At a certain point, just about every new business owner feels like the competition is just too much to handle. It seems impossible to stand out. Thanks to the internet, every business operates in a GLOBAL context. What does this mean?
This means your great new idea is already being offered by 100 different people.
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Your business needs to stand out from the competition in order to survive, and not only that, but to THRIVE. The best way to do this is to identify your unique point of view – what you have to offer that your competition doesn’t – and to put that little piece of love in everything you do. This is called your value proposition.
This is part of the branding we normally do for our clients. It’s the base that every business needs to cover when becoming a purpose-filled brand.
Define Your Ideal Client to Stand Out From Your Competition
First, figure out who your ideal client is. We recommend finding them by using the persona technique with the tool on Xtensio.com. Look for details like:
- Where they shop
- The type of car they drive
- Their favorite hobbies and pastimes
- Who are their heroes? who do they look up to?
- What sports do they practice?
- Their favorite fast-food spot
- Or even, what kind of shoes they like to wear!
→ If you have an existing client base:
Don’t be afraid to ask them. Craft a questionnaire to help get to know them better (Google forms is super easy for this).
Ask them what kind of things they like. What they like from your service and what they don’t. Ask some psychographic questions so you can get to know them: What they like to do, to wear, to ride, or even to eat. It doesn’t matter if your business has nothing to do with these questions. In order to stand out from your competition, you have to know your clients. Try to find out what kind of buyers they are. Are they impulsive buyers? do they meditate a lot before buying? do they trust the opinion from their peers to choose? If you can, you can add some demographic questions like where they live, where they work. I say if you can because those questions can be boring and, sometimes for the online business, not that relevant.
→ If you don’t have a client base yet:
One of our favorite approaches is to go on online forums to ask the questions that our ideal clients would ask. You’ll get real-life feedback from users that you can use as a learning opportunity. Reddit is great for this.
The profile of your ideal client may change and adapt with time, so don’t be nervous to go into detail! Client bases change as market trends shift and as time progresses. Your client profile may also change shape as your business grows and adapts to fill your niche. This isn’t set in stone.
Identify Your Ideal Client’s Pains and Gains
We like to use the Pains and Gains Diagram. Also called, the value proposition canvas. Check out this example of the value proposition canvas for our own ideal client. Keep on reading for a better description of how to make it your own so you can use it with your own clients!
The target client that we identified and that we’ll be using for this example is Sally, a 47-year-old coach. You’ll see the Pains and Gains diagram example for Purpose Sprout’s ideal client below each section:
Let’s go a bit deeper into this diagram!
Client side (Left)
What keeps your ideal client awake at night?
What sticking points do your current clients experience when interacting with your services? For prospective clients, what problems and irritations lead them to seek you out in the first place?
EXAMPLE: Our target client suffers because tech is overwhelming for her. She fears looking unprofessional to her clients.
What do your clients dream of?
These are things your client wants but doesn’t expect to get. By identifying these for your ideal client, you’re opening your business up to be able to fulfill these unspoken hopes, which is one of the best ways to stand out from your competitors. Most of your competitors can do what your client base asks of them, but if you can give your clients what they want and more, that will stick out in their minds and make them loyal to you.
EXAMPLE: She dreams of having time to do what she loves and of having her brand speak for her (so, reflecting what she wants her coaching brand to reflect).
What concrete tasks do your clients want to complete?
These are generally the logistical manifestation of client pains and gains. So… more tangible! These will directly translate into what services you’ll offer clients.
EXAMPLE: She wants to be able to sell through the internet and to understand and scale her business online
Service side (right)
What can you do to end that suffering?
What is a quick way to relieve their pain? Find something that could grasp their attention by giving them something that will help them quickly. Maybe it’s a tutorial or a template. It’s your way to say: “Hey, I’m here! I can help!”
EXAMPLE: We could end her suffering with tech, by offering her tutorials and templates. We can also help her look professional by developing her online presence and brand voice.
Gain Creators to stand out
How can you make their dreams come true?
What do you think could make them happy? Maybe don’t think about your offering right now! My client would be happy if in her business they could… (achieve X/ make a bigger profit / have an easier process to take their clients through)
This is something your clients don’t expect but love to have. This is what really makes you stand out from the competition.
EXAMPLE: We could make those dreams come true by automating technical stuff to work FOR her! We can achieve this by designing her branding and website.
Products & Services
What can you offer to make that happen?
So here’s where you think about what you can do for YOUR client! What service can you offer that will give them the gain they need? What could you provide them with or what can you guide them through to take their pain away and to give them what they need?
EXAMPLE: We offer her a custom website to be able to have an online voice and to make sales online. Also, we offer strategy consulting to help her understand and scale her business online.
Read this next section to dive in deeper! ⤵
Your Core Job
At this point, you’ve defined what your ideal client suffers from, dreams of, and what concrete tasks they need to accomplish. Now you’re ready to define your client’s core job as the main thing that your client needs to receive regardless of the mediums. Because this is the core of what your business does, it should be consistent and unchanging in the foreseeable future.
If we take our business, Purpose Sprout, as an example, the core job for our ideal client is to scale their business online. The services we currently offer to help them accomplish this are Website Creation, Lead Magnet & Resource Design, Branding, and consulting. In a few years, maybe our clients won’t need these services anymore. But even in that case, the core job, to scale their business online, won’t change. It will simply have adapted. And if that happens, the services we’ll offer will shift to adapt to that as well.
Differentiate From the Competition With Your Value proposition
After identifying this core job, now identify your value proposition. To do this, start by thinking about:
- What are your core beliefs and values?
- How do you conduct business?
- How do your employees react to different situations?
Remember, what you offer is not for everyone, and NOT everyone is looking for the same thing.
To connect what you exactly offer and how you offer it, with the clients that are looking exactly for that, is the objective of your value proposition. This is what makes you stand out from the competition because of what you are.
Another way to approach this is to fill out this basic formula as a Value Proposition trigger:
I/WE HELP [YOUR TARGET MARKET] DO [WHAT YOU DO] BY [HOW YOU DO IT].
By completing that formula, you’ll have identified the following:
- Your target market, based on your ideal client analysis.
- What you do, based on your jobs defined in the Pains and Gains diagram.
- How you do it, based on the services you offer in order to accomplish the jobs you identified.
“Standing out from the competition” sounds like a pretty vague directive at first glance. And for a lot of companies, it is! But conceptualizing it as part of a process of research, careful thought, and introspection about your business’s goals will set you up to think about it in a more systematic way.
As your business grows over time, set aside time to reevaluate these takeaways. That way, you’ll be able to adapt to changes in the market, your clients, and your company’s comparative advantages, beliefs, and employee strengths. Stand out from the competition because of what you are, and what you offer. Don’t stand out just by trying to catch random attention. This is an ongoing process, just like the rest of growing a successful business. 🌱