Standing out from the crowd is hard to do as a small business. While there are many ways to provide good service, creating memorable service is harder to do. Small businesses tend to lack huge marketing budgets and there’s little chance of competing successfully with large companies in this area. However, what small businesses can do better than virtually any big business is creating personal, custom service that really hits home with customers. The key is to find a way to stand out.

Standing Out Doesn’t Mean Lowest Costs

One of the biggest misconceptions companies have is believing they have to have the lowest price to get customers in the door. That’s rarely the case. Most people are more interested in quality products, great service, and a better level of workmanship than the next guy. Keep in mind that you do not have to run the best sales or have the lowest prices all the time. However, you do have to find a way to stand out from the competition otherwise. How can you do that?

Tips for Differentiating Your Business

Take into consider a few tips that can help you. As a business, you can use these tips as a way to create a customized solution that works for your business.

  • Provide added service that the other guy does not. For example, your home improvement business may focus on providing licensed electrical work. Why not offer a free energy consultation with customers? Offering a way for customers to save money on an energy audit provides an added benefit, but rarely costs your business anything more. In fact, spotting problems with energy can lead to increased service you can provide the client.
  • Go further than the average provider. A great tool to do this focuses simply on defining services that your customers need and do not like to do. For example, if you are a contractor, you may be likely to provide the quote and work, but what about helping with building permits? What about stretching the service you offer to include inspection guarantees?

By finding a way to offer something added, you’ll be doing something that adds value to your business in the eyes of the customer. Take some time to consider the benefits of doing this. You are not losing anything on payments, but you are enhancing the value your business has in the eyes of the customer. That can make the biggest difference in gaining and keeping customers long term.

Mark van Berkel is Founder and President of Hunch Manifest Inc. While managing business operations he also leads the team in designing semantic technology to provide personalized online presence and reputation management services. Prior to forming the company, he was consultant in enterprise software projects to companies including Panasonic, Shell, and General Electric and was an Architect for a world leading human capital management software-as-a-service. Mark holds a Bachelor of Information Systems from StFX University and did his graduate studies at University of Toronto, getting a MEng Industrial Information Engineering and an MBA, Strategy and Innovation from the Rotman School of Management. In 2006 he published a 170 page report as a researcher at the Semantic Technologies Lab at the University of Toronto and built a semantic technology prototype for SAP Research Labs. Connect with Mark on LinkedIn or Twitter. Mark is also certified in Google Analytics.