The great thing about the market in 2017 is that there is literally an audience for everything. The worst thing about the market in 2017 is that every entrepreneur knows this and the days of minimal competition, no matter the niche, are long over. Today, no matter how obscure or weirdly specific your product, you are going to be competing against many others who are trying to grab the attention of your exact audience.

If you want to be successful you have to find a way to prove that your product or service is better than that of your competitors. We scoured the internet looking for advice on how to do exactly this. Here is what the pros had to say.

standing-out-in-2017-tips-from-the-pros

Fast and Reliable Internet

Everything happens online now, and it happens fast. It is no longer acceptable to take even 24 hours to respond to someone’s email. Every email must be read and returned as quickly as possible. Every order must be placed without a glitch and confirmed immediately. The website must be to-the-minute up-to-date. And you can’t do any of these things if your internet is slow or keeps crashing.

To keep this from happening, it is worth paying the extra money for wired internet for your offices and employees. Wi-fi is certainly amazing and is more robust than it used to be, but the more people you have trying to access the same hot spot, the slower it will be. Computers that are literally plugged into the network, however, have a much steadier and faster connection. You can prove this by doing a simple speed test.

You will also want to get the fastest connection possible. Luckily, T1 lines have become considerably more affordable and easy to set up than they used to be!


Backup Your Backups

While we’re on the subject of computers and the internet, get in the habit of regularly backing up your work. For the younger among you, this is likely already a habit. For those who didn’t grow up online, however, this is a habit we have to work to develop. Do not leave anything to chance!

Backing up and saving your work as often as possible guarantees that if there’s a glitch or if something goes wonky in your machine you won’t have to completely redo an entire project. And backing up and saving your work on a secondary and external device (the cost of external hard drives with tons of space is not nearly as expensive as you might think) will save your bacon if your machine completely crashes or needs to be replaced mid-project.


Tell Your Story

Who doesn’t love a good origin story? Origin stories are so well received that Marvel has rebooted its Spider-Man movie franchise three times in fifteen years! Telling the story of how you got the idea for your business and how you went about building your company not only endears you to your audience, it helps make you memorable! As Brian Scudamore recently wrote in the Globe and Mail:

“It’s no coincidence that we all love a good story: our brains are wired to communicate in a narrative format. Whether we’re having coffee with friends or sharing gossip around the water cooler, telling a story is by far the best way to make the message stick…But just because we know we’re different doesn’t guarantee our customers and employees do, too. That’s why storytelling is so important to us: it allows us to construct a narrative that showcases our company values in action. By using specific, personal experiences, stories help us humanize our brand and create a deep corporate history that is easier to convey to our people and customers.”

Note Scudamore’s mention of employees. Your origin story isn’t just important for your marketing campaigns, it is important for your employees. Letting them in on your likely clunky beginnings is a great way to help them feel connected to you and the company you’re building. The stronger that connection feels the more invested in your success they will be.


Reality Is Your Friend

And while we’re at it, work hard to help your business and company feel as real and as accessible as possible across all of your marketing mediums. You hate it when someone overly filters their Instagram pics, right? Why would you add a bunch of filters to your company’s persona?

A great example of this is the stock photo vs. the real photo debate. For a long time, most new startups went with cheap (or even free) photos and graphics that they found in online databases for their marketing materials. You know the ones we’re talking about: the woman with the perfect teeth smiling prettily as she pretends to talk on a headset or the man with rolled up shirt sleeves pointing to a bar graph while a group of other people (in conveniently color coordinated outfits) gazes on adoringly. Yuck, right?

Companies used them because most CEOs and new entrepreneurs liked the polished feel of those photos and graphics. They felt that the extra polish in their visuals would add extra polish to their brand. In reality, all it did was make people feel like the company was trying to hide who they really were.

Then a couple of years ago some CEOs and companies started experimenting and switching out the stock photos and graphics for actual photos of themselves, their crews, their workspaces, etc. The results were astonishing. One company found that using real photos increased their conversions by more than 160%!

Be as real as possible–not just with your graphics, but with everything you do. Sure, hiring teams to help with your content and social media marketing pushes can help you save time and money. Just make sure that the people you hire know that you want to present as authentic a picture of your company as possible.

You likely started reading this article hoping for a few insider secrets and quick/easy hacks to become your industry’s purple cow. The reality is, though, that if you want to succeed and stand out, the best way to do that is to be as present, reachable, real and honest as possible.