Differentiating your brand against the competition is core to how prospects view, evaluate, and choose you.
In a recent survey of the hundreds of thousands of buyers that come to the UpCity marketplace seeking a B2B service provider, 90% evaluated multiple providers before making a buying decision.
Whether you are an SEO agency, a forensic accountant, a virtual assistant, or another B2B service provider, standing out in the crowd is a necessity when acquiring new business. Figuring out how to differentiate your brand, however, can be a challenge.
UpCity has compiled five practical tips to help you showcase your brand, cut through the clutter, and catch the eye of your next customer.
1. Tell Your Story
What makes you unique? When a business is selecting a product, or software, they may compare feature sets of competitors; however, as a service provider, businesses are hiring you, and the difference between you and your competition relies on the human relationship between you and your customer. Ensuring that your website and online presence highlights who you are is paramount.
According to Aaron Boggs, President of digital marketing agency RevLocal, “The framework of our marketing plan is a story. Rather than selling a product or results, we sell a belief and a relationship.
Technology changes, but human nature is perpetual—and there are few things in life and in business that we enjoy more than seeing one person helping another. Loyal customers are created when they believe you care.”
Dean Heasley, Owner of Nashville Marketing Systems, in a recent webinar on reputation management with Grade.us and UpCity, suggests using your photo on your profile. He noted, “I always try to humanize my business. Even in B2B, people want to do business with a person. I make sure my face is on all of my profiles and on my website. Make sure people know who they are going to do business with.”
2. Spread the Love
According to a 2017 Salesforce study, 75% of consumers expect a consistent experience wherever they engage (e.g., website, social media, mobile, in-person). A potential customer probably doesn’t just start by coming to your website. Represent yourself across the web, whether it’s on your social profiles, your Google My Business listing, or in a marketplace like UpCity.
Fifteen years ago, the average consumer typically used two touch-points when buying an item and only 7% regularly used more than four.
Today, consumers use an average of almost six touch-points with nearly 50% regularly using more than four, according to Marketing Week. Having a presence on multiple sites and through a variety of social channels allows your prospects to research you in the way that they want to.
Translation services company Rapport International does an excellent job of consistently communicating their brand not just on their website, but on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and UpCity.
“Our brand is about developing relationships. In the old days, people got to know each other in person. Then, the telephone arrived and that brought a new way to keep in touch,” explained Wendy Pease, President of Rapport International. “Now, we can develop relationships online! We’re open to communicating in whatever way people want to connect. And, we provide services that connect people in the way they want to communicate.”
3. Embrace Multimedia
It may be easier to produce text over video, audio, images, and infographics, but investing in the latter is a great way to stand out. Ninety percent of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000X faster in the brain than text, according to 3M Corporation and Zabisco via Hubspot. By highlighting who you are and what you do in multimedia, you engage prospects who retain more information about you than with simple text.
Website design and digital marketing agency 3 Media Web Co-Founder and President Lysa Miller describes their multifaceted strategy: “One of the techniques that we incorporate into our own social media and content marketing strategy is the use of a mixed variety of multimedia which includes images, photographs, videos, and custom-designed graphics. We also make sure all if this is placed basically ‘everywhere on the Web.’ From our Google Maps page, to our UpCity listing and features and social media channels, you will find a variety of team photos, custom graphics and both professional and non-professional video that tells a story and builds a visual relationship with the user.
“For example, if it’s a blog post, we will likely incorporate a mix of visual media into it. Yes Virginia, all of that, all in the same blog post. The reason: that content is highly valuable, and if it isn’t visually appealing or stimulating no matter how interesting the content is, the reader won’t always engage and read it. With time on page or dwell time being a top new ranking factor in Google Search for 2020, engagement should be at the top of your list. Plus, if you spend all that time writing a great piece of content, you need to make it as engaging as possible to get the maximum benefit from it.
“On social media use a similar technique where we create visual variety with every single post. In most of our posts, we try to incorporate unique photos, use emojis (yep, it’s true), to increase engagement there. We see a huge increase in engagement in our posts that have photos and videos attached as opposed to a link with a photo as the OG Image. So in our office, there is always lots of photo snapping, photoshoots, and videos being made for our social audiences. Yes, it’s a lot of work, but we see the difference and the results from doing it this way.”
4. Be Helpful
Marketing and customer experience expert Jay Baer, in describing his New York Times award-winning book Youtility, said, “The key to breaking through customer cynicism and competitor messaging clutter isn’t shouting louder, it’s becoming truly, massively relevant. Is your marketing so useful that people would pay for it?”
By providing helpful, relevant content, you are able to build trust and credibility with your prospects early on in their decision-making process. Johnston Accountancy, an accounting and bookkeeping firm in San Diego, has built out a blog with highly-relevant content to its core audience with posts like, “What is accrual accounting?” “Your friend, the 1099,” and “Introduction to QuickBooks.”
Ian Johnston, owner of Johnston Accountancy, explains, “Really the way we differentiate ourselves is with personality and having a team. I know a team is not unusual for most industries but most bookkeeping firms that I come across are small offices content to have their little piece of the bookkeeping work. Having a team is, for me, an indication that we have a larger vision to grow our business by helping businesses grow their business.
“That helps us be relatable to our customers, to really tap into their desire to grow something great. We may not be great yet, but we are headed there, and if they catch the vision of what we want to accomplish and where we are going, and they resonate with that vision, I believe we are going to work together well.”
5. Show Your Bling
A survey from Boost Awards and Shape-the-Future found that 82% of business owners admitted to being influenced by awards when buying products and services for their business. Identifying award and certification opportunities can be a key decision point in a prospect choosing you over your competition.
Marketing Technology company Vivial highlights their differentiators across the Web. Their UpCity profile showcases their awards like 2019 Best Places to Work, 2019 Excellence in Customer Service, and 2019 and 2018 Best Content Writing Service, in addition to sharing featured clients and a robust portfolio of their work. Vivial’s website also highlights additional awards, case studies, and testimonials: all helping to show prospects what makes them different.
Vivial’s Vice President of Marketing Laura Cole explains, “It’s important to showcase what sets your company apart from the competition. Whether you leverage awards, case studies or testimonials, you want to demonstrate the quality of your products and services and recognize the hard work employees contribute to your organization, each and every day.”
Setting the Stage
Differentiating your brand against the competition can easily take a backseat to other marketing initiatives, but is core to how prospects view, evaluate, and choose you. As you develop your calendar and plan, earmark a focus and resources to how you can showcase who you are, what you do, and what makes you the best.
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