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Differentiation ? Smart Marketing Strategies for the Solo Entrepreneur plus articles and information on Entrepreneurialism Are you ever frustrated or hesitant when you talk to prospective customers because you can't readily explain why they should e to you rather than go to your petitors? Sure DeSean Jackson Jersey , you might have your 30-second elevator speech, but then they ask you that dreaded question, "So what makes you different?" Then, all those self-doubts creep in, and you just aren't sure what to say. Differentiation can boost confidence--yours in yourself and that prospective customer's confidence in you! -- Dif-fer-en-ti-ate v. tr. To perceive or show the difference in or between; discriminate. -- In business terms, to differentiate means to create a benefit that customers perceive as being of greater value to them than what they can get elsewhere. It's not enough for you to be different--a potential customer has to take note of the difference and must feel that the difference somehow fits their need better. (Other words that mean virtually the same thing: Competitive Advantage; Unique Selling Proposition; or Value Proposition.) As you are building your business, you can use differentiation to attract more customers. Once you have momentum, differentiation allows you to charge a higher price because you are delivering more value to your customers. Make a point to evaluate and adjust your differentiation methods at least annually. The various methods of differentiating your businesses fall into four general categories: Price Differentiation Focus Differentiation ProductService Differentiation Customer Service Differentiation Price Differentiation Differentiating on price is probably the most mon and easily understood method. HOWEVER, for Solo Entrepreneurs, caution is in order. On the one hand, potential customers might expect a lower price from you than from your larger petition because they perceive you as having less overhead Alfred Morris Jersey , etc. On the other hand, cheaper prices can evoke perceptions of lower quality, a less-stable business, etc. And if you pete on price against petitors with deeper pockets, you can price yourself right into bankruptcy. Be creative with this differentiator by peting on something other than straight price. For example, you might offer: - More value --offer more products or services for the same price. - Freebies --aessories, panion products, free upgrades, and coupons for future purchases. - Free shipping , etc.--convenience sells, especially when it is free! - Discounts --includes offering regular sales Robert Griffin III Jersey , coupons, etc. (see cautions above) Focus Differentiation For Solo Entrepreneurs, this is the most important method of differentiation, and in many ways, the easiest. Why? Because as a Solo Entrepreneur, you simply can't be everything to everybody, so you must pick a specific way to focus your business. Once you have done that, you have an automatic advantage over larger panies because you can bee more of an expert in that one field --and you can build close relationships with key customers that will be hard to duplicate. For example, you might differentiate yourself through: - Location --take advantage your closeness to prospective customers. - Customer specialization --be very specific about what characteristics your customers will have-for example, racing bicycle enthusiasts or panies with a spiritual conscience. - Customer relationships --know customers really well, form partnerships with them Pierre Garcon Jersey , and get them to speak for you! - Affinity relationships --associate your productservice with a well-known person or organization. - One-stop shopping --offer everything your target market needs, in your area of expertise. - Wide selection (within your niche)-although this one may seem to be the opposite of focus--the key is to be very specific in one dimension and very broad in another. ProductService Offering Differentiation How much you are able to differentiate your product or service offering will vary based on what type of business you are in. For instance, if you are in a highly regulated business, your options may be limited. Explore a totally new market or type of product or service, however, and the possibilities abound. The key to suessful differentiation in this category, again, is to know your customers, really, really well. Talk to them often, and you will know what they need most and be able to offer it Trent Williams Jersey , long before your petitors know what is happening. For example, your product or service could stand out in one of these ways: - Quality --create a product or service that is exceptional in one or more ways. Examples: Lasts longer - Better - Easier to use - Safer - NewFirst --be the first one to offer something in your locationfield. - FeaturesOptions --offer lots of choices, unusual binations, or solve a problem for a customer in a way no one else does. - Customization --as a Solo Entrepreneur, you may be able to more easily handle special orders than big, mass-market petitors. Customer Service Differentiation Have you noticed how customer service seems to be out of vogue these days? This situation makes excellent customer service a great opportunity for differentiation and another natural advantage for Solo Entrepreneurs that already know what's important to their customers. Build your reputation on making customers feel really good about doing business with you. Works great with referral marketing, too.

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