Since the beginning of the global pandemic, the businesses that have given free added value to their clients are the ones who have thrived. This might have been via free services, or by providing useful content and resources while trying to support other small businesses and organizations.

These thoughtful companies have been able to build powerful communities and unique partnerships. They were the ones who positioned themselves as organizations that adapt to a crisis, the ones you can turn to for advice when things get shaky. They have proved they are trustworthy. All of these factors gave them a competitive advantage over others who were more hesitant in adapting to their clients’ changing behaviors and the needs of the market.

Here are a few tips that can help any business do the same.

Practice active customer listening

Active listening is the foundation of effective communication. You won’t be able to create extraordinary services and products if you don’t practice this fundamental skill. Either with your clients or with your team when new ideas about solving a problem emerge, it is key to making progress. Listening gets you to the heart of any issue. You might think you know what your clients need, but you will be able to grasp the full extent of the challenges they face when you start exploring their pains, unmet needs, and desires.

Think of it this way – there is room for improvement: exceed your customers’ expectations, offer free content that is useful to them, or free samples of your products. Pamper their senses with sustainable solutions. That way they can get a better understanding of what your company is about. This is how you build trust.

Admit your mistakes and offer positive solutions

When offering certain products and services, sometimes things go way beyond your team’s control. If you mess up, don’t leave the issue unsolved. If your customers have a bad experience and you offer no solution, they will definitely write off your brand. That could lead to leaving negative feedback publicly, which is difficult to undo. This could result in lost sales and broken partnerships.

Go above and beyond to satisfy the needs of your customers. They prefer businesses that make mistakes and are willing to correct them, rather than the ones who sweep the issue under the rug. You are more likely to keep them as a customer if you address the issue, rather than try to play the victim. Lose the mindset that there are plenty more fish in the sea and this issue is not essential. Every client is important.

Don’t copy your competitors

Start with identifying your true competitors. If you’re a relatively new brand you might think that it is big companies – perceived as game-changers in the field – are your biggest competitors. However, that is often not the case. For instance, in-store brands are not necessarily the leading brands online. Take a look around and explore other brands that are offering similar services and products. Analyze their value proposition and define what can you do better than them.

Don’t try to copy whatever your competitors are trying to do. Finding and exploring the holes in their business model can be a great way to stand out. When offering a product or a service, start with explaining what your mission and vision are. Think about the customer problems for which you can provide a solution.  Try to think whether the causes you support are the ones that they can appreciate.

Effective differentiation from competitors is one of the main challenges that businesses face. That is why only 50% of businesses make it past the first five years and one-third make it past the 10-year mark. Don’t fall into the trap of trying everything your competitors do instead of following your own path and setting new trends.

Read about the promotional mistakes every company should avoid. Need inspiration? From our case studies, you can learn why corporations like Google and Coca-Cola choose sustainable products for their promotions.

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