January 22nd, 2021

Business Beat: Are you just upright and breathing? Be different

By Medicine Hat News on November 2, 2016.

I asked a business this past week “What information would help you in your business right now?” The response was probably similar to what a lot of businesses may be thinking, “How do I stand out from my competition?”

Ironically this past Monday I received a quote from Jill Harrington speaker and trainer with salesSHIFT that was along the same lines “Are you hoping to stand out using the following differentiators? ‘Your first class customer service. Your attention to detail. Your ability to complete projects on budget.’ Recognize this is akin to hoping to attract the right mate on a dating site by saying “I am upright and breathing.”

So how do you stand out? What makes you different?

How does your price compare to your competitors? Getting your price right is critical — too low and you can’t survive in business, but too high and you struggle to obtain sales. People are spending less as a result of the recession and they are choosing where to spend your dollars more strategically, so look at what your competitors are offering and evaluate your price.

What added value do you offer? With online shopping and other incentives for people to buy, what can you offer that’s unique to your business? Maybe its privileges such as a points system for purchases that can be redeemed for product or services, or perhaps it’s some kind of exclusive customer benefit or rewards program. Evaluate what your unique customer needs are and create incentives or special items that will draw people in.

Do you offer an element of convenience? We know that people are strapped for time and everyone wants more convenience. Whether personal door to door delivery, the ease of returning an item with no questions asked, personal or customized shopping experiences or convenient hours of operation for those that don’t have the luxury of shopping (or dining) during typical hours — these can all make an impact in terms of where people decide to do business.

Then there’s that element of trust. As the old saying goes — people buy from people they know, like and trust, so you need to establish relationships with your customers and potential customers so they can get to know you and know what you have to offer. This is most often done through networking and building your network of contacts, but can be coupled with an online rapport such as testimonials and online consumer opinions and ratings. Why not try incenting referral business as well, as this can add to your element of trust when customers are recommending their friends and family to your business.

Then there’s that element of being a good corporate citizen. Businesses that care for their communities and engage in activities that benefit their community as a whole stand out. Companies that support the causes their consumers care about at a local level have a greater differentiator than those that don’t. This is why shopping local has so much impact, because those dollars spent go back into our local community.

There’s a lot you can implement to differentiate yourself, but make it something that has impact. No one wants just “average”; and don’t forget to tell people what you’re doing. It’s one thing to offer it, but consumers needs to know what you’re offering in order to be drawn in!

There’s great resources out there including our various business service organizations in our community, as well as online resources such as http://www.salesSHIFT.ca, http://www.entrepreneur.com and http://www.businesslink.ca to name a few, so do your research and be more than just average.

Lisa Kowalchuk is the executive director of the Medicine Hat & District Chamber of Commerce. For more information on this column or the Chamber, contact 403-527-5214.


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