There are over 28 million small businesses in America, but surprise, surprise, there are not over 28 million unique products. Instead, there are 28 million small businesses competing in just a few hundred markets.
I’m not trying to depress you, but merely to point out that whatever you plan on doing for your small business, someone else is probably doing the same thing. Does this mean you should just pack it up, go home, and hide under the covers? Not even close.
It’s not enough to make a great product anymore. What differentiates one quality-made product from another is unique product marketing and sales pitches. In this saturated market, you also have to create a corresponding marketing campaign that calls attention to what makes you unique and speaks to your target audience.
Differentiating your business can mean seeking out non-traditional buyers, thinking of new ways to sell old products, or coming up with product names that shock and amaze.
1. It’s all about unique product marketing
How you sell your product is as equally important as the product itself. The ‘food’ at Burger King is painfully similar to that of McDonald’s, but when Burger King said ‘Have It Your Way,’ they suddenly became different.
Successful business owners bring their product to the market in a vastly different ways. If you make a quality product, but have a great deal of local and national competition, it becomes incredibly important to market your product in a way that will help you stand out from the crowd.
Maybe you differentiate your business by focusing on speed of shipping, personalized customer service, or an interesting take on common things. Whatever it is, make that the focus of how you present your products as well. Communicating the extra value you bring to customers, in addition to your great products, is what will help you stand out from your competitors.
2. Create new and interesting product pairings
Package deals appeal to the bargain-hunter lurking inside of every seemingly normal shopper. What’s so great about a package that includes two shirts, a bracelet, and a press-on tattoo? Nothing, except that it will sell out in a week. Package deals lend an air of novelty to your products, and help you group lesser-selling items with the ones everyone wants.
But don’t be boring about it. Think of funky new deals to put together, like grouping a pair of sunglasses, sandals, and a waterproof iPhone case to make your ‘Summer Survival Kit.’ Or if you’re a bakery, sell a “The Greatest Calories I Have Ever Consumed” package, including a pastry, a cake pop, and a bottle of milk to wash it all down. Make it fun and encourage undecided customers to consider them at your store. Quirkiness helps you stand out in the consumer’s mind, and encourages return visits.
3. Seek out new types of buyers
This is about precisely defining your target customer, and then brainstorming the many ways you can reach them. Just because you only make women’s shirts, doesn’t mean there aren’t 101 ways to sell them. Devise a way to speak to male clientele and offer specialized gift recommendations for them. Or identify events in your city where there will be a high concentration of potential female customers, and figure out if you can partner or support the event in some way.
Partnering with complementary local businesses will also help you get in front of potential new buyers. If you sell men’s clothing, then it might make sense to partner with a local cigar store for a weekend event. Being flexible and creative will help you to get out of the stale sales model, help to reinvigorate your business, and get you in front of potential new buyers.
Bonus tip: Make friends with the owners of locally owned bars or restaurants nearby, and see if you can work out a partnership where one day a week a customer can take their receipt from a purchase made at your store, and use it to get a certain percentage off of their bill at the bar! We use this little tactic when holding our monthly cash mobs at local businesses, and it works wonders. I mean, who doesn’t like happy hour? Only people who hate fun.