How to Stand Out From the Crowd

By Caroline McQueen

Did you know it takes potential customers less than 3 seconds have an opinion about your business? That’s it! 3 seconds and either they’re into you, or if they can’t instantly tell how you can make an impact on their lives, they move onto the next competitor, never to call on you again.

But what if you’re a new entrepreneur struggling to get your audience’s attention? How do you get those initial clients through the door when they’ve never heard of you before?

The battle for attention

The early stages of the entrepreneurial journey can feel a bit like a catch 22 situation. You need generate sales and get glowing reviews from your ideal clients, but clients won’t sign up to work with you unless you already have social proof. And, what makes it harder, is there ate more and more people setting up solo-enterprises online, so potential customers are spoiled for choice. 

To compensate, some business owners turn to drastic measures in their battle for attention. Like sending emails to people who didn’t opt-in to their list, using scamming sales techniques to get customers to sign up for their programs, or worst still, copying another entrepreneur’s intellectual property - yikes!

As a result, those dream clients hang onto their hard earned dollars tighter than the handle bars of a white-knuckle-ride and only shop with the businesses who’ve already built up their know-like-trust factor. But unfortunately that means new entrepreneurs without that credibility have a hard time building their business.

How to break the cycle

Honestly, getting people to pay attention to you is easy. Jump up and down, or shout loud enough and they will see you. Unfortunately, that screams "look at me" and wreaks of desperation and typically doesn’t inspire folks to invest in your product or service. The only surefire to truly earn the attention (and sales) of your dream clients, is to show them what makes you different to the 99% of other small businesses out there. You do that by creating a valuable personal brand.

This doesn't mean you have to pretend to be further ahead in your business than you really are - quite the opposite. According to Deckers and Lacy, authors of "Branding Yourself”; a personal brand is an "emotional response to the image or name of a particular company, product or person”. 

Traditional brands like McDonalds, Apple, or Pinkberry are popular because they create positive feelings in their fans, even if they also arouse negative feelings in others. Similarly, people have an emotional response when they meet you for the first time. Having a personal brand means you control the emotional response people have when it comes to your business.

Here’s how you can start crafting that response:

1. Collaborate with established brands

Is there another business that’s already serving your audience that isn’t in direct competition with you? How can you help them to deliver an even better service? Working with other brands, or small business owners who are a few steps ahead of you, is one of fastest ways to establish credibility in your field and build that all important know-like-trust factor with potential clients or customers.

2. Don’t compare yourself to others

Imagine if Jimmy Choo went around marketing his footwear as a cross between two rival designers. Would his shoes be as highly coveted? Probably not. People don't like imitations, they love originality. If they know something’s a copy, the only way to convince people to buy it is to virtually give it away. 

Same goes if you compare your product or service to other companies, or make your brand a replica of one with established credibility. You make yours look inferior.

3. Invest time in PR

When it comes to raising awareness for your brand and building trust with potential clients, public relations is a tried and true method for doing both at once. Best of all, one interview or article in a publication can lead to a stream new clients in no time.   

Caroline McQueen is a Brand Stylist and PR Consultant from London. Her startup, Industry Avenue, is a revolutionary hub designed to help creative artists achieve financial freedom doing what they love. In the new year, Caroline will be launching a boutique PR service for entertainment professionals.