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In a crowded market, sometimes it’s best to stand out. What’s your best tip for how to home in on your niche and define what’s unique about your personal brand?
These answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more at yec.co.
1. Develop a Consistent ‘Signature Move’
Most marketing and public relations outreach are the same across businesses in particular industries. To differentiate yourself and stand out in a niche or market, it is crucial to develop a signature move. This could be your branding or logo, or the use of paper materials such as handwritten thank you notes in the digital age. Always do the same thing, and be consistent with all your clients. – Ryan Bradley, Koester & Bradley, LLP
2. Find an Area You’re Passionate About
Start by choosing a niche that you’re truly passionate about, one in which you will aim for nothing but excellence. This will work in creating loyal brand ambassadors. It’s equally important to be completely authentic in your approach. Do not try to mimic other successful brand stories, because falsehood is not that hard to detect. Your voice, personality and values should be yours for real. – Derek Robinson, Top Notch Dezigns
3. Write Your Brand Story
To identify what makes your personal brand unique and convey it to others well, sit down and write your brand story. Just listing a bunch of adjectives on your LinkedIn profile or website won’t work. Writing your brand story will help you tell a cohesive story. Write a paragraph or two about how your values, beliefs, and passions have shaped you and how you use them to create value in your work. – Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights
4. Research Your Competition
Just like you would do with your company, you should do with your personal brand, too — you’ve got to research your competition to determine how to stand out. Do some digging online to find the profiles and websites of other personal brands in your niche or industry. Take a look at what they’re doing, and what they’re not doing, to discover how you can stand out from the crowd. – Blair Williams, MemberPress
5. Focus on Your Initial Purpose
Every company in a crowded market sets out with a plan to blow away the competition. Whether it’s alleviating pain points in existing alternatives, simplifying complicated features or adding missing options, there is always a reason for a beginning. Focus on your initial purpose to define what is unique about your brand. – Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms
6. Go After a Sub-Niche
The secret to effective niche marketing is to be one step ahead of the competition. This means that you need to find a niche inside your chosen niche and appeal to that demographic. If your chosen niche is vegetarian recipes, for example, then focus on the sub-niche of vegetarian potato recipes. Once you’ve dominated that sphere, you can effectively branch out into other sub-niches and grow. – Bryce Welker, CPA Exam Guy
7. Ask Your Customers
Customer feedback is an important element to help you define what’s unique about your brand. Ask customers if they like your product and request feedback about what they would like to see you build next. You can then see if your competitors have some of the most popular features that they requested. If they don’t have one, you’ve found a new differentiator. Let your customers differentiate you. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner
8. Position Yourself as a Trusted Advisor
In the crowded business financing market, we’ve got to give our target market a clear reason to choose us over the competition. We do our best to stand out from the crowd by promoting our reviews/testimonials, being transparent and employing a more consultative approach. Everyone is looking for transparency, as well as a consultative approach versus an overtly sales-driven approach. – Jared Weitz, United Capital Source
9. Identify Your Strengths
Create a SWOT analysis for your brand, categorizing your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. After you have written them down, take a look at your strengths and create a marketing message that really gets those across. Make sure all your strengths are included in videos and copy throughout your site, as well as ads on social media. – Jared Atchison, WPForms
10. Give Your Audience What They Want
It seems like everyone wants to build a brand to feel the “fame” — but go further than that. Do something more powerful and focus on the audience. Now my posts reflect what my audience wants to see and hear; simultaneously, I am authentic and myself. There will always be people who don’t like what you’re doing, but it’s OK because as long as the majority like you. That’s when you have a brand. – Sweta Patel, Startup Growth Mode
11. Gather Industry Recognition
Some of the easiest marketing collateral your company can acquire is social proof in the form of awards and industry recognition. There are awards for every vertical on every scale (national and local) and tons of partnerships you can enter into. Whether it’s “best of” awards for workplace culture or performance, these are excellent selling points to advertise your brand. – Kristopher Brian Jones, LSEO.com
12. Know Who You Don’t Want to Attract
The last thing you want to do with your personal brand is being everything to everyone. Get a very good understanding of your strengths and your weaknesses and double down on your strengths. Make sure to be clear about who you don’t want to attract and be very clear about it in your content and your imagery. – James Guldan, Vision Tech Team
The other day I was pursuing the latest Great American Pastime—binge-viewing on Netflix—and discovered an interesting British reality series: The Great Escapers.
It follows three British couples who pick up stakes and head to the Continent for a change of lifestyle. However, there’s one catch: They have to figure out how to earn money. They all start their own businesses—two in France, one in Spain—and the series quickly morphs from simply pursuing an alternate lifestyle to coping with the challenges of starting a new business in a new country.
This is where the scenarios start to resonate with me. Expanding into new countries is a great way to grow, whether the growth you are seeking is measured by personal fulfillment or by net profits.
Going from high cost to low cost
I need to mention one more key element that played into these couples’ decision to abandon England: real Estate and other costs were much less expensive than in their homeland. This is a factor any business needs to consider when planning a move or expansion. I recently read an article about major corporations that are relocating from the San Francisco Bay Area to other states to lower their costs. More on costs in a bit.
Some of you may be considering a wholesale change of scenery like the three Great Escapers, but I think more of you look at operating overseas as a strategy to expand your company and grab some additional growth. There are some established ways to accomplish this, and fortunately you can “dial in” the level of commitment you want to invest in both time and money. Let’s look at a couple of paths you might choose.
One of the easiest ways to establish a presence overseas is to create a partnership with a company that already operates in the country where you want to expand to. They pick up your brand and ultimately are in the driver’s seat when it comes to determining the success of your venture.
This can be a great way to get started and it also works well with tangible products. For example, a furniture manufacturer in North Carolina might want to pursue a partnership with a chain of furniture stores overseas.
I alluded to one of the problems of handing off responsibility to an offshore partner. You lose some control of your brand and its ultimate ability to succeed.
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Can you franchise your business?
This brings me to another strategy that is perhaps slightly less well-known among smaller businesses, but in many ways solves this problem. It’s also suitable for both product-based and service-based companies: franchising. This approach is especially appealing if you’ve worked hard to document and systemize your business. (And if you haven’t, it’s a good place to start if you want to assure the future success of your business, whether or not you choose to expand overseas!)
The franchise model also works well for service industries, but be sure to take cultural and economic differences into consideration. For example, in the U.S., various cleaning services are proven franchise model winners, but in countries where wages are significantly lower, cleaning might not work. In less prosperous nations live-in household help is within the financial reach of many who would be your target clientele.
Consider the culture
And this brings us to the topic of cultural differences. Earlier I mentioned one of the reasons the three British couples left their homeland was because prices were lower overseas. However, they did encounter some social, commercial, or cultural differences that occasionally caused operational snags.
One of the couples started a tourism-based business that relied on their van for daily transportation. When the van needed what seemed to be a fairly routine repair, the garage took two weeks to turn it around. If you live in a country where you’re accustomed to dropping your car off in the morning and picking it up in the evening, this would be a shocker.
If you work with an overseas partner for expansion abroad, you’ll be able to sidestep many of these kinds of hassles. The same is somewhat true if you sell franchises, but you will have to maintain at least a small organization in the host country to sell and service your franchise operators.
Even if your overseas adventure isn’t chronicled for a streaming series, it can be great for your brand and your long-term profits. Make this year the year where you take the plunge.
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