Let’s face it, it’s a pretty overcrowded space out there on the interwebs (and getting more crowded by the minute). So if you want to have ANY chance of standing out from the crowd, you have to be doing something different, right?

But what if you’re selling stuff that everyone else is selling?

{Guest Post by Julie Gibbons of tractorGirl}

It seems business coaches are a dime-a-dozen these days, and everyone’s making kids’ clothes.

So, What makes YOUR stuff special?

It’s tempting to compete on price because that’s so damned easy to do, but in reality that’s a short road to nowhere – you end up cutting yourself down so much you’re not making any profit, and you work harder and harder for less and less. More importantly for your business, you end up attracting customers who are only there because of price – and as soon as they find someone cheaper, they’ll scram. You don’t want that do you?

You want to build up strong, loyal customers, that spread the word far and wide about how fabulous your work is! You Want to Stand Out.

point of difference

So what you need to find out is what your competition is NOT doing, and then do that.

Here’s five ways figure it out.

1. What’s your customer’s REAL problem?

The first thing to what you want to do is to get inside your potential customer’s head, and understand exactly what their problem is. You need to be a bit creative about this and think past short statements like “They need a new dress for their 5 y-o daughter.” That’s fine as a starting point, but what other problems are attached to that thought? Maybe they need clothes that are in non-allergenic fibres, or eco-friendliness is important to them, or they need clothes that are extra-sturdy because their kids are extra rough and tumble. Or if you’re a business coach – what’s your best skill, and what pain point are you great at identifying super-quickly?

2. How does your experience or expertise relate to your customer’s problem?

If you’ve been through exactly the same issues that your customer is experiencing right now? BAM! Instant connection! So be specific when you’re talking about yourself and your experience – people relate to other people’s stories, first and foremost! Also on the experience side of things, are there uncommon (but still relevant) situations that you’ve had experience with, that prove your ability to problem-solve?

3. How interesting/useful/solid is your solution?

Good quality and customer service by themselves are not enough these days. There is so much competition around that these are expected as a baseline by your customers. You need to go much further when offering your solution. For instance, do you use exceptional materials in your work, or an uncommon technique (hi-tech and slick, or old-fashioned and beautiful)? Is it environmentally friendly? Do you have a great step-by-step process, or a great analytic tool that you can use to solve your customer’s problem faster? Or perhaps you’re committed to the long-term, because that’s how you can really dig down to get to very heart of their problems?

4. What are they afraid of, and how can you reassure them?

This is about addressing the specific worries they have that are stopping them purchasing from you! So, do you have some great testimonials from previous clients that state how well you solved their problems? Can you value-add with video tutorials or instructions on how to get the best out of your product, or tips for looking after it?(And hey, if you do this you’ll end up with more very satisfied customers – and these are the ones who’ll spread the word!) Lastly, do you have a guarantee? People are much more inclined to buy if they are guaranteed a solution or their money back.

5. How personalised is your service?

Of course, if you’re a solopreneur, this should be a no-brainer. Maybe… is it?

Ask yourself, how well do you take the time to get to know your client?

Your customer’s experience of you is a point of difference – people LOVE it when you remember their name, their needs, their preferences. So focus on every aspect of contact with each and every customer, and always think about it from their point of view. What do they need? How can you solve their problem? What’s their most pressing fear about your product? And always treat them with honesty and respect. There are other questions to ask yourself too.

How quickly do you respond to their queries?
Do you do one-on-one services or bespoke orders?
Do you send a personal note with every purchase?
Do you ask for feedback?

This last question is a bit of a ripper.

If you ask for simple feedback (a quick email with them, or a VERY short survey on SurveyMonkey for instance (don’t make them work too hard or they won’t do it)), the feedback that you get from existing customers is great for guiding you on how you can help future customers better.

What aspects do your customers focus on? That’s what you should focus on too!

You can ask them questions like what made them come to you in the first place; what’s the one thing they think you do best; what’s one thing you do that the other suppliers don’t. And the more answers you get, the more you’ll be able to spot the trends in what you’re good at (and what you’re lacking).

One last word. (OK, a few.)

As I said at the beginning, the key to finding your Point of Difference is to look closely at the needs and frustrations of your customers, then look closely at what your competitors aren’t doing to solve those problems, and then do that.

And once you’ve discovered your point of difference, don’t ever think that your work is done. Your business is as dynamic as your life; things ebb and flow and change, so make sure you review and reassess your point of difference on a regular basis – like every time you review your business plan. (You do have one of those, don’t you!? Of course you do!


Julie Gibbons aka tractorgirl is a visual ninja and brand coach who loves helping others make the world a more beautiful place. She drinks way too many cups of tea and spends her spare time figuring out new ways of not killing succulents.