Let’s face it, unless you’ve had the most amazing idea, or found a completely untapped market, it is reasonable to expect that you will have competitors. On first impressions, it may appear that they offer exactly the same as your business. They are in the same industry, with same products and services.

So, why would a customer choose you over your competition? Here’s some ideas that have worked very well for me: Take a close look at your competition: I like to choose at least 3 competitors to get a good view of what other businesses are offering my potential customers. Once I’ve established genuine competitors (on first glance a company could seem a competitor by offering similar products and services, however, if I’m targeting trade customers and they are targeting consumer customers, we could in fact collaborate in the future!) I try to be as objective as possible to find reasons why a customer might choose their business over mine.

I then take action to ensure that I am giving myself every opportunity to succeed with my target market in the following ways: Identify unique selling points: Focus on one or two unique points that set your business apart from your competitors. Talk to your potential customers about how those unique points benefit them. Don’t tell them the different points, just explain the benefits to them. For example, in my field, there are a number of sales mentors/consultancy businesses – what sets me apart is that I come from a corporate background, I draw on that experience to help SME businesses achieve their sales and marketing goals. The benefit to my clients is a structured approach,  and exceptional service, backed up by the knowledge that I’ve made significant achievements in a company that holds much credibility (Vodafone), so they know that they can trust and check out what I say I have delivered and achieved, and be confident in knowing that I can help them to meet their sales and marketing objectives.

Trust and credibility are imperative in consultancy work. What is imperative to your potential and existing clients? Are you telling your customers why they should choose you? Remember it’s all about what’s in it for your customer, so don’t tell them why you’re different, tell them how the differences benefit them.

Stay relevant to your target market: The world is a very different place to what it was last year, 5 years ago, 10 years ago and is changing all the time. It’s always good to review your products and services to ensure that they are relevant to today’s target market. Keep things fresh, your services may not be very different, but you may need to present them in a different way to stay relevant in your area of expertise. For example, a virtual assistant may offer secretarial services, but may focus on promoting letter writing, however, email is a far more used method of communication these days, so a change in marketing may be needed, same service, but the letters are written and sent electronically, ensuring that they stay relevant in today’s world.

Be you: It’s a well known fact that people buy from people. Sure you can have the best product/service at the best price, but unless your potential customers can see the real you and trust/like you, you’re not going to get far! Social selling and social media marketing are changing the way that people buy products and services. If people like and trust you, they will tell their peers, colleagues, friends and family about you, with most people spending at least an hour a day on social media, they will tell far more people than they would have in the past about your products and services, so be you and go and engage with your customers – steal a march on those that are not doing so, and you will establish credibility, likeability and trust and so make it far more difficult for your competitors when they finally get the “social” element of business.