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There’s no denying that the competition is fierce in the world of online marketing. There are millions of websites and advertisers vying for the attention of consumers, and at times, it can feel impossible. How do you make yourself heard when you’re just one voice in a crowd that covers the whole planet?

Fortunately, there are some things you can do to differentiate yourself from the competition and make sure that your voice is the one that stands out.

Find Your Voice

One of the reasons that content can fade into the background is that it sounds the same as everything else. If your content mimics other influencers in your industry, then it might be impossible for your followers to distinguish you from your competitors.

Instead of being bland, try being different. What kind of tone can you use that will engage your followers and set you apart from the other people in your niche? If your customers are mostly Millennials, consider adopting a casual tone that uses slang and conversational language.

Even if you’re in a conservative industry, you can find a way to be different. Think about who your customers are and what tone they are most likely to respond to, and then use it consistently in all of your communication and advertising.

Be Controversial

It can be difficult to take a chance and say something that people might disagree with – but it can also be an opportunity to draw attention to yourself.

Is there a big trend in your industry that you disagree with? Do you like challenging conventional wisdom? Look for some things that are relevant to your audience and then try to shake their perceptions by offering an opposing or surprising view on it. You might even consider playing devil’s advocate to get attention.

If all you ever do is follow along with the crowd, the chances are good that you’ll fade into it. On the other hand, the person who dares to be different is likely to be the one who gets noticed.

Do What Your Competitors Don’t Do

Are you following your competitors on social media and checking out their websites and blogs on a regular basis? If you’re not, you should be.

It doesn’t matter how many competitors you have. The chances are excellent that they are all missing something – something that you can provide to your customers as a way of differentiating yourself. The only way to know what they’re missing is to examine what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. Then identify the holes in what they’re offering and step in to fill them.

This doesn’t mean that you have to offer a product that nobody else offers. What it does mean, though, is that you have to understand your customers and what they need. If the majority of your competitors offer content with a formal tone, you might be able to offer your followers a friendlier alternative.

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Have a Social Mission

When it comes to engaging Millennials, having a social mission can really help set you apart from your competitors. Young people want the brands they follow to care about the world and make a difference.

There are a few ways you can incorporate this suggestion into your marketing. For example, you might:

  • Pair up with a local charity to host an event, then create an event page on Facebook and share information about it with your followers.
  • Create a product that ties into a particular charity or cause, such as the breast cancer awareness pink ribbons that flood the marketplace every October.
  • Donate a percentage of your profits to a cause that resonates with your customers. For example, if you sell clothing you might decide to donate money (or clothing for that matter) to a local homeless shelter.

This type of outreach can cement customers’ view of you as a company that cares about something beyond profit – and that can help you turn people into brand ambassadors.

Use Micro-Influencers

As social media algorithms systematically destroy organic reach, companies are looking for ways to make sure that their content gets seen by their target audience. One effective way to do that is to connect with micro-influencers and get them to share your content.

A micro-influencer is anybody who has authority or reach with your customers. They don’t have to be in your industry to be an effective influencer. For example, if you know that the majority of your customers are interested in a particular athlete, you might be able to get that person to share your content for a price.

Attracting big-time celebrity influencers can be costly, so instead, focus on people who have a following but aren’t likely to charge an arm and a leg to share your content. If the things you share also happen to be relevant to their fans, then they’re probably a good match for you and you can leverage their popularity into increased reach for your content.

Use Humor to Connect with Your Followers

We all love to have a good laugh, and your customers are just as likely to be influenced by humor as anybody else. The mistake that a lot of marketers make is treating their content with kid gloves, assuming that it has to be serious to have an impact.

If you loosen up a bit, you can surprise your followers and get them to think about you in a new way. You can even be a little irreverent if it fits your brand. One good example of the use of humor in marketing comes from the company Hello Flo. They sell female hygiene products, and they made a huge splash a couple of years ago with two humorous videos highlighting their products: Camp Gyno and First Moon Party. The latter got over 38 million views on YouTube because it made people laugh.

Embrace New Technology

In some industries, marketers can be slow to use new technology as it is released. Companies who were quick to embrace mobile marketing, for example, have a leg up on companies who are just catching up now.

It can be tricky to catch trends before they become popular, but don’t be afraid to experiment. If you’re not using things like live video or geofencing, now is the time to try something new – particularly if your competitors aren’t doing so.

You don’t have to jump on every new marketing tool that comes out, but it’s a good idea to add new things to your marketing mix and find ways to shake things up. If something doesn’t work, you can ditch it and move on to the next thing – but at least you’ll have tried. And if what you try ends up catching on, you’ll be one step ahead of your competitors.

The key with all of these techniques is to remember that you have things to offer that your competitors don’t. Use these methods to make sure that your target audience sees how special you are—and the results (and profits) will follow.

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