How to be the same and different at the same time

It’s likely that your business does the same thing as someone else. For some businesses, this holds them back. For other’s, it helps them stand out.

To stand out in a crowd you need to do what bread companies do. Think of a supermarket aisle full of sliced bread. How do they all compete? It’s all just bread. But when you walk down the aisle you pick up one over another, why? In this article, we’ll find out.

Sliced bread

Being the same actually makes it easier

It might seem counterintuitive at first but being the same as something makes it easier for customers to find you. It’s the reason products are grouped in the supermarket, it makes them easier to find. Customers have been trained to find what they want and then make a choice between products. So by showing that you’re the same as another business it can help a customer find you and position you alongside another business to make a choice.

person shopping in Super market aisle

You don’t have to place yourself in the bread aisle

To stand out you need to pick what you position your business alongside. If you choose a cheap, readily available comparison you’ll be compared to them. If however, you can position yourself as being alongside other premium or tailored brands then you will be compared with them.

It doesn’t have to be other brands, it could be a lifestyle you want your customers to compare you with. Think of Swiss watch brands that use yachts, private jets and fast cars to set the comparison for their watches. Swatch and Rolex are both made in Switzerland but are they comparable? They both tell the time so what’s the difference?

Swatch and Rolex watch

Your story positions you

The only thing that makes your business stand out is your story. The business story you tell is what makes customers position you in their minds. If they resonate with your story then they will use your story to justify the purchase to themselves. If they don’t get it then they will look for another story that they like.

Your story says “people like us do things like this”. It shows why you do what you do and explains the bigger vision of what you want to achieve. When you combine your story with empathy and authority it will truly signpost who is the right fit for your business. To these people, there will be no choice to make.

red cakes all the same

The most powerful tool

Your business story is a tool, not a happy ever after tale. It’s the one thing that no one else has and no one else can copy. That’s why it’s so important to tell your story when you’re talking with your customers. Every small business has a story within it waiting to be told. On our accelerator programme, I coach each cohort to create a story that makes them stand out.

If you want to write a compelling story then I would highly recommend Donald Miller’s book Building a Story Brand. The definitive guide to creating your business story.

Story Book

Create a compelling story

To get started with your business story use our guide on empathy led marketing. It will show you how to combine empathy and authority together to make a compelling story. Your story will take time to formulate and to refine. It won’t be perfect the first time. Try to tell your story on your website, in an email and on your next sales call. See how it feels and what response you get. You then add to it, improve it the more you tell it.

I don’t have a good story

A lot of people jump straight to the “I don’t have a good story” line. But if you look a bit deeper there will be something in the way you do it, the reason you do it, who inspired you, what motivates you that will really stand out. It doesn’t have to be a rags to riches tale or an epiphany moment to be a great story.

When you tell your story you’ll connect with your customers as no other company has before. When you get it right customer will want to know more and they won’t see anyone else as being a comparison at all.

Getting started

To get started check out our guide on empathy led marketing. If this article has got you thinking then subscribe for weekly marketing inspiration direct to your inbox.