As a designer and product based business owner, you are always looking to do things a bit differently from everyone else. Your unique style and design brain are what continues to draw people to your products (which is why I can confidently say that all those copy cats out there will inevitably fail!)
Whether you sell stationery, mugs, home decor, jewelry, pillows, apparel (or any of the other thousands of kinds of products out there) you don’t want to be seen as too similar to the competition because similar generally equals forgettable. Today, I’m sharing 5 strategies to help you set yourself apart from everyone else so you can grow your tribe of followers and scale your business!
1. Offer a Different Point of View
While there are probably lots of people selling a similar product to yours out there in the marketplace your designs and the heart behind your business are what will set you apart from the competition. Prints are personal, and while your unique perspective and designs may not appeal to everyone, the people who they do appeal to will love you HARD. For whatever it is that you sell, create a unique selling position and live and die by it.
Your USP this is THE thing that makes your brand and products unique. It’s a selling point that garners attention and gives buyers and retailers a reason to pick your products over the competition. This may be as simple as Made in the USA, Fair Trade, Made with 100% Recycled paper or as complex as a witty brand tagline. A great example of an awesome USP is from my friend Aubrey Mathis, owner of Today May Suck. Her line of stationery and gift items allow people to support for loved ones going through a difficult time by acknowledging that their current situation is indeed, sucky. Her branding includes lots of lemons and now, whenever I see a lemon I immediately think about her products!
Whatever your USP, be sure to stick to your roots. It’s tempting to get caught up in design trends for the sake of sales. For instance, pineapples have been a big trend and seem to be everywhere lately. If this trend speaks to you, by all means, find a unique and creative way to incorporate them into your designs! If pineapples aren’t your cup of tea stick to your brand story and skip them. Sometimes it takes not doing something to stand out from the pack.
2. Develop a Cause Related Marketing Strategy
Bottom line: giving back feels good! Another awesome way to set yourself apart from the rest is to incorporate cause-related marketing into your overall business strategy. Running a promotion that benefits a local charity will help to build your brand recognition while helping your community. Have a line of puppy notecards or leashes? Why not donate a portion of the proceeds to your local shelter. Find the cause that’s closest to your heart and create a campaign to support it.
3. Narrow down your niche and Brand the ish out of it
When you try to carry products that would appeal to everyone you will inevitably spread yourself thin and end up with an assortment that doesn’t make sense and looks hodge-podge. While it’s tempting to keep adding products to your assortment it’s much better to start small and be known for that one thing. Like how Emily Ley is known for her planners or Sugar Paper is known for their clean and simple aesthetic. Identify your strength and let that be the foundation for your brand.
If you’re a stationer and someone asks you about your business, do you say, “I sell stationery” or do you say, “I sell snarky and sarcastic cards and party products” You should be shouting your business's unique selling position from the rooftops! By talking about what you are known for you are positioning your brand and products as special which will also help to leave a lasting impression.
5. Be legendary (and create a memorable experience)
I’m sure you’ve heard a story or two about some serious customer servicing from retailers (like the infamous Nordstrom tire story) While you don’t necessarily go this extreme there’s a lot to be said for your customer’s experience. From landing on your website to their shopping cart, to fast shipping and being easy to get in contact if an issue arises you want your customers + buyers to be so blown away by the process of purchasing your products that you are top of mind when they are ready to make their next purchase.