How To Make Potential Customers Pick You Over ‘The Other Guys’

How To Be DifferentWorldwide, individuals and companies are tightening their belts. They are approaching new purchases cautiously — in many cases delaying, or even avoiding, new expenses.

Consumers and business buyers alike are looking to get maximum value for their dollar. The burning question at the back of every buyer’s mind is:

Why should I buy something from you instead of from your competition?

It’s more important now than ever to differentiate your freelancing business from other freelancing businesses. Differentiating your business is the key to winning clients from competitors.

To do this, you must first discover what sets your freelancing business apart from similar businesses. Once you discover what’s unique about your freelancing business you must express that information clearly and frequently to your customers and prospective customers.

In this post we’ll try to help you with both points.

Discover What’s Unique About Your Freelancing Business

Examine your freelancing business closely to determine how it is different. Here are ten areas to look at:

  1. Are you more experienced?
  2. Are you quicker?
  3. Do you have better customer service?
  4. Are you more accurate?
  5. Are you less expensive?
  6. Are you friendlier?
  7. Do you guarantee your work?
  8. Do you have a unique reputation in your industry?
  9. Are you more available?
  10. Do you have specialized knowledge or tools?

Each of these questions can point to how your freelancing business is unique and possibly better than your competitors. (You can probably think of other questions to use to discover how your freelancing business is unique.)

Don’t forget a final method for discovering what makes your freelancing business unique — ask your customers. That’s right; ask your customers why they chose your freelancing business over your competition. The answer might surprise you and could point directly to what makes your freelancing business better.

Once you determine the unique points about your freelancing business, don’t keep it to yourself. Make it part of your central business message.

How To Convey Your Uniqueness

After you’ve discovered how your freelancing business differs from other freelancing businesses, you need to convey that message to your customers and prospective customers. Here are ten ways to get the message out:

  1. Make sure that your business site emphasizes what’s different about your freelancing business.
  2. Blog about your successes.
  3. Highlight projects that showcase your uniqueness in your portfolio.
  4. Get testimonials from clients that attest to why they chose your business.
  5. Update your brochures and other marketing materials to spotlight the unique qualities of your freelancing business.
  6. Develop an offer that highlights what’s different about your freelancing business. (For example, if you have a good guarantee already, try increasing it.)
  7. Write an e-mail to clients and prospects that focuses on what’s unique about your business.
  8. Remember to mention what sets your business apart when you talk to prospective clients.
  9. If appropriate, consider creating a slogan highlighting the unique aspects of your business.
  10. Nothing speaks louder than actions. Demonstrate your uniqueness through what you do for your clients.

What Do You Think?

What’s unique about your freelancing business? How would you go about discovering what makes your freelancing business unique?

Share your ideas in the comments.


  1. says

    This posts seems like it was speaking to me. The posts highlights key points and indicators that any freelancer should consider when mapping their way in this economic climate. Spot on, Laura!

  2. says

    Thanks Judith!

    A lot of freelancers forget about differentiating their business – but it is an important strategy for success.

    Best wishes for your venture!

  3. says

    Great tips Laura. One time when I was auctioning a template, I was concerned whether the buyer will actually like my design but it turned out that what the buyer loved most is the clean mark up behind the template.

    I was amazed that the buyer actually looks at the product inside and out. I never settled for anything that is half-baked. Just give your best effort and continue on improving.

    Thanks Laura

  4. Bradley says

    Very good points made for both the current freelancer and those considering freelancing in either a part-time or full-time capacity. Success is not guaranteed, but these points help in creating a type of business checklist that can ensure nothing is being missed in keeping or gaining clients. I found this especially informative in light of a June 7th NY Times article on freelancers – “Recession Takes A Toll on Freelance Livelihoods”. What makes one mousetrap different than the others? How well it can deliver on its promises and stay in sight of its potential clients.
    Thanks for this, Laura!

  5. says

    Very good advice, especially the list of questions to ask yourself.

    Differentiating yourself from your competitors can be difficult, especially if you are finding that you need to develop a new skillset to get there.

    I can say from experience, though, that it is VERY worth it. I’ve been working as a sustainable designer for about a year now, and having that little bit of additional training has made all the difference in the quality and quantity of my clientele.

    Before deciding to go sustainable, I took a good long look at what would make me happier as a person. What would make the bad jobs good, and the good jobs better? I think for most people, this will lead you into a niche that isn’t as full as the broad ‘I’m a designer’ (or whatever you happen to be) category.

    I actually just wrote a blog about a similar topic called Asymmetrical Business Warfare and You, if anyone wants to read more.

  6. says

    BTW…cant wait to get ma hands on that book. With your years in experience, am sure its loaded with advice that any writer can easily follow and implement to achieve success :)

  7. says

    Great Comments!

    Bradley, I think I may have missed the New York Times piece. Thanks for pointing that.

    Colin – thanks for sharing your story about how differentiation made a real difference.

  8. says

    Testimonials have always been a big boon to my freelance business. I do work with a lot of small to mid-sized businesses, and the potential clients like to see other similar type/size business’s testimonials. So, not only do I include them on my website, but I also put them into my proposal/quote when bidding a new project. That way, if they read thru page one of “here’s how it works”, page two of “here’s what it costs”, then page three “what past clients have said” will emphasize why this potentially new client should use me. Plus, having it within the proposal PDF document, if it’s passed around to others in the company, the testimonials go with it. And don’t forget, if you have many testimonials to choose from, use quotes in your proposal that will speak to the potential client, if you can.

    Most importantly, ASK for testimonials from clients. They may love love love you, but it might not occur to them to put that in writing for you to use in your marketing materials.

  9. says

    This is Great…..

    If you are approaching to a client for the first time then it is better to have some demo work handy which suites the client’s niche. This will increase the chances of your success.

  10. says

    Great post Laura. I am in the process of trying to move forward with my “celebrating our differences” marketing plan. I think having a science background has helped me as chemistry and food science are difficult subjects to understand and so perhaps the competition is less. We shall see.

  11. says

    I agree, differentiating is very important. In my market, the easiest way I’ve found is just being more professional. Dress nicer, develop better client facing documents (proposals, estimates, etc), answer your phone and emails promptly, act like you know what you’re doing. That goes a long way towards building credibility.

  12. says

    This is a great post, and I love the list of questions to ask yourself. Sometimes I think it’s easy to try to be everything — accurate, quick, experience in everything, when of course thats never the case. Focusing on one special talent is something that really works!

  13. says

    First of all your uniqueness must be intersting for the target group of clients, otherwise noone will notice you and choose as a provider regardless how perfectly you convey your best qualities.

  14. says

    Im a one man band student who web designs and tried pitching to a client who wants someone to hand;e a fairly decent web project against several web design agency’s. He picked me out of everyone else because he said that he liked the way I was honest about being just the one student and he felt as though he’d get more out of working with one person at a more personal level then speaking to several people in a single agency, half not even being relevant to the project itself in. Win :D


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