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