The World According to Renee

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One of the questions asked in a copywriter’s brief is: Who are your top 3 competitors and why are you different? (OK, that’s technically two questions…) When asked, one of 2 things will happen: The client says, “Oh, I don’t know” or “blah blah blah, we offer this.”

Let’s take the “I don’t know” statement. If you’re in business and you don’t know who your competition is, you haven’t done your research. As well as copywriting, I work in retail for a well-known doughnut company. Our competitors are other doughnut companies. We’re different because the dough is yeast-based, not wheat, making it lighter and fluffier. We offer different doughnuts than the competition and we regularly change our promotional doughnuts. Recently we switched from regular icing to actual chocolate on the doughnuts.( I know one Brisbane-based doughnut company already uses real chocolate…)

It’s one thing to know who your competition is and something else to know why you’re different. If I’m in the market for wedding photography,  I want to know why I should choose you over Joe Bloggs. You both do pretty photos. You both offer DVDs, negatives, good prices, fast service. What do you offer that he doesn’t?

Knowing your competition is vital for the success of your business. Being different catches people’s eye and draws them in. They will shop with you and keep coming back.

Here are 5 tips on differentiating yourself from your competition.

Have a Special Offer
Most special offers are for first-time customers. That’s fine, but you want return business. Having a loyalty card is one way you keep customers/clients returning. Buy 10 whatevers, get one free. You probably already have 20 loyalty cards in your purse- everything from clothes to coffee. To draw in more customers/clients, the best special offer is giving a discount to the referrer. If they refer someone to you, they get 15% off their next purchase. It’s win-win: you get more customers which covers the cost of the discount.

Guarantee Your Work
Most businesses will have a guarantee. In retail, it’s money back, credit or replacement. In other businesses, particularly those offering services, there’s a 30 day guarantee offering anything from refund to discount to next service free. As a copywriter, I offer 2 free re-writes of any piece you’re unhappy with. The trick here is to have a different guarantee from your competition and one that is both legal and easy to enforce. You don’t want to have long delays and extra expenses incurred over a disagreement.

Make Your Product Different
Recently I wrote for a website about a therapeutic pillow. There are literally thousands of different therapeutic pillows on the market so I had to find ways to convince you that this was The One. I focused on the unique design, the approval by leading health professionals and the price. Blu-tac’s major competitor starting making brightly coloured adhesive globs. Post-It’s major competitor started putting cute animal designs on their sticky notes. The possibilities are endless- think outside the square.

Unbeatable Customer Service
Be polite and go out of your way to ensure every customer has the exact product they want. That’s it. How many people do you know who won’t go back to a retailer because they were rude or had a bad experience?

Be Easy to Contact
The curator of a gallery I know has his phone number in the window of the shop. A customer saw a piece they liked, gave him a call and he was there within a few minutes, even though the store wasn’t due to open for another hour. He made the sale and the customer was very happy. This doesn’t work for everyone as not many people live within 10 minutes of their stores. On your website (and you need a website!) have several ways you can be contacted. Phone number, email address, store location. If you have a smart phone, set up the email so that you are alerted every time a new email arrives. You never know- that email might be a huge sale! Of course, this doesn’t mean you need to answer your phone in the middle of the night, but ensure you have voicemail reassuring customers/clients that you will return their call ASAP (and keep to your word!)

Naturally, this isn’t an exhaustive list. Whatever business you’re in, have a look at your competitors. Look at their websites, go into their stores, have a look at their portfolio, chat with them. Find something they do, and either do it better or come up with something completely new.


October 5, 2010 Posted by | Copywriting | , | 1 Comment