When competition is fierce and the market is crowded, consumers often feel like they are bombarded by more marketing messages than they can remember, let alone fully process. After a while, most vendors start looking the same. Potential clients see the professional photos and read the promising value propositions, but without a strong differentiator, marketing messages all start to blur together when things get repetitive.
For example, an engaged couple seeking a local photographer may see posts and ads from five different companies when scrolling through Instagram—how can they make a smart purchasing decision based on brands that (in their eyes) look remarkably similar?
The truth is that consumers look for differences when browsing options in the marketplace.
They want to learn more about the businesses that stand out from the crowd, the ones that have the glowing reviews and distinctive brand personalities. So, how can an event business truly stand out from all the Internet noise?
Well, it starts closer to home than you might think.
Start with your market presence.
You can’t fully understand the influence your competitors have on the marketplace unless you first determine how you’re performing in the market. Do a deep dive into your own brand reputation and the strengths and weaknesses that impact your success. Which areas do you shine? Struggle?
If you’re not sure how to identify these qualities, start by looking through your online reviews and testimonials from past clients. What do you get praised for most? What is your biggest criticism? This raw feedback will reveal the areas in which you can stand out from the crowd, rather than blending into a sea of sameness amongst competitors.
You can also turn your attention to the frequently asked questions you get in emails, DMs, or consultation calls. What do people expect from you? How do they want your help? If your prospects and clients are consistently asking you for nearby activities for guests, you may consider leaning into your burgeoning role as a local expert in your market.
Determine market parity.
Once you’ve gathered enough feedback to evaluate your own place in the market, it’s time to shed light on where your competition stands in comparison to your business. You can do this in a similar fashion to your self-assessment, looking at reviews for key strengths and weaknesses that stand out. To do so, skip the company websites (which are typically curated to put their best foot forward!) and head straight to third-party review sites, like The Knot, WeddingWire, Yelp, and any local forums in your area.
It shouldn’t take long for some insights to rise to the surface. You’ll likely find that you share some strengths with your competitors, which is to be expected. Perhaps you both provide top-notch customer service. Maybe several venues offer stunning views of the local scenery. This is called market parity, and it’s what creates consumer expectations within a certain market. Potential clients have come to expect the same level of quality across the board, no matter which brand they end up selecting.
Since market parity is about similarities, it’s important to promote these qualities to ensure your brand measures up when people compare it to others. However, it’s not what will set you apart and allow you to stand out from the crowd.
Identify your competitive advantage.
Now, your competitive advantage is where you can start to distance yourself from competition and carve out your distinct role in the market. It’s what allows consumers to discern your brand from others and, ultimately, choose your business because of its unique value.
Revisit your self-evaluation and competitive research to identify the areas in which you’re strong but are weaknesses for your competitor’s (or are never mentioned at all). Do you boast special industry connections with the best venues in town? Are you a niche subject matter expert? Consider what you can bring to the table that isn’t already offered by others in your market. This is where the real money comes in—people will not view you as a commodity but, instead, a one-of-a-kind brand experience that they cannot get elsewhere.
To maximize your competitive advantage, start working these strengths into your content marketing strategy and providing valuable resources for your target audience. Create blog posts and social media posts to promote the qualities that set you apart from other brands. Develop your thought leadership strategy around these topics, reaching out to publications that engage your ideal client.
By doing so, you’ll fill the gap in the market with your brand and effectively rise above competitors who have not (and perhaps cannot) speak to those areas. When a prospect searches for that one special thing you do, it will be clear to them that you lead the market in that area—whether that’s a florist that specializes in importing luxury blooms, a photographer with a specific style, or a designer with access to all of the best rentals.
While you certainly shouldn’t lose sight of market parity, your competitive advantage is where the money and the magic lie. Turn your brand’s unique strengths into your biggest value propositions and you’ll earn the market recognition that you deserve, serving your ideal client with exactly what they’re looking for.