Oftentimes, when we think about businesses that are unique and stand out, we tend to immediately bring to mind innovative startups such as Tesla or Amazon. But the truth is, every business has the ability to stand out. Not only that, but every business should stand out from its competitors. To shed some light on how to do just that, read on for my 5 ways to stand out as a service-based business.
The service industry is booming. Many small businesses are now in the space of “knowledge brokers”. These tend to be based on personal experience, such as people who lost weight teaching others how to do the same. Or a mother who helped her child overcome allergies or intolerances now sharing that information with others. Most business coaches teach things they, too, have accomplished. As do many life coaches.
But it doesn’t stop there, many talented individuals have created their own businesses around their talents. Photographers and videographers, artists and musicians, teachers and motivational speakers – to name a few.
Regardless of which industry you’re in, there are likely many similar businesses. And so, to carve out your own space with your own target audience and elevate yourself from the competition, you need to find ways to be unique. Below are 5 ways to stand out as a service-based business. You don’t need to do all of them – just pick one or two that resonate and put your effort and energy behind them.
Standing Out Tip #1: Target an under-served audience
A great way to stand out in your industry is to target an audience that others are not serving. If you know of hairstylists who specialize in curly hair, or life coaches who specialize in building confidence in women, then you’ve seen examples of this.
But to really push yourself to explore this option, consider your regular audience, and then brainstorm as many other groups of people who could use your services but are very different from your regular audience.
Here’s an example: I help entrepreneurs and small business owners build, develop and scale their businesses. If I went through this exercise, I might go down the path of identifying children as a target audience, because they’re great learners, very creative and might one day want to start their own business. Using that train of thought, I’d probably end up with the idea of an entrepreneur school for children.
Standing Out Tip #2: Create a unique and delightful customer experience – before, during and after your service
Quite often, we consider the customer experience starting from parts of the customer journey that are within our ecosystem. But really, that’s limiting your potential for making an impact on a potential customer. And more than that, it’s limiting your potential for making a huge impact on a potential customer because you likely will be the only business engaging with them at that point in their journey.
So I encourage you to consider your customer or potential customer’s entire journey, starting much earlier than their engagement with your brand or business. At these early points, is there anything you can do to position yourself as a leader in your industry?
Also look at the other end – after your service and engagement has concluded. Some service-based businesses have already started looking at post-service experiences, such as sending flowers, chocolates or a gift after the service, or even following up a month or 6 months after coaching, for example.
The powerful thing that comes out of these suggestions is not only that your customer might choose to purchase another service from you, but, probably more importantly, that they would recommend you to their friends because you’d be top of mind and would have delighted them with your extra service.
Standing Out Tip #3: Talk about your values and your beliefs
A great way to connect with customers and potential customers is to have shared value and beliefs. Often, we hesitate to share too much, but there are bonds that can be formed almost immediately between people who share similar values.
I have recently come across many service-based businesses who speak openly about their religious associations and views. This may be a taboo topic, but it works well for attracting like-minded people into your world. Someone who shares the same values or beliefs would very likely be more drawn to working with you versus someone else because they would feel bonded or connected with you over that value or belief.
If you’re not comfortable getting too personal in your business, a great way around this is to find a value or belief around your business and anchor to that. For example, I am a business coach who specializes in strategy. I talk about strategy all the time, and I showcase the value and importance of it throughout my content. I offer a completely different service to another business coach who might be more focused on marketing, for example, or sales, or “quick wins” instead of strategy.
Standing Out Tip #4: Create powerful alignment between your brand visuals and the feeling you want to invoke in your clients
Something I love doing is ensuring my clients have visuals that match the feeling they want to invoke in their clients. Brand strategy is all about invoking specific feelings in customers. And so you want your branding, and particularly your visuals to invoke those feelings within your customers.
If you were to go to the websites of social media accounts of some of your favorite brands, you’d find that just by looking at their content and their designs, you would feel certain emotions: calm, excited, happy, relaxed, inspired, motivated, pumped, energized.
Try this exercise: go to the social media accounts of some small and corporate businesses. Write down the feelings invoked in you. Ask someone else to do the same, and see if they match. A good brand strategy and well-design visuals should result in the both of you having similar (if not the same) feelings written down. Now do this with your social media account or website. What feelings do you want to invoke? What feelings are currently invoked? If needed, how can you change that?
Standing Out Tip #5: Niche down
We all know we need to niche down, but how far can you go? I remember when I chose my makeup artist for our wedding, she asked me how I found her and why I chose her. My answer: I wanted smokey eyes and she was the most talented from what I had seen. Her response? That was her speciality. She was focused on creating smokey eye looks, and had spotted that opportunity because no one else in Italy was particularly great at it. She has since also added to her niche with being an eyeliner queen, but the point is that she is known for specific things within her industry. It’s not just make-up, it’s also not just being a wedding and fashion make-up artist. She was known for something even deeper than that. Similarly, my friend picked her make-up artist because she did the best “natural” looks. What can I say? We’re clearly opposites.
The same applies with art, photography, videography, coaching, teaching… there has to be something within your industry that you niche down to so that you become known for that specific thing.
How to Stand Out
Like I said earlier, you absolutely don’t need to do all these at once. Choose something you feel comfortable with and try it out for a few weeks. See if you get more service inquiries, more engagement, and more sales. If it works, stick with it. If it doesn’t, try another suggestion. Remember, there is no failure, only lessons.
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