Small businesses may seem at a disadvantage when it comes to competing against larger companies with more brand recognition. After all, many small businesses are in markets and industries crowded with competition.
How do small businesses stand out in a crowded field to win over customers? We asked business owners how they differentiate from competitors. Here’s how they responded:
Offering all-inclusive service
I am owner of a dog grooming business, and I’ve marketed myself quite uniquely
compared to my neighboring competitors. Most salons focus on making the dog cute and clean and offering a slew of different upgrades and packages to make it more “spa-like.” I, on the other hand, don’t offer packages and instead provide one all-inclusive grooming package that covers all of a dog’s grooming needs including many of the a la carte services. I also educate my clients on grooming, health and behavior training, even sending them home with exercises they can do with their dogs. All of this allows me to price my services significantly higher than all my neighboring competition.
—Christina Ashley, founder, The Pawsmetologist, Teaneck, New Jersey
As a builder of accessory dwelling units (“granny flats”), we’re special in that we offer a high degree of transparency in an industry that is notorious for making it difficult to get straight numbers on cost and process. We publish our unit pricing for standard plans online, as well as the additional costs that homeowners should budget for.
—Whitney Hill, co-founder and CEO, SnapADU, Oceanside, California
Offering customer service by phone
As owner of a home products online store, I have to be creative when differentiating myself from the much-larger home products retailers. A big part of what I try to do is emphasize customer service by having a real person available to answer customer calls. Since my store sells relatively expensive products, customers often have questions before they are comfortable making a purchase. So I try to make sure to prominently feature my store phone number in all paid advertising to emphasize this benefit that I offer customers—one that many larger e-commerce companies do not.
—Lou Haverty, founder, Enhanced Leisure, Philadelphia
Charging a fixed rate for typically hourly services
One thing that differentiates me from other branding and design agencies is that I charge a fixed rate for my services and work with each client until they’re happy—without charging extra for revisions. This way, they’re not pressured into making a decision, and they don’t have to worry that they’ll continuously be billed if they’re not happy with the brand name or logo design I create.
—Tatiana Dumitru, founder, PreTee Creative, Anaheim, California
Simplifying the supply chain
Traditionally, a handmade rug would start with the craftsman, travel through a wholesale channel, reach the retail stores, and then enter a customer’s home. As an online rug seller, our process is much simpler and, in turn, more affordable for our customers. Our rugs go from the craftsman directly to the consumer. It has differentiated us from our competitors substantially and we’ve eliminated steep markups and costs that don’t add customer value.
—Ben Hyman, co-founder and CEO, Revival Rugs, Oakland, California
Beating the competition on price
My company sells online breastfeeding and pumping classes. I started my business back in 2017 and stood out because I priced my classes very reasonably. At the time, the other class options were $100 and up. I priced my classes at $19 so that every pregnant and new mom could afford them. Because of the affordability, I’ve had thousands of women enroll!
—Stacey Stewart, founder and CEO, Milkology, Charleston, South Carolina
How do you differentiate your business from your competitors? Share your insights in the comments section below!Print this article