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Standing out in a crowded, competitive marketplace can be tricky for B2B companies. With the rate at which digital marketing is constantly shifting and evolving, it’s generally not enough to just have a presence – you need to stand out.

When clients are faced with many potential businesses to choose from, what makes them want to choose your business over others?

Differentiation is one of the most strategic activities that you can engage in as a B2B company.

Many businesses make the mistake of trying to copy-cat what their competitors are doing or emulate online strategies that they’ve deemed successful. A lot of marketing money is wasted trying to match up.

Here’s my advice – it’s not about matching competitors, it’s about defining what makes you different from them – your uniqueness.

It may take some soul searching, but if you can take the time to understand your USP (Unique Selling Point), you will stand out from the crowd. It will also mean your marketing efforts will be more targeted, and you will also likely have a higher conversion strike-rate.

How do you define a USP? There’s a couple of components to this.

Benefits vs Features 

Your USP needs to clearly articulate the benefits of your product / service to your consumers. These benefits are quite different to the features. The benefit needs to solve a problem or issue for your prospective client and make their life easier.

Defining your USP includes offering your audience something that a competitor’s product can’t or doesn’t already offer them. And it needs to be compelling enough for the customer to switch them over to you. To do this, you’ll need to get a clear idea of who your competitors are, and what they are offering.

Competitor Review

A good starting point is to list the benefits and features of your product / service, and then undertake a comparison with your competitors’ offerings. Highlight those benefits that your product or service offers, but your competitors do not offer. It will begin to become obvious where your products are similar, and where they differentiate.

Next, take some time to look at your competitors’ advertising and marketing material – be it websites, social media, brochures, TV ads, magazine ads etc. Understand where they are positioning themselves in the market – what benefits are they pushing, and what angle are they taking with their marketing campaigns? What do they believe they are best at? 

There’s no point wasting time and money going head-to-head with them on the same sort of benefit or feature. You need to ensure your benefits are unique to you.

Putting your USP to work

Craft your USP into a short, concise statement. This needs to be something that can be easily understood by your customers, and something that you can easily communicate to them. And, most importantly, one that you and your customers will believe.

Once you’ve narrowed this down, take time to investigate current market trends – both nationally and internationally to screen your USP. Is it a USP that is in line with where the market is heading, will it have longevity?

Remember price is important, but it is never the only reason that people purchase your product or service. Many other factors come into play depending on the needs of the customer. Take the time to understand why they would want to purchase your product – is it because it is practical? Reliable? Glamorous? Convenient?

The purchase process is often a daunting one for a customer, regardless of whether the service or product is B2B or B2C. Taking the hard work out of that process by clearly communicating the USP of your product / service, you are providing key insights into the benefits offered by your business over another.

Once you have formalised your USP, own it! Believe it. Be consistent with it. Communicate it to your customers via your website, advertising campaigns, and all marketing material. Ensure that all aspects of your business reflect your USP – including service, sales process, even the atmosphere or look of your store (if appropriate).

Want to stand out from the crowd? Advertise what makes you unique.

This article was first written and published for EMA Business Plus magazine.