To differentiate yourself from the competition, today it is no longer enough to be good at your job. By now, the quality of a product or service is practically the basis for staying active on the market. Consumers like you and me have become much more careful about what they buy than in the past, and unless you're selling commodities, it's not the price that makes the difference.
We need more to stand out, something that has more relevance to how and why we do what we do than just what we propose. On this point, Simon Sinek's book Starting with the Why is clear, and if you are looking for your value proposition I recommend that you read it.
Having a clear vision and mission, therefore, is the starting point. But it doesn't stop there.
We may have the highest values, the best offer in this world, the unique and original element that differentiates us from others, but if no one knows we exist, we have a problem.
Especially if you're starting a new business, you can't passively wait for others to notice you and your brand. Because it's not just us. Communication is the lifeblood of a business, large or small. Without it, no one would know what you do. The fact is, your competitors do the same thing too. They use communication channels to promote themselves and increase their visibility.
So, what does it take to stand out from the competition on a communicative level? This is what I will tell you about in this article.
I will do it with my voice combined with that of Elena Bizzotto, dental hygienist and podcaster, who will tell us how she managed to find her differentiating element and transform her communication and her business thanks to the podcast.
Erica Williams is the protagonist of the first Podcast for Business interview. She is a dental hygienist, musician, podcaster, and author of 4 podcasts (spoiler: the fifth is coming).
I had the pleasure of interviewing her during a voice chat at the United States Podcasting Association of which she is one of the founders.
"Erica, how did you come to podcasting, considering your background and your profession, perhaps a bit far from the typical digital ones?"
“I came to podcasting as a natural and inevitable consequence of my background as a musician. Audio is a preferred channel for me and I myself was (and am) a great podcast listener. At first, I approached as a user, until I became podcast-addicted. Car rides and all those "downtime" moments are useful for me to listen to podcasts.
Before telling myself, I start from the assumption that I love my job very much and did not want to change it. I started working as a freelancer without having the slightest idea of how to approach my job with the mindset of an entrepreneur.
In fact, I entered the world of freelance with an employee mentality since at that time I was already working 10 - 11 hours a day, including Saturdays. At a certain point, I realized that I was missing that mindset that an entrepreneur should have.
In particular, I felt I had no skills related to tools or knowledge related to the business world. Loving podcasts, it was natural for me to choose this channel to start tapping into marketing concepts and notions.
Gradually the desire to create something of my own grew in me and I started with a blog. I quickly realized that in the digital world, the site was something completely mine that no one could get their hands on or have their say. It was my digital place.
In reality, writing has never felt like my tool. So something clicked in me that led me to ask myself “but if I love listening to podcasts and talking to my patients, why not start doing it?”.
Often my patients would tell me "Doctor, no one has ever explained this to me as you did".
Here, it takes time to explain things in the medical field. In the digital world, however, we know that social networks run fast and videos must be 20 seconds long. You can't talk about concepts that take time to tell and explain.
I have always tried to use metaphors a lot to simplify and make us imagine concepts. That's why I thought the podcast was perfect!
It was the podcast that transformed me, little by little, even as a professional. My colleagues were then present in the digital world, they used all social channels and worked a lot with video. I on the other hand wanted to differentiate myself from competitors with the podcast.
"I was also the first dental hygienist to use the podcast as a dissemination tool and this aroused curiosity in my environment ”.
" Erica, what were the obstacles you encountered in making your communication choice?"
“I did the first experiments between 2017 and 2018. When I told my patients I had a podcast, their reaction was one of bewilderment. I spent more time explaining what a podcast was and how to listen to them than explaining the subject to them.
I tried to facilitate this aspect, directing them to my site where each episode of the podcast became a blog article, with the audio version inside to listen to.
"In terms of your personal goals, how has podcast helped you improve yourself as a professional?"
It is a great opportunity for personal growth. Absolutely. It would be reductive to choose this option only with regard to the ability of this channel to differentiate ourselves from our competitors.
The fact of having to tell, and thinking about how to do it in a pleasant way, made me even better. In addition, I did a refresher course as a speaker, to gain more fluency and confidence in speaking. Something that naturally came in handy also in all the other areas of my professional figure.
What happened is that, at some point, you find yourself telling what your subject is in your own way. Become unique and personal, and that's where you differentiate yourself from other colleagues.
At first, I explained things differently but I was not aware of it. Making podcasts made me aware that my disclosure is different from that of other colleagues.
Exactly from this awareness, you begin to understand what your strengths are and those in which you can improve.
"What kind of feedback did you get after choosing to use a podcast in your business?".
“The first change was to start saying consciously - and with satisfaction - some good 'no' too. This thing made me feel differently as a professional.
The second is that many opportunities have opened up for me because my goal initially was to diversify my work:
My income no longer came only from my (hourly) work with the patient but from extra activities coming thanks to the podcast.
"What advice would you give to those who now have a freelance and would like to start a podcast for marketing?".
“Get started right away! Is critical!
Today, even more so, there are no more excuses. You don't even have to go crazy looking for tutorials anymore like I did. Above all, if you carry out a profession in which there is already a narrative component - which is even just telling your world - it is worth starting to do so. It is important to be there, to tell and do it in your own way with your own sensitivity, with your own creativity ".
"Erica, we've come to the last question of this interview: do you think you have to be a big company to use podcasts to grow your business?"
I absolutely believe that a freelancer can find a very useful tool in the creation of a podcast. Just think of how many times we answer, for example, a customer's question.
Maybe you get asked this same question often and answer the same thing every time.
Creating audio content that customers can listen to as if they had you there, allows you to optimize the effort.
If you are a freelancer you can use the podcast to tell everyone that you work in a completely different way.
We use our voice which is a very powerful tool to make ourselves known. Our voice is unique and it is undoubtedly a trait that differentiates us from our competition.
On the other hand, those who listen to you do it in a very intense way. When I put my headphones on and listen to these podcasts for hours and hours, I felt transformed. I understood their way of working, and I learn and embrace their values of approaching the business.
To differentiate ourselves from the competition, we can and must work on several fronts. One of them is how we communicate on the web and what tools we use to promote our brand.
Podcast marketing turns out to be a winning strategy, especially if you are a freelancer.