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Is Your Business Competitive and Unique?

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Here's a good post from Seth Godin's blog and some highlighted excerpts:

In search of competition

The only way to enjoy competition is to have something different, or better, or something that scales. You need to offer a community that increases in value as it scales, or a unique perspective or technology.

Do you do better when you're the only choice, with all the power that this brings, or when there are many choices, with all the audience and excitement that this brings?

You can pretend that you are unique, that you have no competition and never will. Inevitably, this will create an attitude that, while fun for a while, will probably harm you later. The alternative is to acknowledge that the competition exists and in fact, to encourage it.

I think every business likes to think they're unique and are the best choice out there. Or they think that there is no competition. That thinking is egotistical but also very natural. In reality and from your customer's point of view, they may not see your business as all that unique from all the others. If this disconnect exists, then that means your marketing and/or positioning are not on target.

To get your customers to see that your business is unique and better for them, you need to repeatedly explain it to them. It needs to be said concisely and in different ways. This isn't easy to do but here are a few ways:

  • Testimonials work like magic. They do. For most businesses, it's best to have an arsenal of testimonials to use in your marketing - including your website. They work well because they are not your words and it's a recommendation from a third party. Use them but be careful. They must be believable, they need to contain the customer's full name and location and including photos also help establish credibility.
  • Use pictures or images to explain why you are different. People learn and perceive things in different ways. Some people need to see it, some need to be told it, some need to know everything, some people just need the gist of it. So using pictures not only sums up what you're trying to say in a nice, concise way but it can also make more sense to someone who needs to see things to understand them.
  • Have a "Frequently Asked Questions" page. FAQ pages help remove doubt. They contain questions that people may have and the great thing is, they also have the answers! Be careful not to ask and answer all questions here - you should still give people a reason to contact you for more information because then you can make the sale in a more personal way.
  • Have a tag line that explains what you do and how you help. Include the the fact and benefit approach if you can (for all you Dale Carnegie sales course people). Honestly, coming up with a good tag line is hard work. The lazy people use the standard formula of "For all your _____ needs." which is really, really weak and I'll mention again - lazy. You don't stand out using that same old line, sorry.

    The Webstix tag line is "Look Good." It's very versatile and says a lot. People want a website that looks good, that makes them look good, that generates sales or leads that look good, etc. etc.

Our uniqueness is primarily our design capability. We run the MadisonClick.com website and on it is a page with over 100 website designers in the Madison, WI area. Now, we could just list ourselves there and pretend that none others exist but that would be silly. We know we have the best website design in the area, so we don't mind if people check out the competition. We know our work will shine. Our website makes use of real testimonials from our clients. We could probably do more and I know we will.

Here are some things to think about as we enter 2009:

  • Does your business website look different from your competition?
  • Will people remember your website and bookmark it - or better yet, call or email you?
  • Does your website rank well when people search for your products or services?
  • Are you making good use of the testimonials you have? Do you have have any testimonials to use?
  • Is your website up to date with the latest information?
  • Does your website explain how you are different and better than your competition?
  • Can you eliminate your competition by having a better value for a better price?

There's no doubt times are tough right now. The strong will survive. Make sure you're strong. Now is not the time to hold back on marketing and do it later. There may not be a later. Car companies that are in trouble are advertising more and more. To get more business, you can't advertise less. Your company website is the best way to support other marketing that you're doing. It's where people research your company. Make sure you look good!

Happy New Year!
-Tony

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