How To Attract Customers with a Unique Market Position

Small Business Marketing 101
I’m going to start this post with a simple thought:

In order for you to get a new customer, somebody must choose to work with your business over your competitor’s. Somebody must pick you, out of every other choice.

Let me underscore this idea with a quote:

“Markets today are driven by choice. The customer has so many good alternatives that you pay dearly for your mistakes. Your competitors get your business and you don’t get it back very easily. Companies that don’t understand this will not survive” - Jack Trout, from Differentiate or Die

When a customer is choosing between you and your competitor, why should they pick you? The answer is: they should come to you because your are different, you offer a special benefit, a unique product, or a certain feel. People will naturally choose to work with your small business if you give them a reason to.  Read more to learn how to create a unique market position, and a great reason for people to work with you.

You can’t be the best at everything, so be the best at one thing.

There are many ways that you can make your small business stand out from the next. Some market positions are obviously going to work better than others, but in general there is one thing to keep in mind—pick one unique difference and stick to it. Trying to sell with every benefit will muddle your true difference.

“If you ignore your uniqueness and try to be everything for everybody, you quickly undermine what makes you different” - Jack Trout (again), from Differentiate or Die

Keeping a razor-sharp focus will not only help you clearly explain your difference to potential customers, it will also make your claim more credible. People who spend all their time focusing on one thing are assumed to be better at it then people who generalize. The same holds true for small businesses. If you pick a single unique difference and stick with it, people will be naturally inclined to believe you.

Some good ways to differentiate your small business.

If you can offer something that no one else does, do it. Having something completely unique is one of the best ways to differentiate your small business and to claim a market position entirely for yourself. A little research will tell you what your competition has, and from there you just need to find a space between their offerings.

Another great way to find a unique market position is to become a specialist. Even if a hundred other companies do the same thing, you can still be different by focusing on one specific aspect and being the best at that. I know of several small furniture shops in my area that are about to go out of business. I know of one shop that is entirely focused on unpainted furniture, and they are doing quite well.

Try to create a unique feel to your company. Starbucks has good coffee, but so do a number of other little shops. What makes Starbucks unique is the experience and feel of going there. By creating a special feel for your company, you can separate yourself from the masses. Grandé anyone?

Some bad ways to differentiate your small business.

“Low prices.” If you really want to drive your company into the ground, compete on price. Unless you can sell in huge quantities (like Wal-Mart) then you should avoid trying to have the lowest price. Even Wal-Mart is faltering on this one, ever since they had to cut salaries and working conditions to keep costs down.

“High Quality.” This rarely works anymore because people expect what you offer to be high quality. Not only that, but they expect it to have more than just high quality. If you want to compete in high end markets, you’ll need to show quality, not tell. You’ll also need to focus intensely on the style and the experience of your company. Which is better: The Quality Inn, or The Four Seasons?

There are many other ways to differentiate, both good and bad. This article really only scratches the surface of finding a unique market position. In reality, markets are so complicated that nobody has all of the answers—so I’m going to leave you with a question to think about:

What are some unique differentiating ideas you’ve used in the past? How well did they work? (feel free to answer in the comments)

Do you have a small business? If you do, I urge you to subscribe to this blog. All of our articles will be sent directly to you, and you’ll get access to special subscriber-only content that you won’t want to miss.

Reader Comments

Nov. 9. 2011 4:49 AM

Want to subscribe to the blog. It is not allowing me access.

Monty Fuller
Feb. 3. 2012 4:14 AM

I always believed that a small business should focus on niche marketing and this article provides clear signs that I am right. Thank you for writing it in such a wonderful manner!

Andra Simla
Feb. 27. 2014 10:30 AM

branding is one of the best and most honest ways of differentiating your business, but niche marketing can take you a long way too. There are lots of businesses that started as niche ones and ended up offering complete services in their field

Peruvian Hair Weave
Jul. 2. 2014 7:27 AM

I had fun reading your article. More power to you.
Peruvian Hair WWW.VirginPeruvianHair.Co.UK

Nov. 12. 2014 9:05 AM

I think this is the best policy for any type of bussiness you might own. Offerring something new and different from what your competitors have is the dream for all of us.

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