Putting yourself out there is scary. No doubt about it. It takes confidence in your abilities, belief in your idea, and to be honest, a whole lot of courage. But it also takes planning, preparation, and undeniable alignment to what you’re doing and why it’s different from what others are offering. This is known as your Unique Differentiator. It is what distinguishes you from your competitors and helps you to really stand out in the market. Whether it’s a saturated or an emerging niche market, having something uniquely you will help you reach your ideal customers.
The first step in identifying what makes you, YOU, is highlighting some of the major events and turning points of your life that have gotten you to where you are today. Not one other person in the world has the exact same experiences as you, so no one will do anything exactly the same way. Your experiences contribute to your beliefs, and your beliefs shape who you are.
In order to bring your unique differentiator to life, I recommend looking at your life and pulling out some of the influential things you’ve been through. What impacted you? How did it influence your perspective? How did it contribute to who you are? The milestones and major events of your life may seem inconsequential when thinking about your business idea, but remember that they made you who you are, and because of that, have influenced your beliefs, your thoughts, and your actions. Without these experiences, you may never have had the idea for your business that you have now.
Another key element to enhancing your unique differentiator is marrying what you’re good at with what you’re passionate about. Take me for example…I’m a creative person and a talented musician. I’m also a highly effective communicator, have an undeniably healthy work ethic, and am driven to learn and succeed on my own terms. Engaging others, getting the job done, and blazing my own path are second nature to me.
My passions are personal growth and well-being, making a difference for others, and breaking down learned beliefs and behaviours that aren’t serving you. I could talk for hours, unscripted, about the importance of recognizing what matters to you and the value of building it into your life. It riles me up and builds a sense of urgency in me that nothing else I’ve done in my 25+ year career has managed to awaken. And when I see people killing it after chasing what they want, especially when the soundtrack they’ve listened to for so long is a neverending loop of people telling them they’d never be able to pull it off, it literally makes my heart race. It physically affects me.
What did I do? I married my abilities with my passion and built the Business Academy for Creative Entrepreneurs to help people get after their ‘impossible dream’ and build success on their own terms. BACE is built on my strengths, my experience, my expertise, and my passion. Do other business coaches and programs exist? Sure. But my unique differentiator is combining what drives me (my passion) with my knowledge, expertise, and personal life experiences. No one else does what I do the way I do it. And no one else will do what you do the way you do it either.
The other important piece to know here is that my unique differentiator works for the market segment I’ve identified as my ideal client. It speaks to them and reaches them in a way that other programs don’t because I’ve built my program intentionally for them. And with regard to the potential customers it doesn’t work for, I’m okay with that. It’s not meant for them and they’ll find other programs or offerings out there that are. Your unique differentiator won’t be a fit for everyone, and it shouldn’t be. If it is for everyone, it isn’t unique. It’s generic.
Watering down your differentiator because you’re nervous about limiting your potential is like seasoning your pasta sauce with every single spice in your spice rack because you’re worried it’s going to be bland. The result is a mish-mash of flavours that no one really wants because they can’t decipher what they’re eating. It’s confusing, and quite honestly, unappealing.
The same goes for your business. Be clear on the value you offer to a specific audience.
Validate the market to see what else is out there.
You need to determine if what you are offering is of interest to the specific target market you’ve identified as your ideal customers or clients. You can do this in a few different ways.
- Look for other businesses or competitors that offer something similar to the product or service you are offering. If there are existing businesses, there is an existing need as well. Remember, your unique differentiator will attract your ideal customers regardless of what else is out there. Start with a quick Google search to see what’s out there, and then deepen your research to learn what your competitors do and identify the existing gap in the market.
- Search forums and social platforms that talk about products or services that are similar to what you are offering. Take note of what people are saying, what they are looking for, and what their current experience when sourcing existing products or services has been like for them. Knowing what has worked and what hasn’t worked for your ideal customers will help you refine your idea and sharpen your unique differentiator. It will also help you understand exactly what your ideal customer says they are looking for so you can talk directly to them through your marketing tactics and build compelling messages to attract them to you.
- Reach out to people in your life who fit your ICA and ask them questions. Odds are you know people who could benefit from your product or service. Dig into some juicy questions and use their responses to enhance your offering. You want to make sure you are filling a need, so listen carefully, identify the pain points they express and the desired fix they are looking for, and look for trends across the conversations you have. You want to know your ideal customer intimately and solve their problem with a solution that aligns with your passion and expertise.
The final point I’m going to make is an extension to being clear on the value you offer. And that is your WHY. Showing why your ideal customers should buy from you instead of your competitors ties their head with their heart. Knowing what you offer speaks to their rational side so they can make informed decisions on whether or not your product or service meets their needs. But knowing why you do what you do, or your motivations behind the product or service you sell, connects with the customer’s emotions and gets to the heart of the matter.
Maybe you’re a local business that supports and partners with other local businesses. Maybe you’re a vintage reseller because you thrive on the thrill of the hunt but are equally as passionate about environmental causes and minimizing the impact of fast fashion. Or maybe you’re all about empowering others and helping them be who they truly are so they can live life on their own terms regardless of societal expectations (*ahem). Whatever your WHY, share it. Tell others why it matters. Tell others why you care. Tell others why working with you contributes to a bigger picture. It’s more than a financial transaction. It’s reaching a destination with you that aligns with their own beliefs. It helps them get somewhere closer to their own values simply by choosing to buy from you over your competitor.
Your unique differentiator is like your fingerprint.
One of a kind and uniquely yours.
No one can replicate it, but unless you ink it, enlarge it, and poster it around town, no one will see it either.
Figure out what makes you unique, amplify it in a way that meets a need of your ideal customer, and shout from the rooftops why anyone should care. Once you do that, the right people for you–otherwise known as your ideal customers–will start to see the value of what you offer and understand why you’re the one for them.