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Chinonso Ogbogu: In These Competitive Times, Here Are 5 Ways to Differentiate Yourself As An Entrepreneur



Chinonso Ogbogu

Competition in today’s business has never been this fierce. Therefore, if you fail to consciously and consistently differentiate yourself as an entrepreneur in this competitive times, you are already toast!
So today, I want to quickly share with you 5 simple ideas on how to differentiate yourself as an entrepreneur in competitive times:

Change Your Questions
The questions you ask as an entrepreneur go a long way to influence your overall strategy and tactics for competing and producing results in business.

Your ability to stand out and capture a good size of customers’ customs depends heavily on the quality of questions you ask about marketing, about strategy, about sales, about HR, about everything.

An entrepreneur that asks himself: “How do I sell to 100 customers?” and an entrepreneur that asks: “How do I build a business system that not only attracts 100 customers but that also retains them and turns them into evangelists of our brand?” are both running on different mental architectures and both certainly can’t compete the same way.
Many years ago, Coca Cola was having a terrible time competing with Pepsi and their market share was dropping like mad! They noticed a downward slope in the consumption graph of their customers and it really bothered Roberto Goizueta, the then CEO. His team felt that customers weren’t buying Coke because they were buying Pepsi, so they thought the market was already saturated.
But then one day, the CEO called a strategy meeting and in that meeting, he asked his team a different QUESTION:
“What is the currently ratio of coke consumption by customers to water consumption?” (author paraphrased)
That simple change of question completely transformed the way Coca Cola viewed their market dynamics, racially adjusted their business strategy, and opened up new vistas of opportunities for the company to compete and grow.
Now, back to you.
Are there areas in your business where you have been asking limiting questions that cause you to only see your business in the light of survival or just Naira and kobo?
Then change your questions.
For example, instead of asking yourself, “How do I sell more products,” you can ask yourself “How do I become the go-to, first-choice brand for my customers?”
What that does for you is that it opens you up to start thinking beyond and differently than your competitors.

Be Conversant with Your Customer’s Buying Criteria
Every customer you deal with or will deal with in business has reasons why they buy or want to buy from you or your competitors.

In marketing, it is called buying criteria, and these buying criteria are known to vary with time and conditions.
Most times what makes you want to sell to a customer is not what makes a customer want to buy from you.
If you want to attract new customers or get your existing customers to fall and stay in love with you and not move their custom to your competitors, you need to set up your business in such a way that you can easily and quickly learn what customers’ buying criteria are and move to serve them well.
Few days ago, I had a one-on-one business strategy session with one of my clients. She recently set up a cleaning solution company and I had to work with her to develop a marketing strategy and this issue of buying criteria came up.
For example, she is trying to pitch her business to a prospect and the prospect says:
“Hmm…I don’t think I need a cleaning service right now. The last person I worked with took my money and he never came through on his promise of delivering a quality job.”
When a prospect says that to her, at that moment, she immediately notes it that two of this prospect’s buying criteria are: TRUST and QUALITY. And then that will help her to craft her pitch in such a way that it not only speak directly to the prospect’s buying criteria, but it also differentiates her from other competitors.
But if she doesn’t understand this concept, she may end up spending so much time talking to the prospects about how ‘cheap’ her services are. But that’s not what the customer’s buying criteria are, at least going by just the scenario depicted above.
To stand out in today’s competitive times, you must understand your market’s buying criteria, and how to do that is very simple: Probe + Listen + Note + Learn + Probe.

Make Your Business Process Smooth
Let’s assume you were invited to come make a sales presentation or a demo to a list of prospects who may end up doing business with you. But then, you were not the only one invited. Your competitors were invited also.
So you took samples of your products with you to the presentation venue and also prepared a 50-slide power-point presentation to boot. Now it was time for your presentation and you were taking time to explain to your prospects the value proposition of your product because the process involved sounded or appeared ambiguous or complex. While your competitor, on the other hand, showed up and click, click, he was done with his presentation and left the prospects with sound clarity about what his value proposition was.
What do you think would happen?
Yeah, you guessed right.

Today’s customers want speed and smoothness – not stress.
There is nothing that irritates them more than a business whose process is roughed with bureaucracies, procedures, upheavals, or holdups.

So take a look at your business and ask yourself a simple question: What aspect of my business process should I smoothen to create a better user experience for my customers or prospects?”
When you find it (them), address it (them)… as soon as possible!

Make Your Work Visually Appealing
While it is true that you run a business, always remember that you are still dealing with HUMANS.
And as humans, your customers or prospects still have their basic human proclivities.
One of such proclivities is that customers are mostly influenced by visuals – what they see. As a matter of fact, it is reported that about 70% of humans’ decisions to buy or not to buy are optically motivated.
What that tells you is that your customers want to see things that are fine, organized, and visually appealing.
So offer them before your competitors do.

Be Speedy with Innovative Execution
Don’t confuse this last item with No. 3 idea on Smoothness.
When I say Speed of Innovative Execution, I am actually talking about your market agility or, simply put, your speed of innovating and responding to customers’ ever-changing needs and expectations.
How fast and consistent can you move your customers from their need points to their satisfaction points and then up to their overall memorable experience points?

See, the time frame between old and new in today’s marketplace is shrinking by nanoseconds. So your business must be agile and swift in responding to customers’ ever-changing appetites.
To do that you must have strong innovation culture as well as good market intelligence. You must also be ready to constantly listen to your market more than your competitors are willing to do and then act wisely and swiftly on what your market tells you.

I hope these 5 simple ideas serve you well as you strive in competitive times.
If you have more ideas or contributions to share, please drop them in the comment section.
I will really love to hear what you think.

Chinonso Ogbogu is the CEO of The SM Group. He works with aspiring, young, and growing entrepreneurs to help them develop the right clarity, attitude, structures, and strategies to build profitable, impactful, and successful businesses. You can follow us on or Email: [email protected]


  1. Pleasure to read.

    April 18, 2016 at 11:01 am

    Great advice! Intelligent, smart, concisely put. Thank you!

  2. Prince

    April 18, 2016 at 12:54 pm

    I totally agree. thank you.

  3. Tosin

    April 18, 2016 at 2:56 pm

    Very hot.

  4. Chidozie

    April 18, 2016 at 5:11 pm

    One thing I love about this writer is unlike many coaches I have encountered, he walk his talk.

    Over the years knowing him has been a blessing to me.

    His work ethics are killing.
    He is driven by result.
    He loves to see people succeed.


  5. Ojobe C. Prince

    May 15, 2016 at 10:03 pm

    That’s great, Chinonso. Thanks

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