How To Stand Out In A Sea of Businesses

Do you ever feel like you know that many people live near your place of business, yet the foot traffic doesn’t seem like people even know that you exist?

This could be in a large city or small town. I was recently in the small town of Buena Vista and while putting together a postcard co-op mailer, I found a couple of businesses I didn’t know existed. I talked to several people that live there and they too said, “I didn’t even know we had a _____ in our town. I always go to Salida or the Front Range.”

Consumers have so many options to choose from, why should they choose you? Really!? Do you know why? You should know… Learn how to stand out in your neighborhood.

Big Box stores, online shopping delivered to their door, for smaller towns it could be shoppers that go to the “city” to shop where there are more options, etc.

I am a big promoter of Shop Local – Buy Local!

You may be asking right now as you read, yeah, so what can I do about that?

I’m glad you asked, as I have some answers or at least some suggestions.

There is more than a remnant of people who enjoy shopping local. We just need to reach them with our message and do something to help them to remember us when they have a need we can meet.

Shop Local written on a hang tag with twine to attach to article.
Let me start with a story…

Some years ago, I heard about a sales guy selling mobile advertising. He would tell the customer about his services, then place a small handful of beans on their desk or counter. Mixed in was one of those Mexican Jumping Beans. He would proceed to tell them with his advertising, they would stand out among the rest. He kept on presenting and the bean kept on jumping.

While the rest are doing business as usual, you must do something outrageous. Stand out among the crowd.

The easiest ‘stand out’ changes to start out with, if you’re not already doing these are

  1. great customer service and
  2. listening to your customer instead of just talking about your goods and services.

You may think this is Business 101 stuff, but many don’t do these simple tasks.

People want to be listened to. And when you do that, they will remember you. Engage with your customers. By asking a few quick questions, you may discover more than just the need they came to you with. Here’s an example:

Max goes to the doctor due to pain in his body. Here’s a possible scenario after the usual salutations:

Doc: “So, Max, tell me what’s going on.”

Max: “I have pain in my whole body which makes it tough to get through a full day at work.”

Doc: “Can you be more specific? Where does it hurt?”

Max: “Well my back hurts a lot…”

Doc: “What part of your back and at what point in the day does it start hurting?”

Max says, “I spend most of the day on my feet while working. Usually, by about 2 o’clock, I can hardly walk.”

Doc: “How about your feet and legs?”

Max tells him that his feet and legs also hurt.

At this point, a doctor might suggest some pain meds, or further exams, etc. But Max went to a good doctor who dug a little deeper. He asks Max about where he walks or stands, the environment, and then most importantly…

The doc inquires, “Max, what type of shoes do you wear at work?”

Max informs the doctor he has some old boots that are so comfortable he rarely wears anything else.

The doc explains to Max how good shoes with proper arch support may be the key to him feeling better. He also suggests using standing pads if Max stands for long periods on hard surfaces.

In this scenario, the good doctor was more interested in helping Max, than sending him for a bunch of tests or treatment, or worse, prescribing a pain medicine that would only cover up the pain temporarily.

Max may still need therapy or an adjustment, but the shoes will help in the long term.

The moral of the story is we can apply this same scenario to our business, no matter what goods or services we sell. I guarantee that! In fact, if you can’t figure out how in your business, then call me, and I will help you discover how to improve your interactions with your customers and the right questions to ask.

A Question mark done in white chalk in the middle of a blackboard. The question is, how to stand out?
A Questioning Strategy is Powerful!

I learned about the questioning strategy back in 2005 and have applied it to several businesses, and I even use it when I teach.

The right questions at the right time make you look like a hero. You need to give it some thought, but once you apply it, you will wonder why you didn’t learn this sooner.

Here is an example of when I am creating an ad for someone. This is already an ad that is sold, and I want to create the right message for that client. I use the questioning strategy in my sales presentation too, but it doesn’t stop there.

Depending on my knowledge of that business or industry, I may ask a few questions about the business.

I almost always ask, “What sets you apart from all the other _____s in your town?”

I get all kinds of responses to this. From funny to something specific, to “Oh all the _____s in town do the same thing. We do this, this, and that.”

I dig deeper, and of course the exact questions vary with the business I am serving.

I usually inquire about other advertising they do. A tagline or slogan they use. I may ask about the quality of products, what their service is like, and sometimes they are amazed at what they have to offer that really is different from their competitors.

Take a few moments to think about what questions you could ask. Get out a paper and pencil or pen and just write some ideas. You may not use them all, but you will have different questions for different scenarios.

Stepping back to when I am selling advertising, many times over the years I realized that what I have to offer wasn’t right for that customer. Maybe it was too high of a price for their budget, or the type of advertising wouldn’t have reached their ideal customer, etc.

I offer some suggestions of how they can advertise within their budget or how to target the right people, or how to create a contact list to communicate with their interested prospects and customers. No charge.

Once when I was selling advertising as an Independent Distributor of a national company, I earned an award for “Best Ad Copy”. I didn’t even know that award existed, ha! Many other distributors and other advertising salespeople will put a basic ad together as if it were a business card.

Speaking of business cards, if you have seen one of mine, you will notice that it is a type of ad as well. I use both sides of the card. Use different opportunities to keep your name and message in front of people.

I’m not telling you all this to brag, but to let you know that this stuff really works, so I can create better ads and marketing pieces by being inquisitive.

So back to our original question. How can YOU stand out amongst a sea of businesses? Think outside the box. Think outside your industry. Think outside the “norm”.

On the webpage you will find some suggestions, just be sure to scroll through the whole page.

Honestly, there are many other suggestions beyond what I offer, in the printing and marketing world, I have quite a bit to offer. You can also get a free, no-obligation Discovery Call with me, Jimmy, to figure out what might work best for you and your business.

So with that, I would challenge you to figure out how to stand out:
  • what you do differently from other _____s in your town
  • What questions you may ask at different stages of customer/client interaction
  • How and what can you do to STAND OUT like a jumping bean
  • And be sure to implement!

Look for another article soon on actual campaigns you could put in place to help you to stand out. I would love to hear any success stories of your implementation. Just visit the Contact Page to reach out.

Funny side story to the above Doctor Scenario.

I wrote the story almost a week before I went to the chiropractor myself. I did choose which chiropractor I went to ahead of time for my specific health challenges.

I did all the customary paperwork and such as a new client. I got in to see the doc and we had a very similar conversation to the above. He even asked about my shoes and the insoles since they are an orthopedic sneaker.

He made some recommendations and as I was doing my last review edit on this article, I had to laugh to myself the story I wrote out. I think I chose a good chiropractor.

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