How to Make Your Business Stand Out Among the Competition

Here are some tips to avoid drowning in a ‘sea of sameness’ and get noticed by the potential customers you want to attract

How to Make Your Business Stand Out Among the Competition

Carter Harkins and Taylor Hill

As a local service business, you’re always competing for the eyes of your potential customers. With everything that’s out there — competitors, social media platforms, search engines, ads, etc. — it’s hard to get noticed. It’s hard to stand out. 

Many of us decide to niche down. We know that the service we’re offering isn’t 100% unique, so we try to do the work a little better, a little faster, a little cheaper. Maybe we start offering a guarantee or running Facebook ads. But then the competitors catch on. They start copying us and, before we know it, our differentiating idea or approach is no longer differentiating. Once again, we find ourselves in a sea of sameness, trying desperately to get noticed by the potential customers we want to attract. 

It’s never ending and it’s exhausting. 

Everyone is looking for ways to “disrupt” and “stand out.” When we see someone doing something that seems to be working, we naturally want to try it ourselves. But, for the most part, copying the competition isn’t a good idea. When we do what we see others doing, rarely do we see the same results. Even if we do get some traction initially, eventually it stops working because it’s no longer novel or unique. 

Should you exhaust yourself with constant brainstorming and pivots? Should you try to be the first on every new platform or the first to try every new marketing or advertising strategy? No. 

What you should do is …

Focus on what truly makes you unique and go hard

When we bring on new clients, we always ask the question: What makes you different from the competition? And the answers are almost always the same:

  • “We’re a family-owned business.”
  • “We offer no-mess service.” 
  • “We invest in education.”

When we ask what words could be used to describe the business, the answers are usually pretty similar across the board as well:

  • Professional
  • On-time
  • Clean
  • Courteous

But you need to go deeper when picking a differentiator. 

Don’t think that being “family-owned” is going to make you stand out. Chances are, that’s what everyone else is highlighting, too. If family is a big focus of your business, go beyond just using the phrase “family-owned” in your marketing. Highlight your family and the importance of family every chance you get. Talk about how it impacts every aspect of your business, your values, and the customer experience you provide.   

If you’re going to use humor in your marketing and branding, use it everywhere. Be consistent. Be the drain cleaner everyone associates with a good sense of humor. Be known for it. 

Whatever you decide is your unique advantage, go all the way with it and stick with it for more than just a couple of months. Consistency is something a lot of businesses lack, especially those businesses always looking for the next thing. When you stick with something longer than the competitors who jump on every new fad or trend, you end up really differentiating yourself and standing out. 

Pause and reflect before jumping

FOMO (fear of missing out) is very real. If it weren’t, we bet 70% of the population would delete all of their social media accounts. As a business, it’s easy to get swept up in the latest social media platform or marketing strategy. 

We see articles all the time about how this app or that app is working to bring businesses new leads. But do we really all need to be on every platform and investing in every paid ad strategy? No.

A lot of early adopters may have luck with TikTok or whatever the newest app is because they were the first businesses there. But that doesn’t mean that what’s working for them will work for us if we all jump on board. And it doesn’t mean we should immediately invest time and resources into yet another platform for our businesses. Actually, it’s better to be on fewer platforms if: 

  1. You know your customers are there.
  2. You can really put time and effort into them.

Don’t follow the hype and spread yourself thin across every platform under the sun. Consider your target audience, the audience on the platform you’re considering, and the time you have to put toward that new platform. It’s better to not have a presence at all on one or two platforms than to make a half-hearted effort on 10.

Is making your business stand out easy? Of course not. But remember, differentiation is not about following the crowd — it’s about standing out from the crowd. When you’re trying to figure out what steps to take to make your business stand out, be strategic, go deep, and always consider what makes sense for your business.

About the authors
Carter Harkins and Taylor Hill are the co-founders of Spark Marketer, a Nashville, Tennessee-based digital marketing company that works primarily with service businesses. They're also co-authors of the book, Blue Collar Proud: 10 Principles for Building a Kickass Business You Love. Both regularly speak at service industry trade shows and conferences across the nation. Visit or


Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.