13 Tips to differentiate yourself from the competition
As freelancers or entrepreneurs marketing your services, increasing brand visibility and differentiating yourself from the competition can determine whether or not you land that next project. Prospective clients are consistently looking for reasons to choose us over our competition, so here are 13 ways you can stand out from the crowd and increase your chances of getting chosen in any industry.
1. Specialization. Nothing makes you stand out more than specializing in a particular industry or project type. Whether it’s Financial services, Alternative Health, or the Nonprofit sector, make sure you’re letting clients know your specialty. It may seem counterintuitive, or limiting, but having a niche separates you as an expert and you’ll be more memorable, making it easier for people to refer business.
2. Expertise. If you have specific experience or training in a particular niche, be sure to say so. Maybe you’re an expert or you have specialized training in writing technical manuals, creating promotional videos, or perhaps your niche in event planning is gay weddings. Whatever detail large or small that helps you stand out to clients who need help with that type of project, be sure to include it. Mentioning this small distinction could be what gets you chosen over someone equally as qualified.
3. Specialize by audience or target market. Do you have a special affinity for photography or cameras? If you understand the needs of photographers and their equipment, you could be the copywriter or consultant of choice for businesses selling cameras or photography gear, as well as others who rely on similar professions, like e commerce, retailers, or home security agencies.
4. Become Certified or Licensed. Certifications and Licenses prove that you’ve mastered the skills needed to successfully fill a need within a set of standards, guidelines, or expectations. This is definitely an easy way to stand out from those who don’t have a recognized and credible distinction. Bonus tip: make sure you display a badge icon, ID number, or other identifier prominently on your website, business card, resume, and/or blog. Even if potential clients aren't familiar with the distinction, it's noticeable and easy to look up.
5. Showcase your expertise on social media. Building a reputation online for being a subject matter expert will undoubtedly set you apart. Holding live workshops, webinars, how-to videos, or product reviews are fantastic strategies to showcase your expertise and generate leads. Youtube is the second largest search engine, so creating a channel to engage your audience will not only grow it, but make you easier to find. Most potential clients will google your name and business and a strong online presence will add credibility to your brand.
6. Customer Service. You will certainly stand out if you have actual phone conversations with prospective clients or someone who’s expressed interest. Follow up email and chat inquiries with a call to see if they had any questions or to clarify how you can help. In a time where most businesses are streamlining or automating their customer service, receiving a live call will speak volumes about how you treat clients.
7. Follow up with a thank you card. A physical “thank you” card or “nice to meet you” card in the mail can solidify your position as someone who cares. We all love getting something in the mail, so leveraging this emotional response will definitely create a memorable impact.
8. Ask for testimonials and reviews. Actively ask for testimonials and reviews AND publish them on your website, in social media posts, and even in emails. People trust what a third party says about you more than they trust what you say about yourself. Since third-party validation is powerful in building your credibility, stand out by letting prospective clients know what others say about you.
9. Leverage email marketing. According to Hubspot, email marketing produces around a 3800% Return on Investment, generating somewhere between $38 to $42 per $1 spent. Build your email list with offers and send emails on a semi-regular basis. Contrary to popular belief, email marketing is here to stay and is still a powerful lead generator.
10. Be authentic. Be you, not the person you think clients want you to be. Let your personality show through your work and don’t portray yourself as someone else. Highlight what makes you unique and your authenticity will not only stand out, but you’ll also attract similar-minded followers, referral partners, and clients.
11. Add a professional headshot. People like to know and see who they’re interacting with, which is particularly true in the digital age. To that end, don’t hide behind your keyboard. Instead let people see what you look like by adding a professional headshot to your email signature. Your picture helps them feel like they know you a little better and helps you stand out.
12. Be a stickler for spelling & grammar. Professional writers, digital marketers, and content creators are held to a higher standard when it comes to spelling and word use. You’ll want to stand out by NOT standing out. Cross your T's and dot your I's by proofreading. After you're sure it looks good, have someone else read it. Then proofread it again. Downloading online writing tools like Grammarly is another way to avoid spelling and grammar errors.
13. Write an ebook. Writing your own book is hands down the best way to stand out, especially if you're a writer. Sticking to your expertise will make it easier to write, and you’ll have content you can use to grow your email list, drive traffic to your site, or offer as a free downloads to add value to a sale or offer.
There you have it. 13 surefire ways to increase your brands visibility and differentiate yourself from the competition. If you have some ideas of your own on how to set yourself apart, share your thoughts in the comments below.