How to Stand Out From the Competition
Standing out as a unique brand is all about how you "dress it up"
Ok, so I bought this dress at H&M, and they had a million of them. So, what makes me different than the next woman who buys it, and puts it on? Well, for starters, I paired it with a BCBG confetti bag and some Versace shades, which gave me a completely different look and feel. The same thing happens with business. There are no original ideas unless you are creating an entirely new market segment and even still someone has created some iteration of what you want to build. It's about how you “dress it up” that makes your idea unique. What makes my company, 7AM, different from Oprah.com? Both companies deal with purpose-driven content, but I have a different target customer. Oprah.com will go after people who are older — Gen X and baby boomers — additionally, my content is more conservative. I offer courses. Additionally, 7AM caters to a younger demographic and provides content with an edge. It doesn’t make either right or wrong, it just makes them different. When starting a company, figure out how to differentiate yourself from the competition. If there are already five pillow companies that do custom embroidery, the world probably doesn’t need another pillow company selling custom embroidered pillows. However, the world may want a pillow company that focuses on pillows showcasing 3D pop-up designs. What is your unique value proposition and competitive advantage?
Once that question is out of the way, how do you know customers even want your new, edgy product? First, you want to create a hypothesis, and based on your hypothesis, you are making the assumption that they do. Next, you want to find your target customer—your community or tribe that absolutely cannot live without your idea. When I say find them, I mean you literally need to research them. Go out and ask questions to make sure that you are on the right track with your product, before you build anything. You, in essence, are using them to validate your assumption. Once you have your customers’ feedback, start building your concept around it. The big moment comes when you release it. If consumers are excited about it, using it, and paying for it, you have struck gold. This is called finding the product-market fit. This usually takes a bit of time, so don’t fret if things don’t take off right away. However, if you find that they are not biting, you need to either regroup and iterate or change the idea slightly based on the new feedback, or pivot and try something else. To recap, you will always find that there are competitors in the market, and if you don’t—BE AFRAID. BE VERY, VERY AFRAID, unless you are first to market. That's a whole other conversation for a different day. Especially when it comes to consumer products, there should be some competition, even if it's indirect. Once you understand your competitive landscape, figure out what you are doing to differentiate yourself, and run with it—1000%.