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Standing out in a crowded marketplace is a challenge familiar to nearly every business owner at one point or another. No matter the size of the business, the industry or the geographic area, competing for customers' attention can feel like an uphill battle. Even if your business is the only one of its kind in your region, a hurdle you still need to overcome is the sheer number of distractions that can prevent your customers from learning about you, finding you and taking action to engage with you.
That's why it's crucial for every business to present a website that attracts customer attention — and entices visitors to engage with your business. Here are three ways to help your website stand out from the crowd:
Your unique selling proposition (USP) is what makes your business different from competitors. For some businesses, it may be hands-on service or the latest fashions or unusual menu offerings. Understanding your own USP helps you communicate it on your website as well — making it easy for customers to see the difference. Ask yourself what makes your business unique, and then showcase that on your website.
Whilma's Filipino Restaurant, one of the six businesses selected for a marketing revitalization during Season 4 of Small Business Revolution, serves authentic Filipino cuisine. While most diners in Searcy, Arkansas-based restaurant are unfamiliar with the traditional dishes that chef Whilma serves, it's the unique menu that often attracts new customers — and keeps them coming back for more.
To entice adventurous eaters and people on the hunt for an authentic Filipino meal, Chef Whilma and the Deluxe team decided to build a website that would showcase the restaurant's offerings and provide information on Filipino cuisine and culture. These elements were what made the restaurant stand out from competitors.
Pro tip: If "low prices" is the only unique selling proposition you can come up with, it might be worth revisiting your products and services. Customers do want low prices, of course, but if two businesses feature the same pricing structure, then other aspects of your business — excellent customer service, the variety of inventory, certain areas of expertise, being minority-owned, etc. — can nudge you ahead of the other guys.
While it's important for an entrepreneur to perfect an elevator pitch — that is, your 30-second encapsulation of what your business does — it's also crucial to ensure your website expands upon that elevator pitch and tells the entire story of your business.
Take Today's Beauty in Alton, Illinois, as an example. The shop is black-owned and black-operated, and it focuses on beauty supply products for African-American consumers. That's its USP. But visitors to its website learn even more about the full mission of the business: Today's Beauty wants customers to look their best, feel their best and do their best. In fact, community engagement is a large part of the shop's reason for being.
To that end, the store's website points out that the beauty supply shop also houses Today's Place, a dedicated space for community service and education, including mentoring, tutoring and other events. By telling the whole story of Today's Beauty, the website attracts visitors with its USP (beauty products for black shoppers), then entices them to interact even more through participation in the store's community events.
Pro tip: Your USP is a crucial part of your business, but it's only one aspect of it. Don't hesitate to create additional sections or pages on your website that use easy-to-understand text and photos to expand on what makes your business different from others.
Sometimes a business inadvertently obscures the one thing that inspires customers to seek out that business. When taking stock of your unique selling proposition, make sure you're focusing on what truly sets you apart. In some cases, it might be hiding in plain sight.
Morrison's Irish Pub, another of the six businesses given a marketing makeover during Season 3 of Small Business Revolution, struggled with maintaining consistent foot traffic. While authentic Irish food and a wide variety of imported beers were two of the pub's selling points, the eatery also boasted an enormous selection of more than 60 Irish whiskeys. Or, rather, it didn't boast about that. Despite the owners' expertise in Irish whiskey, and despite the fact those whiskeys had higher profit margins than anything else on the menu, Morrison's was downplaying the fact that it offered five dozen whiskeys to choose from.
As part of the pub's marketing revamp, the Deluxe team created an easy-to-read whiskey menu and prominently featured the whiskeys on the pub's new website, social media pages and online listings. Being a true taste of Ireland — including the entire spectrum of Irish whiskeys — was Morrison's unique selling proposition, and now they were broadcasting that USP front and center in their online marketing. As a result, they were able to generate more customer interest, which led to increased foot traffic.
Pro tip: What do you want potential customers to understand about your business after just a few moments on your website? Ask friends or family who have never been to your website to look at it for five seconds. If they can't determine your USP or your most important products or services in that short span of time, that's your cue to change the way your website communicates with customers. A strong website is a must for every business. But not just any old website will do. Make sure your website sets you apart from the competition and garners the attention your business deserves.