September 14, 2015
Let’s face it, as food entrepreneurs, unless you have some type of proprietary product, there isn’t necessarily too much that small entrepreneurs (with limited budgets) can bring to market that are completely and utterly revolutionary. This isn’t to say that the products you’re working on aren’t unique, but chances are there are other folks out there who are also making cookies, curries, granolas, bbq, etc. Yours may taste better, use better ingredients, incorporate different flavors, etc – but sometimes the line between what makes you different from your competitors can be a fine one and that can make it hard for you to help your customers understand why they should shop from you.
If you find yourself in this situation (or worse, you find yourself in a situation where you’re coming out with unique flavors only to find them quickly copied by competitors), there are two main ways you can differentiate yourself with the goal of creating a loyal following of customers who not only recognize and buy your brand, but actively tell other people about it:
1. Make sure you’re telling your story: Your product may not necessarily be completely novel but your story is. We’ve talked before about the importance of telling your story (both your personal one as an entrepreneur and the business’ story) in a way that is authentic and resonates with your target consumer. No matter what competitors try to copy, they can’t copy your story. (Check out past articles about how to tell your business story by doing a search on this site).
2. Good customer service can and does make a world of difference: Differentiate yourself by going above and beyond when it comes to customer service. Surprise & Delight your customers in ways they aren’t expecting and they’re going to remember you. Sadly, these days the bar for customer service is at an all time low so if you choose to be personable and provide great customer service, it can be the difference between a ‘oh what’s that company’s name again’ and ‘I have to tell you about this great experience I had with XYZ small business recently!’