Whether you call it being authentic, your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) or something else, what it boils down to is: what makes you stand out from the crowd? This is important in any aspect of your career but especially if you run your own business.
My own USP
I was chatting with Nicole Osborne, a social media and marketing strategist about my own marketing strategy who runs Lollipop Social. I know who my target audience are, tick. I know what my niche is, tick. Whilst I thought I knew what made me stand out from the crowd, I still felt like I was missing something.
Nicole and I talked about words that were meaningful to me, such as authentic, empathetic, professional. I talked about being a lighthouse. We talked about my style and approach to ‘selling myself’ and I laughed and said I had found that most people responded to my interrupted approach to videos when my kids got involved! Nicole asked me about my most popular posts and I mentioned one of a picture of my kitchen looking messy because I was focusing elsewhere, but still feeling guilty about it.
Nicole said to me: “your USP is being a mum of (almost) three, trying to run your own business” – that’s what is going to draw people to you. It makes you real.
Deep down I knew this but I was shying away from it as I didn’t want to alienate anyone. The problem with that is that it isn’t coherent! So what to do? We talked about who I admired and how they stood in their own authenticity, how they shared their voice and worked with what they enjoyed. Suddenly my marketing strategy was more focused.
- Use more video (because I liked it) and that’s how #readysteadygrow was born
- Share my story to becoming a coach
- Continue to be ‘myself’
- Update my photos (still to do this one!)
- Focus more on mums and their career choices
- Share more anecdotes
That’s me, but what about you?
How does a small business stand out from the crowd?
I facilitate a group of small business owners who are also mums called Mumentum. We are mostly local to each other and so once a month we have set up a business accountability group. One of the discussion topics for the coming months is this very topic. I have to say that talking with some of the members of the group it’s a tough one.
Anecdotally I hear that we start in business by (usually) deciding where our skills lie and how we’re going to use them. If we’re lucky we might find out that understanding what the customer wants is key to success. That’s where we stop…how do we attract clients, even if we know who they are?
Sure, your target audience is key, you need to truly understand them so that you can ‘talk’ directly to them in your marketing. Whether it’s showing them a solution to a problem that they didn’t know they had or speaking directly to their heart from yours you need to know who they are.
Once you know who they (your audience) are then you have to find them and that’s where understanding how you stand out from the crowd comes in.
5 questions to stand out from the competition
You need to build trust and let them find you. Here are 5 questions I have picked up through marketing experts like Nicole and Lenka Koppova (women I know personally and trust) as well as through my own experience:
- What are your values? What is important to you and how will that shape your business and your customer’s experience?
- How do you want to be perceived?
- What do you stand for?
- What do you do that others don’t?
- What best represents your business and expertise?
In addition, you need to work out what is stopping you standing out from the crowd. Lack of knowledge? Fear? No time? Then do something about it! It might be a case of getting informed or making a detailed action plan. You might schedule non-negotiable time into your diary. If your barriers are fear-based then I would encourage you to talk to a business group and/or coach to help you.