Standing out from the pack
As a freelancer or someone running a small business, your ability to stand out from the competing pack and be seen by the sort of customers you really want, can be quite a challenge.
It’s not always easy to pick out, with confidence, exactly how you offer something that you worry might limit your opportunities or miss the audience you most want to attract.
Discovering your unique proposition
The key to standing out is in offering something that matters to your customers, something they’re not finding now; a benefit they’ll value that’s meaningfully which isn’t being satisfied by all your competitors. You can often pick up signals from their website, blogs, social media feeds or forum responses, or talk to them when networking.
It doesn’t have to be something so unique that no-one else has ever offered it (brilliant if you can). If only a handful of competitors in your field offer what you can offer, you will still stand out from the rest of the pack, perhaps adding some additional skills and attributes that further the uniqueness of your proposition.
Do your research. You know what you are good at. Start drilling down into the content of competing websites and you’ll soon see that some competitors are offering one or two things that others don’t, and are actively promoting these. They obviously believe that these will make a difference.
What sorts of differentiators are there?
Being all things to all men / women will limit your opportunities. Being more of a specialist in a certain discipline within a specific industry sector (e.g. agency, hi-tech, professional, education, creative, community), might work better for you?
You could offer a niche product or service to target sectors within a mainstream company, focusing on the emerging challenges they might face (such as digitisation or legislation change for instance). Offer a different way of charging for your services like using a fixed rate, rather than by the hour. As technology connects global communities, think about expanding your horizons, offer high quality content or proprietary knowledge that global customers can only get from you.
Freelancers and small businesses can be more agile than large ones, reacting faster to changing opportunities and gaining market share in innovative sectors quicker than the competition. But always ensure your target audience recognise the new outcomes.
Defining your ability to stand out is one thing, now you have to go out and gain new customers and build relationships with them to achieve the most valuable prize – repeat business, which as it happens is the subject of my next blog post.
Next post: New customers and repeat business.
Gerry Westwood, 9th August 2017. Cambridge Space Blog
Source: Differentiation. The Hinge Institute.
Keywords – standing out, offering something different, unique proposition, differentiating your skill set, competition, freelancers,