Boss Lady

Help your business stand out from the crowd: 5 tips that work in the real world


Every great song has a killer hook. It’s one of those things that’s difficult to explain in the abstract but easy to identify in real time.

Great businesses are no different. All have at least one attribute — one hook — that sets them apart from the competition.

These differentiators take a multitude of forms and some out and out defy characterization. But all raise their owners’ fortunes.

Does your business have a great hook? If you need to think about this for very long, the answer is probably no (or “yes, but it’s not good enough.”) Do something about that by weighing these five proven tips to help your business stand out from the crowd and choosing the one that’s best for your enterprise. 

1. Give product away for free (but not too much) 

You’ve probably heard of the “freemium” model. In fact, you probably patronize businesses that use it. “Freemium” is so common these days that it’s almost easier to find consumer-facing companies that haven’t yet adopted it.

And yet the “freemium” model remains poorly understood and easy to mess up, according to Harvard Business Review. Striking the right balance is essential. Give away too much and potential customers won’t feel any urgency to buy; give away too little and you’ll fail to whet their appetites. 

2. Do something no one else in your market is doing

Quick: What’s something none of your competitors are doing right now to attract new business? The more obvious, the better.

Got your answer? Good. Go ahead and do it.

Filling an unserved need is Business 101. It looks different in different industries, of course — from a new software shortcut in the SaaS world to a high-margin amenity in the hospitality world, like Manitoba hotelier David Janeson’s long-sought dinner cruise.

3. Do well by doing good

Don’t just pay lip service to good works. Put your money where your mouth is. Better yet, restructure your company so that doing good is just as important to your bottom line as doing well (financially, that is). Join the growing ranks of benefit corporations and pocket the PR boost that comes with putting people and planet on the same plane as profit. 

4. Discover the power of influencers

Before they discover a reason to sour on your business. Cultivating relationships with trusted influencers gives your company a sorely needed edge in the fight for public good will. TV and radio are so 20th century — the future is social media influence. 

5. Give plenty of free advice

Your customers have questions. You have answers. And you shouldn’t demand that the former pay for the latter.

This is content marketing’s value proposition in a nutshell. Every time you answer a consideration-stage prospect’s question, you create an opportunity to convert them into a decision-stage prospect. One who’s likelier than not to stick with you when the time comes to buy. 

What sets your business apart?

So, about that hook. You know you need it. Some of your competitors already have it. And every day that goes by without one is another missed opportunity to stand out from the crowd. Now that you have five proven ideas to try out in the real world, your excuses are fading fast. Further delay won’t get you anywhere — action will. It’s time to step up and stand out.

About Janine Lucas'

Recommended for you