Running a business

Business competition - how to stand out from the crowd


    Not being able to set yourself apart from your business competition is a common and legitimate concern amongst new business owners. But as Richard Branson said, “If you want to stand out from the crowd, give people a reason not to forget you”.

    Short on ideas? Here’s some inspiration.

    Thank you notes

    This one works well with clients who you’ve enjoyed working for, but there’s no guarantee of repeat business – it’s all about front-of-mindedness.

    Send them a note, saying it was a pleasure to work with them, that you really enjoyed the project, and that they can get in touch any time. That way when the opportunity of more work comes up, they’ll hopefully remember your message and pick up the phone.

    A funky invoice

    Again, this trick is all about being memorable. Often the last interaction you’ll have with a client is firing off your invoice. Although primarily a utilitarian document destined for a dusty filing cabinet, your invoice can be treated as one last opportunity to slap your client with your creative flair.

    Unexpected sweeteners

    Nothing says “I like you and I want to work for you again” like unsolicited gifts. These usually come in the form of Christmas presents for your favourite clients – a bottle of bubbly or some little trinket relevant to your field – but you can get just about as creative as you want.

    It’s worth bearing in mind though, many companies have restrictions on receiving gifts. Look before you leap, otherwise you could end up sending an expensive gift that gets returned; an awkward scenario for everyone.

    Build your profile

    This strategy can be risky as it involves investing time in things that won’t necessarily provide a monetary return – but it boils down to doing a bit of a PR job on yourself. Find some ways to get your name out there – contribute to industry publications, arrange interviews for podcasts, speak at conferences, start a blog or vlog.

    Establish yourself as a thought leader in your niche and don’t be shy about publicising your publicity – a hero shot of you speaking at a conference can make your website very persuasive!

    Great social media presence

    Companies like Innocent Smoothies are perhaps as well known for their relaxed, comedic demeanour on Twitter as they are for their drinks, and even formerly reviled “You’re Beautiful” singer James Blunt has used the platform to banter his way into the nation’s hearts.

    If you need a bit of help knowing where to begin, check out our guide Social Media Management for Beginners.

    The average person spends nearly two hours on social media per day, so you’d better make sure you are using it to remind people you exist, and that you’re just a tweet away if they need you.

    Be a human being

    It’s a tired old saying, but people hire people. If a client engages you for a project, they want the work done well, on budget, and on time – but that doesn’t mean you have to be a workaholic cyborg who sits in silence in the corner.

    Get to know the people in your client’s company, forge relationships and show yourself to be not only a great, flexible resource, but a genuinely nice person too. This is the greatest advantage local freelancers have over their bargain-basement online counterparts – so use it to best effect. Who knows, you may even make a new friend or two.