You’re proud of your business, and you know you and your team do great work. Sometimes, though, you can’t help feeling a little lost in the crowd amid all the competition. Delivering a quality product or service is only the first step to making your business stand out. Try some of these ideas to differentiate yourself from competitors and attract more customers.

Know Your Customers, Know Yourself

Before you develop some new strategies to help your business stand out, you have to get clear on a couple of key things. First, you must know your customers. This helps you make sure you’re standing out in the right areas.

For example, if your local economy is thriving, people looking to join a gym are likely focused on factors other than cost when they’re deciding between your gym and a competitor. In that case, standing out because you have the lowest membership fees isn’t really benefiting your business. Customers might pay more attention if you take a different approach, like offering unique amenities.

Just as you have to understand your customers and their desires, you also have to understand your business and your distinctive strengths. Even if you offer the same product or service as other businesses, there’s something special about you. The key is to identify it and use it to set yourself apart.

Let’s say you’re one of several Mexican restaurants in your town. Maybe you stand out from the pack because you have the longest history in the area. Or maybe you’re the best equipped to handle large groups. If you’ve never created your unique selling proposition (USP), this is a great exercise to help you understand what you really have to offer and how to use it to draw customers.

A fringe benefit of getting clear on your USP is that it can help your employees feel part of something bigger than themselves. A restaurant’s wait staff, for example, could get an extra dose of pride and motivation when they see that they are part of community institution with a long history of great service.

Compete With Convenience

If you’re drawing a blank on what makes you stand out from similar businesses, you may want to implement some changes that set you apart.

With everyone seemingly busier than ever, convenience can be an important differentiator for businesses. Let’s take the example of a small gym that’s having trouble holding its own against larger competitors. The manager researches the market and realizes that while the area has lots of shift workers and students who have unconventional schedules, no local gyms have extended hours. She expands her gym’s hours to attract this segment of underserved customers.

If you’re eyeing a change like this for your own business, employee scheduling software like Planday will make things a lot easier for you as a manager and increase the odds that your employees will embrace the change.

Fine-Tune Your Image

Now it’s time to put what you’ve learned about your customers and yourself into action. According to the blog Marketing Donut, a good way to stand out is to make sure your image aligns with your USP and with what your customers want and expect.

Take a look around your business. Maybe your gym offers trendy new classes, but the stuck-in-the’90s décor sends a different message. Or perhaps your restaurant feels more like a place young singles would hang out vs. the families you want to attract.

Your image isn’t just determined by the physical premises of your business. What messages do your website, your social media channels and your advertising send about your business? Consider both what they say and how they look. Do they reflect your USP? Do they speak to what your customers want? Do they feel fresh and current? If your website and other marketing materials look out of date, customers could infer that you’re not as competent as competitors with a more contemporary image.

Stand Out By Doing Good

More and more customers want to buy from businesses that care about making the world a better place, according to Entrepreneur. Just look at the success of socially minded companies like TOMS Shoes and Warby Parker eyewear.

Think about how your business can get more involved in the community or in causes that you and your customers care about. As you do good for others, you’re also enhancing customers’ perceptions of your business. This is especially true if the good work you’re doing is tied to the mission of your business. A restaurant, for example, could get involved with a local food drive.

This is also another area where becoming more competitive goes hand in hand with increasing employee engagement. Just as people want to buy from socially conscious businesses, they also want to work for them, especially Millennials.

Kyra Kuik
Kyra Kuik Head of Content
Kyra is Planday's Head of Content. When she's not busy spinning up blog posts or editing, you can find her with a big cup of coffee, running, or admiring the charming pups of Copenhagen.