Work “on” your business rather than “in” it.” It’s a mantra we frequently hear as business owners, but what exactly should we be doing “on” to give us the greatest return on our efforts?

As a digital marketer responsible for growing businesses, my pick is doing more to stand out from your competitors.

Some businesses are fine avoiding this type of work. A strong market demand is enough to spread the work around. The old adage comes to mind, “A rising tide floats all boats.”

There are those, however, who have no choice. They have to stand out to survive or – to continue the ocean analogy – they are “dead in the water.” For instance, how would you like to launch a restaurant in the super competitive markets of New York, London, and Paris?

Research shows that over 90% of restaurants fail, and those who remain must compete daily with the many thousands of others all fighting for the same hospitality spend.

However, each night in London, Paris, New York, and Mexico, people happily line up to dine at the restaurant Le Relais de Venise L’Entrecote. Quite a surprising thing when you realize that the menu contains a single option – a green salad for starters, then rib-eye steak cut into strips served over fries with a famous house sauce for a main.

Round this off with a very small selection of desserts, and you are done. It’s not super cheap – just affordable and extremely good food. Add the option of second helpings at no extra cost, and you have a winning combination that survives in some of the most competitive spaces to run a restaurant.

You may not operate in markets as tough as these that require such a dramatic approach to the conventional way of doing business. You could be getting by with a “similar to others around you” strategy. However, do any of these four points ring true to you?

  1. Lower profit margins. It can be a challenge charging a premium price when people can find exactly what you are offering from someone close by for less.
  2. Reduced new customer growth. Why should customers repeatedly pick you over others when you all look the same? Yes, there may be some growth, but not at the pace you could achieve.
  3. Difficulty in securing financing. Maybe you need a bank to help fund your growth? Lenders may be hesitant to invest if they can see no difference between you and your competitors.
  4. Struggling to attract good talent. Why should people want to work for you when you offer the same growth plans and learning as others who could well want to pay them more?

Do one or two ring true?

Here are some thought starters on the areas you can work on to stand out. Generally speaking, there are five that people focus on:

  1. Quality: Delivering a product that is of noticeably better quality than their competitors.
  2. Price: Being the cheapest or even the most expensive – so long as any premium you command can be justified in the eyes of your market.
  3. Design: By delivering unique designs or features that make them stand out.
  4. Brand: Creating and promoting a strong brand identity that makes you more memorable than your competitors.
  5. Service: Providing exceptional service that is noticeably different from the competition standard.

The business category you work within will have its setting across these areas. For instance, one of our customers stands out just by politely answering the phone every time it rings. The service levels in their market are shocking.

Another has created some technology that allows customers to deliver a repeatable and reliable solution to their problem, while cheaper competitors offer a random and unreliable way that tries to achieve the same.

Understanding where the gaps are in your market is usually a good first step. Think of locating the “default setting” that customers have become used to receiving. Then locate the bits that you can make “better than default” in a way that appeals to the customers you serve and the goals you have for your business.

For instance, Le Relais de Venise L’Entrecote focused on delivering affordable good food – a benefit all diners are looking for. This goal becomes progressively harder to achieve with the more items you add to your menu. Holding the price down with a wider menu hits both quality and profitability problems. However, by trimming it down to the one meal, it allows the focus to deliver the best option for every ingredient, all delivered at the right price to serve the diner and the business owner.

Here at ARK, we can support your thinking as you work through this process. Give us a call if you would like to chat more about this. We grow businesses in the home services category. Our knowledge of this category enables us to correctly use each channel (Google/Meta/Pinterest) to deliver an affordable and reliable lead generation strategy.

Contact us today if you would like to learn more.