If you want to get the recognition that you need to succeed in growing your business, you are going to have to figure out how to stand out from the crowd. Seth Godin tells us, “Remark-ability lies in the edges. The biggest, fastest, slowest, richest, easiest, most difficult. It doesn’t always matter which edge, more that you’re at (or beyond) the edge.” Just how do you get to the edge? First, ask yourself, where are you now compared to the edge? Then try to figure out what you need to do to move toward it. Sounds simple doesn’t it. If it were simple, you wouldn’t be reading this.

What is different about your business? What makes you stand out? What makes people remember your company? Is it an unusual name? Is it an unusual truck paint scheme? Is it the way your employees dress? Is it the way you treat your customers? Is it the niche in which you position yourself?

One way to stand out is to find the right niche; niches give you the ability to dominate a small space, like being the big fish in the small pond. Some use that saying as a put down, but if you are the big fish, then you are eating all the smaller fish. Likewise, in business, as the go-to company in your town, you will get more business than the companies that have not specialized in your particular niche. When you have a heart problem, you want to see the heart specialist, not the family doctor. The same can be true for your business. If you specialize in high-end geothermal heat pumps, somebody who wants one will seek you out as opposed to a company that does everything.

Start by investigating all of your competitors very closely; determine how they position themselves. Start a chart and list the characteristics of their business that they publicize. Create an Excel spreadsheet and as many columns as you need to record it. Make sure you add your own company and your own positioning to the list. Many companies promote quality; they promote expertise, and they may even promote being the price leader. Are you playing follow the leader? If you are, you need to rethink your strategy and find a way to take a different approach. What is unique about your company? What do you do differently than your competition? Why should customers do business with you? Promote your differences. Create a buzz. Become extraordinary.

Examine your successful competition—the ones not attempting to be all things to all customers—and study what they do. Do they appear to be performing better than you are? If you could find one currently underserved niche in your market to target, and to dominate, what would that be for your company? If you narrow your scope, can you find enough work in your niche to survive? If it’s too narrow, you may have to widen your focus to include a large enough customer base to grow your business.

Your challenge is to come up with a unique idea for your business and then put that idea into action. See how far you can go if you correctly market your idea. You’ll be surprised what you can do if you bring your people together and start throwing out ideas.

Your best bet for a good brainstorming session is to hold it offsite, away from phone interruptions. Go to a comfortable location and allow everybody to relax, have breakfast or lunch, and sit around and talk to each other. Start the brainstorming session by outlining what you want to accomplish. Throw out a few ideas and start the discussion. Let your team know there are no stupid or silly ideas. Let your team get creative; you never know what will happen; sometimes, someone will throw out an idea, which will spark another idea, and somebody else begins to refine that idea. I have used this process repeatedly and it works very well. You never know—you just might find the next million-dollar idea.

I am passionate about marketing; I enjoy it, I study it, and I look for tactics and techniques that can increase visibility without breaking my client’s budget. My focus is to help entrepreneurs and businesses more effectively market themselves and grow their businesses without breaking their budgets; does this make me stand out from the crowd? I think the jury is still out on that point, but I can tell you that not many companies are focused on doing it, and that, in and of itself, makes it a niche, and one I am uniquely qualified to fill because of my experience with stretching marketing budgets.

Think about where your passions lie; what do you truly love? People who develop remarkable businesses or products are passionate about what they do and know their customers’ wants and desires. Do you know what your customers want? Do you know how to delight them? Become a student of what your customers want and understand what it takes to delight them. Then use that information to make your company remarkable.

My website contains links to all the marketing articles I’ve written for the HVAC-Talk Newsletter. If you are interested in purchasing a copy of my new book, Navigating the Marketing Maze, click here. If you need a branding consultation, a complete strategic marketing plan, or help with marketing services, call or send an email to discuss your needs.

Andy Fracica is president and CEO of Fracica Enterprises, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in marketing, and social media strategy. He has over 30 years of sales, marketing, and product management experience in the heating ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) industry. He concentrates on helping companies deliver their message in an ever increasingly crowded market by helping HVAC dealers more effectively market their businesses without breaking their budgets. Contact him at 260-338-4554, andy@fracicaenterprises.com or visit the Fracica Enterprises, Inc. website.