How to Stand Out in

a Crowded Marketplace

· Marketing,Small Business,Small Business Owner,Business Growth,Stand Out

“How do I communicate what I do in a way that doesn’t lump me in with others in my industry or go over my customer’s head?” The funny thing is that this question at our latest mastermind caused a round of nodding heads! Seemed like more than half the people at the table struggled with the same thing!

It’s hard! Small business owners grapple with this complex problem regularly! As long as we are just another (Fill in the blank with your functional skill like photographer, business coach, etc.) we are in a race to the bottom with our marketing dollars.

We can’t just be a UX Designer or a Tax Specialist anymore. We have to show people what makes us different. As Mike Michalowicz says…

“Different is better!”​

What extra value do your customers get from you that they don’t get elsewhere?

Here’s how I’ve learned to break it down:

Step 1 - Determine Your Functional Skill

Know what your functional skill is. If you take pictures, you’re a photographer. If you help people solve problems in their business, you’re a business coach or a marketing coach. If you help people get healthy, you’re a physical trainer or a doctor. It’s the skill or product you provide to your client in it’s basic, easiest to understand form.

E. G., a video producer, a photographer, a User Experience designer, an event producer, a business coach, etc. You get the idea. Take your functional skill and put it down on paper.

Step 2 - Features & Benefits

Now you detail out exactly what you’re providing through that functional skill. What benefit is your customer getting from hiring you?

And just write. And write… And write… And write!

This isn’t the narrowing process to determine what major benefit your customer gets, this is the full-length book-long dissertation with every little detail involved. The length isn’t particularly important, I want you to throw-up (not literally!) on the page.

Go deeper than the functional skill of, for example, selling & installing water softeners. Dig into the details of what benefit your customer is getting from that. Even deeper than “water softeners fixes the hard water being harsh on your hair and skin and appliances.”

We live in Central Texas where the water is insanely hard. I’ve found that, having a water softener helps my hair and skin look better on camera without me spending hundreds of dollars at a salon or spa! It adds confidence to my camera and stage appearances, and helps me fall in love with my curls!

What I’m trying to say is….Go further than just “this is the general benefit you receive.”

Step 3 - Narrow It Down

Now, start crossing stuff out of that dissertation. The (eventual) goal is to narrow this down to one sentence (and preferably not one of those 6-lines-long-filled-with-semi-colons-and-other-tricks sentences!).

Cross out:

  • Repeating Sentences

  • Sentences that are “you” focused instead of “customer” focused

  • Sentences that are strictly functional-skill focused

  • Sentences that are jagon-laden (Although, you can re-write it to eliminate the jargon if you want!)

This is where you have to really start thinking from the mind of your customer and figure out what they care about.

Having a detailed Target Market really helps in this instance. It’s easier to get inside the head of a person who you know almost everything about than it is to try and figure out what “Men or women ages 18-60” want!

Learn more about Target Markets here!

Step 4 - Make It Concise

Keep chopping until you’ve got it short and sweet. Succinct. One sentence that speaks to exactly what you do. No jargon allowed.

You can mess around with things and chop sentences together if you want, but this is all it’s supposed to say: this is how I make your (the customer’s) life better.

For example, at Grow Disrupt, “We make real-world business knowledge accessible, easy to understand, and easy to implement to empower entrepreneurs to take control of their business, earn real money and generate disruptive growth.”

Step 5 - Make this useful...

Just the exercise itself is useful! It helps create clarity for you. But when someone asks “what do you do,” most of them are looking for a title or a value proposition to go along with that descriptive sentence you’ve created….

Create a Super Cool Title: Instead of being a business coach or an event producer, I’m the “Disruptive Growth Designer.” Instead of being a sales coach you, you’re the “Rapid Growth Guy.” Instead of being a photographer, you’re the “Visual Brand Strategist.” (Sorry, these examples are already taken! But you get the idea!).

Take the functional skill and combine it with the benefit you bring. Look up synonyms on, grab a glass of wine (or something stronger, no judgement!) and a friend and start brainstorming!

Create a Value Proposition: This is a hyper short sentence that explains what you do in non “marketing speak.” For example, we took our sentence above & turned it into “Design a better business!’

But it has taken a lot of time to pair what we do for our customers down into layman’s terms.

I had someone tell me recently that marketing should be boring.


I agree with her! So many times people try to be so clever and interesting and exciting with their marketing that they set themselves up to fail. The best way to communicate with your customer is: “keep it simple, smart-ass!”

Some Resources...

If you’d like to check out a great article to dig deeper into Value Propositions here!

We discussed this whole thing the other day at the mastermind I mentioned at the start of this article. And if you’re interested in getting involved or learning more about those, check it out here. We’re doing them virtually and live in San Antonio, and for now they’re completely free. For now…

Also, if you’re a fan of Mike Michalowicz’s, there’s a chance you could get in the room and meet him in-person in January! He’s joining us as one of our Speakers at Grow2020, and he’s not the only big-name coming to the retreat. Check out the website and book your interview for the retreat here!

Specifically with regard to the kind of marketing discussed in this blog, you can check out these resources that have turned the process into a science:

  • Mike Michalowicz’s The Pumpkin Plan

  • Matthew Pollard’s Rapid Growth Academy

So there you have it! My whole process for standing out in a crowded marketplace, along with some resources to help you along the way.