How to Differentiate from Competition on the Web

As recent as the late 90’s just having an IT department set you apart from your competition and gave your company an edge, but by the early 2000’s it wasn’t enough anymore. Every business worth its salt had bought computers, built networks, and setup servers. IT had gone from a luxury to an appliance.

In the late 2000’s the same sort of shift occurred in web design. First, just having a website gave you an edge, then it was SEO that put you on top, now it’s social media, community involvement, being human and transparent, or content marketing. Web design and SEO are now standards – it’s what else you do that sets you apart.

How to Set Yourself Apart from Your Competition

If having a great website and search engine optimization are now the new baseline, then how will your company stand out against the competition? The smartest people in the room are saying three things:

  • Humanize your business.
  • Consider your community.
  • Create great content.

Humanize Your Business

Mimi Henderlong of Threadless says, “Staying human creates loyalty,” and part of being human is making mistakes, “Mistakes are OK! Even can bee good.” International advertising firm, gyro, says that people don’t buy from businesses, they buy from people. Consider telling a story about someone who works at your company and make your customer the hero. Be as transparent as possible. Share what your company believes in and why the employees do the things they do. You may have heard that people don’t care about what you know until they know how much you care, but as Simon Sinek says, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Start with why.

Consider Your Community

Threadless is a community-powered ecommerce website that is highly engaged with it’s community, partly because of Mimi’s work, who believes there are four core values of a healthy community:

  • Benefit – What is the benefit to the community? Why does someone join a community?
  • Influence – Do users have influence? Do they know what to do?
  • Belonging – Do they feel like they belong? Do they know what to do?
  • Empowerment – Ambassador programs, elevate members, badges, camps, events

Create Great Content

“I don’t care about what you care about, but you should,” said Merlin Mann of 43 Folders when talking about priority. Merlin is passionate about helping people do more with their lives by doing less things that don’t matter and focusing on doing things that are great. If you focused less on the email that comes in every 4 minutes to the project you’ve been trying to complete for the last 4 months, do you think you could complete it faster? Is the project really a priority if you keep checking your email? Does the project even matter? Merlin Mann says, “If you say ‘yes’ to everything there’s no time to make something great.” And great content is one of the primary things that will set your company and yourself apart from your competition.