The power of online search has brought millions of options to our fingertips. Customers have more choices than ever before when choosing a company or product.
“Build it, and they will come” won’t succeed in today’s sea of options. With the changing landscape of options and wealth of information online, you have to think strategically about how your company can capture the hearts and eyes of new customers who have more options than ever before.
Our company, which provides software for online event registration and fundraising management, has triple-digit growth despite living in a crowded marketplace with several industry goliaths. We regularly win customers from huge, publicly traded companies and venture-backed companies with hundreds of millions of dollars. We do this all without a penny of outside funding and with a team not much larger than a high school football squad. We’ve learned a thing or two about standing out, and here are six ways we are winning over customers that you can apply to your company.
1. Take a stand
Don’t simply talk about what your company does well. Take a stand and have an opinion about what’s wrong with the industry and even the alternatives to your product. Our company has taken a stand against an industry of outdated options that give you less and cost you more. Since every product solves a problem, you better be clear and opinionated about the problem you solve. Customers will appreciate a company that has a strong opinion for how things ought to be done.
2. Be human
Many corporate websites are cold, lack personality and tone, and contain lots of corporate-speak. Even their graphics are impersonal, showing stock photos of handshakes instead of pictures of real people from the company. While this low bar of marketing might be easier, today’s consumers expect to create a connections with companies. To foster greater connections between your company and prospective customers, try changing your website copy to be more human-like with a conversational tone, use real photos of real people at your company, and engage with people on social media.
3. Draw comparisons to the competition
When customers shop, they are usually comparing between several options. This poses a challenge for you, because with so many options, it may be difficult for customers to immediately see how your product is different from ones they are evaluating. Consider creating a page on your website that draws a comparison between all the leading alternatives in the industry and points out how, specifically, your product is different and better. This has worked greatly for us; we even have a calculator that shows customers savings across three major competitors. Not only does this help prospective customers make better decisions, it saves them an enormous amount of time deciphering the differences between each company.
4. Create unique experiences
Recent trends indicate that positive customer satisfaction can be greatly influenced by unique experiences. The customer experience is much more influential than ever before. For our customer support, we regularly share animated gifs to bring delight to the previously mundane chat interactions. If a customer reaches a particular milestone in their success, we send a celebratory care package with a mini bottle of champagne. We take any customer who comes to visit us in Sacramento to happy hour. These unique experiences have not only helped us achieve great customer satisfaction, we now have a cult-like following among many of our customers who rave about us online.
5. Become a thought leader
In addition to making a terrific product in the industry you love, commit yourself to writing articles, hosting lectures, participating in podcasts, and creating infographics for your industry that help people succeed. Not only will people benefit from your contributions, you will build a following and develop greater influence in your field. You and your company will eventually be recognized as experts in the field, which will result in greater trust by prospective customers.
6. Give back
Prospective customers respond well when they see your company is giving back and participating in social impact. If you are looking for several ways to use your company for social good, check out “5 Ways Your Company Can Change the World. We Did!” Get your company involved in your community, industry, or causes you care about in order to show the world you are making a difference in and outside your field.
For better or worse, the voice of a consumer has more influence than ever before in shaping how prospective customers consider your company. If you want to stand out in a crowded marketplace, your company needs to do something worthy of being noticed and talked about. These six strategies will help you get there.