If you run a business, you have competition. It’s just the way it is, whether you sell software or shoes. For a business to thrive, it has to differentiate itself from the competition by actually delivering what customers want and prefer.

In this article, we’ll take a look at 6 ways to separate your business from the competition. Let’s begin!

  1. Cheaper, Faster and Better

There is a saying among engineers and those who see the big picture in business:

“Cheap, fast, and good: pick two.”

Essentially, this means that you’ll have to make a sacrifice to one of these 3 criteria to boost the others. Here’s how this concept can extend to your competition and your business’ efficiency:

1) If it’s cheap and fast, it won’t be good.
2) If it’s cheap and good, it won’t be fast.
3) If it’s fast and good, it won’t be cheap.

You can use it as a rule of thumb when making decisions about the quality of goods and services you can provide at an optimal level. Your competition may be able to provide a service at a cheaper rate, but they may sacrifice quality. If you emphasize quality in your goods, you can separate yourself from the competition. And, if there’s no discernible difference between your business and competitors, offering a cheaper or more reliable (“faster”) service can be the tipping point.

2.Find the Pain Points

Pain points are problems that customers perceive or feel with the status quo of a business model. For your business to stand out, addressing these pain points can be a way of satisfying the “pain” that customers are willing to pay for. This can be the repetitive tasks that nickel-and-dime our time, as well. For instance, consumers have always had a problem with the long wait times and seemingly-arbitrary pricing that came when hiring a taxi. That is, until ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft offered a novel solution that up-ended the traditional structure of the cab business. Similarly, grocery shoppers have always hated standing in line, especially when they have smaller purchases. Supermarkets responded by creating self-checkout lanes, which solved this problem and increased their efficiency.

By responding to the status quo, these necessary evils can be solved by businesses that focus on where customers lose time, money, or just feel taken advantage. If you solve a pain point, you can be sure that your business is separated from the competition.

3.Offer Stellar Customer Service

These days, the world can seem a bit impersonal with automation and self-service everything taking over. Humans yearn for the human element, where customers feel that their opinions are taken seriously and that they can have an impact on how businesses run to accommodate them.

Basically, pleasing your customer base is the open secret to separating yourself from the competition. Many businesses, especially long-established ones, take their customers for granted when their business begins to gain some traction in the market. These businesses then think of their customers as just numbers, not individuals. How does your business solve this problem? By offering the best customer service out there.

Zappos, the online shoe retailer, is renowned for its customer service policy, where every sales agent is instructed to go the extra distance to please customers (and offering a unprecedented return policy). Similarly, your business should strive to go the extra mile and make sure customers are satisfied, whether that includes a generous return policy, a genuine follow-up on a customer’s problem, or just discounts through customer loyalty programs thanking them for their patronage. Or, you may just want to add a personal touch, order rubber stamps with your company’s logo, and send them a personalized thank-you card from out of the blue. Whatever it is, respond to customers by going beyond the norm and it will separate you from your lazier, ambivalent competition.

4.Think Globally

One of the big missteps for businesses these days is to avoid embracing the zeitgeist, which is globalization. It has never been easier to instantaneously contact potential customers around the world. By setting up a website with ecommerce, you can tap into global markets that may be out of reach for those who can’t reach a brick-and-mortar location. You may find that your competitors have only been thinking locally and fashioning their business model only on those who are in the immediate area. You can differentiate  your business by thinking outside of your city’s “box”.

5.Think Locally

The flipside of thinking globally is that many businesses neglect the local element. After all, many metropolitan areas are feeling the homogeneity of globalization, with limited options and a one-size-fits-all approach that feels unsatisfying. Locals want to feel pride about living where they have chosen to, so businesses that can cater to this positive feeling can reap the benefits.

For instance, local retailers that are feeling the pinch from global giants (i.e. Walmart, Target, TJ Maxx, and so forth) can offer a local’s only section, where local-made goods are offered for those who want to put their dollar votes into the local economy—not the coffers non-local entities.

 6.Create an Online Presence

If you don’t have a website or a social media presence, you may as well not exist. Brick and mortar locations aren’t enough these days. The reason being is that your website and social media accounts are an untapped source of inbound marketing. Most customers research companies beforehand, and if you can offer value to them—whether this is whitepapers, how-to articles, industry news about upcoming trends, etc.—customers will reward your digital presence by trusting your business. Social media also shows that your business is modernized and that you want to directly address your customers on platforms that they use daily.

As you can see, this is only the tip of the iceberg for your business model. With these six methods, you can differentiate yourself from the competition and dominate the markets.