Business consultant Bruce Johnson has provided a worthy video on marketing differentiation in a crowded market with many competitors.
The basics are simple:
You want there to be a crowded market. If you are alone” you probably are in a business that no one really needs. If you have many competitors, there is a need. Your challenge is to figure out how to stand out from the crowd.
You need something substantial, not incremental. If your product/service is five per cent different from your competitors (in the area where you wish to differentiate) you will not achieve success. Johnson rightfully observes: “No one cares” about the small details.
You should solve a problem that reflects a client frustration with your industry and competitors. List out all the issues that concern or “peeve” clients by analysing your competitors (and your own business). Then determine something you can do that really stands out that solves the problem(s).
You should pick a problem/solution that isn’t easy to replicate. This is harder to do. It requires you perhaps invest time and resources in the process, and because of the cost, your competitors are less likely to follow you with a quick me-to response.
Ideally, you should have a measurable difference that is meaningful. For example, if you can truly deliver your product/service twice as fast as the competition (for the same price) you have a winning differentiator. (Or even better you could say 2.14 times faster.)
Of course, like most substantially solid business ideas, generally the idea/concept of differentiation is easier to contemplate than execute. You’ll face resistance in making necessary business changes and if your idea is really good but easy to replicate, your competitors will quite quickly catch up. But if you don’t have a differentiation, your marketing will generally fail and you could better save the money you spend on external promotion in improving your experience/service for current clients, to the point that the improvement becomes your greatest true market differentiator.