Advertisement
how to be different

How to Be Different

jennifer cox

Jennifer Cox operated a family embroidery business beginning in 1990. She is one of the founders of the National Network of Embroidery Professionals (NNEP), a national organization that supports embroidery and apparel decoration professionals with programs and services designed to increase profitability and production. Cox is currently the president of NNEP.

Standing out from the crowd sounds like a simple thing. Just be different in some aspect. But how do you define 'different'?

Name one thing you claim to have that is different than what your competition can claim. Top quality? They claim that too. Great service? Ditto. On-time delivery? Check. Great staff? Yep, they have it. And that right there is the challenge your customers face. They perceive you and your competition as the same when you hold yourself up to the same measuring stick.

So, what can you do to make your business different?

First and foremost, you are your own greatest advantage. When your customer connects with you as a person, you have already elevated yourself above others with whom they didn't connect.

Second, when you bring your expertise into the conversation, you will have a higher ‘perceived value’ than your competition. You can do this by advising them on what sizes to order or offering to bag and label the goods to make it easier to distribute the order to their employees. The price will matter less when you add value, service, and expertise before, during, and after the sale.

Third, a key differentiator is your creativity. Your willingness to understand their ‘why’ is a far cry above the next person who comes along and says, “Buy my shirts…” Understanding the why allows you to brainstorm with them or for them to provide the best possible product suggestions to address their need directly. If you can create original graphics or outsource designs, that is another way to bring your creativity into the equation. For example, play with colors to show the customer ways to think about using their logo or graphic in a new way.

If you are feeling bold, ask your customers when they pick up their orders from you why they ordered from you. Video record their answers, with their permission. Use these videos and quotes as part of your story.

Knowing you are different is not going to make you stand out. Being different comes from the perception of your customers. Their perception is the only one that matters!

Being different can start with everyday stuff, like:

  • Phone calls: Are your incoming calls answered by a happy person? Does that person always know that they are the first impression for your company and work at making it a great one? Does your system route the caller to a real human first or into an automated menu?
  • Voicemail: Do you have a generic, snooze-worthy message, or something more exciting? Create something that will be memorable by default.
  • Snacks: Make good coffee and offer fun sweets. Serve the best, not the cheapest. It is noticed!
  • Emails: Add a tip of the month or week to the bottom of your emails. It can be something about garment care instructions, a fun factoid about something local, or an invitation to send you a photo of them wearing your goods to share on your website or social channels.
  • Website: Is your website homepage all about you or all about how you help your customers? Something is compelling about videos, photos, and quotes from satisfied customers singing your praises.