The golden age of the multi-billion dollar businesses may well be behind us. Startups and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are armed with more resources and investment opportunities than ever before. The freelancers and agencies who work for them are also learning that they can have a place at the business table without being crowded out by the big boys. The issue is no longer whether a small business owner can access the market, but rather if they can get their brand to stand out in the increasingly crowded small business landscape.

In an era where you have 140 characters to get your point across and .2 seconds before the next big update to get someone’s attention, the competition isn’t necessarily coming from larger corporations. In fact, you’re competing with other agile small business brands just like yours. They may have similarly awesome products, approachable staff and, like you, the drive and passion to succeed. So how do you stand out amongst the competition?

Storify your brand story to stand out.

The only way you can show how unique you are in a market glutted with other people with similar skills and backgrounds is to have a darn good story that catches the attention and imagination of your target audience. And that takes quite a bit of elbow grease to perfect.

Discover your story. Everyone has a story and each one is unique. Whether you were traveling around the world when you were first inspired to go at it on your own, or it was in a fit of drunken inspiration at the bar with your pals, you had an experience few people in the world will ever have. For example, the idea to start my own business was hatched over a pitcher of Legend Brown at my favorite college bar. I was spending literally the last few dollars in my wallet, woefully lamenting my lack of expendable income post-graduation, when it occurred to me: I could start my own business. Not exactly the most inspirational moment, but it’s my story.

Know your target audience. Different parts of your story will resonate with different audiences, so decide who those people are before you start writing. Are you targeting investors, potential customers or another audience entirely? Can you speak to your potential customers with one voice, or can you offer different value propositions based on the various demographics of your customer base? Sometimes you might find there’s no need to change your story. Other times, you may find it’s a necessity.

I work with clients who struggle to write an appropriate story, even if it seems pretty straightforward at the outset. That’s because when you try to write something that will appeal to everyone, you’ll inevitably fail. Brands with tight target audiences, such as Isbel —an online community for women to explore intimacy and sensuality — have a great, cohesive story that appeals to their niche target audience.

Other brands, such as Say Something Beautiful, an online community where victims of bullying and harassment can get free help and support at any age, have to divide and conquer. A story about the glass ceiling isn’t appropriate for high school students, nor is a story about hazing for middle managers.  Say Something Beautiful does a great job of honing in on appropriate, relatable aspects of the founder’s story for each audience they hope to attract to their site.

Be authentic. Just because you’re writing for a specific audience doesn’t mean you should leave out key pieces of information. Stories that get traction are authentic, even if they have to be revised for context so the audience can relate. Spanx does a great job of parsing out the story for different audiences on its website. You can see a little infographic if you’re interested in the founder’s inventions, read her full story if you have a little time, or get the top 10 facts about the product evolution if you want the down and dirty version.

Own it. Rarely does someone feel his or her story is “good enough” to share with the world. But trust me, it definitely is. Your business, products, and services stand apart already because there’s one key factor no one else has: You.

This article has been published with permission from its original source.

Khaleelah Jones

Khaleelah Jones is a digital marketing consultant who has worked with tech startups, educational institutions and non-profits on acquisition and engagement strategy, implementation and KPI modeling. When she’s not working, she can be found reading, writing, pontificating history, yoga-ing and making up verbs.
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