To Thine Own Business Be Authentic / Strategy / Last Modified: March 14, 2018
Image credit: mavo/Shutterstock

In today's competitive market, starting a business is hard enough, let alone growing it. Here are three tips to building an authentic brand that supports business growth.

Today we have more brands, products, and services than ever. And that is fantastic from the viewpoint of consumers. However, from a company's perspective, it is a nightmare, because there are more competitors than ever. This situation leads to the question, "How can I make my business stand out?"

When almost every business has a website, promotions, and social media profiles, it's hard to differentiate your brand in new and unique ways. Differentiating your business is critical to your company's success, but few do it.

To stand out from the crowd, you need to be authentic. What does that mean? It entails offering consumers a unique value proposition, recognizable branding and an exceptional customer experience. It's not about having an awesome website, an original logo or millions of dollars to invest in advertising. Those factors help, but they will not ensure the long-term profitability of your company. You also need to provide an outstanding customer experience where your clientele receives something (a product, a service or customer service) that they do not get anywhere else.

Below are three tips to help you find your niche and earn the respect and loyalty of your customers. 

1. Focus on your strengths.

Everyone has weaknesses – even huge brands with millions of dollars of revenue. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What problems are you solving for your customers that your competitors aren't?
  • How are you innovating?
  • Why is your customer experience outstanding? 

You need to focus on your strengths and build on them to grow your business. Improving your weaknesses is important, but it takes effort and time. In order to build on your strengths, set clear SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely) and prioritize them.

2. Don't copy others.

Nowadays it seems that almost every industry is saturated. Not differentiating yourself from the competition is a recipe for disaster. When you are struggling to define what makes you unique, the best place to start is by asking yourself the following questions:

  • What is the purpose of your business?
  • What makes you different, unique or special?
  • What sets your business apart from the competition? 

Don't look at what everyone else in your industry is doing. If you think your business can grow following exactly the same steps as your most successful competitor, you are wrong. Instead, for inspiration, look outside your industry and incorporate what you have learned. 

3. Define a realistic ideal client profile.

You have the perfect service or product for someone. Who is that someone? Your clients have similar problems, questions or challenges and make decisions in a similar way. 

Defining your "ideal client profile" or "ideal customer persona" can help you to understand who's likely to buy from you, what your ideal client buying process looks like, how you can generate more (and better) leads for your business, and even how to build customer loyalty. 

When defining your ideal customer profile, don't rely on your team or your intuition. While you should talk with your team and gather information, keep in mind that people can become biased over time. Creating a profile for your ideal customer should involve creating a "verifiable" profile. For that, you need to use reliable key performance indicators and ensure that all of the information you have gathered is trustworthy.

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