Small Business Brief


Win Their Business: How to Be Unique in a Crowded Market

It used to be that companies only had to worry about standing out in their local market. So it was enough to be the best music store in Helena, MT or a top-notch natural foods purveyor in Ithaca, NY. Nowadays? The ubiquity of online retailers — from juggernaut seller Amazon on down to anyone with a WordPress site — has made standing out in a crowd very difficult indeed.

Want to know how to be unique as a business? Read on for a few tried and true tips.

1. Provide Unparalleled Customer Service

How can you tell what good customer service is? Ask yourself how you would want to be treated as a customer. It’s pretty simple, really. A few perks that can go a long way toward securing repeat business and word-of-mouth buzz include:

  • Free shipping and free returns
  • Guaranteed satisfaction 
  • Guaranteed response time
  • Personalized interactions
  • Generous free gifts 
  • No-hassle return policy

Fully 89% of customers say they’ve switched from one company to a competitor because of a bad CS experience. That means providing decent customer service is pretty much the bare minimum in today’s business world. To truly stand out, you have to exceed expectations and look for any opportunity to go above and beyond. 

2. Do Whatever It Takes to Fix a Mistake

No company can get ahead by playing the blame game. That’s because customers really don’t care if the UPS guy was late or the supplier came down sick. So if something is wrong, make it right.

Granted, it can be an expensive proposition to re-send late orders via priority or overnight shipping, or allocating extra employee-hours to remedy a problem. But successful enterprises don’t nickel and dime. They authorize these types of expenditures because they know they’ll recoup the costs in customer loyalty.

3. Cultivate a Sense of Social Responsibility

More and more, customers want companies to do the right thing when it comes to the environment, the community, disenfranchised peoples, ethical labor practices, and philanthropy.

You don’t have to give a pair of socks to the homeless shelter for every pair sold, but if you champion a cause, let your customers know. If you don’t champion a cause, find one and get on board.

For startup companies and for customers alike, the concept of putting your money where your mouth is has never been more relevant than right now. 

How To Be Unique: A Few Final Thoughts

It’s difficult to advise companies on how to be unique. After all, so much depends on the business’s industry, size, location, mission, and temperament. The traits that set you apart from your competitors are best arrived at organically, as well. 

What we can tell you is that being vulnerable, daring to try new methods, and learning how to “fail up,” will likely serve your company well. So find your unique path and follow it!

Want to connect with other small business owners? Head over to our forum and join the discussion!