When it comes to true competitors most small businesses don’t really have any. I suspect you don’t spend much time hanging around waiting for your prospects to compare bids. (If you do, that’s another issue.)

Here’s my belief. I don’t think that any two businesses, regardless of the products or services they offer, are the same. In that regard no one can offer what you offer, not exactly. No one can compete with what you do, not exactly.

So, here’s the real problem. Your prospects don’t know what you have to offer that is unique so they perceive that your business is pretty much like everyone else that says they do what you do. And that’s your real competitor.

One of the most critical marketing chores your small business has is to find something that makes you unique, something that a market values, something that no one else offers and make it your defining marketing element.

Think – package a service, focus on a niche, promote in an attention getting manner, free shipping, unique pricing model, attention to an important detail.

Make your unique point of difference small and simple. Don’t try to accomplish something so grand that you must spend great amounts of time explaining why it’s a benefit

You are simply trying to find, manage and communicate perception. I have found that the best way to discover what makes you unique is to ask your existing clients. You may be amazed to discover their perception of what you have to offer of value is slightly different from what you think it is.

Quite often, your clients will value the little things. That’s where you need to focus your marketing attention – it’s the little things that allow you to manage your firm’s perception.

Do that and you will never have competition.

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John Jantsch

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing, Duct Tape Selling, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.
  • Another gotcha is “saying no for the prospect” “Oh no, they’d never be interested in my service or product!” or, “they can’t afford that!”

  • John, great post. I’d like to link to you in a future post, if I may.

    And to relate to my dealings with clients – it’s amazing how many business owners think that they have to ‘reinvent the wheel’ in their marketing plans, when really all it takes is a slight change to really set them apart.

    Something as simple as a restaurant offering free desserts to their customers can go a long way.

  • Great thought provoking post John. Thanks. I have emailed the article to several clients to seek their feedback on my ‘uniqueness’

  • This certainly hits home – as I’m sure most everyone that could apply it to their own business.

    I sell ad space for the Child Day Care Directory (http://www.childdaycaredirectory.com), a free high-quality publication that helps (you guessed it) parents find day care. There’s nothing else out there like it in Omaha, and the “parent” consumer market that will be using it is very specific.

    Thanks for reiterating how I feel about our product!

  • The simpler your defining marketing element the better. It can be a one-word adjective, like, “Budget Rent-a-car”.