t’s a hard question to answer, but you’ll need to grapple with it over and over again. Because let’s be honest: As soon as you start a business, you are competing in a world of noise. There are competitors to differentiate yourself from. Marketing channels to stand out in. Social media platforms to gain audience in. You have signed up for a non-stop marathon of gaining attention and building momentum and competing for your consumers’ precious time — and you cannot even begin to succeed in this race unless you commit to answering this question.
So once again: What makes you special?
The answer may surprise you. You might think it’s a particular product or feature or branding scheme of yours. But if you talked to your customers — really talked to them — you might discover that it’s something else. Maybe it’s how your brand makes them feel. Maybe it’s your empathetic customer service. Maybe it’s the way you deeply understand your customers’ needs. Maybe it’s just you, who people like and feel good about supporting.
Related: 3 Ways to Stand Out from Competitors
Whatever the answer, that’s why we’ve put together this issue of Startups. We want to get you thinking about your own uniqueness, and how to turn that into the most impactful marketing possible.
You don’t just want to tell your story. You want to tell the version of your story that people most want to hear!
In this issue, you’ll find lessons and case studies on how to do just that. For example, you’ll learn how the brand Liquid Death has thrived in the ultra-crowded drinking water space. (The answer, in short: Embrace dumb ideas.) You’ll see how a dentist with no celebrity connections transformed herself into a “dentist to the stars.” (It’s all about the hustle.) You’ll also get an important lesson from an unusual death care startup, which will inspire you to examine exactly who your customer base is.
And there’s so much more. As you’ll see, every story in this issue can be summed in in two words: Look again. People thought they knew what worked. They thought they understood their audience. They assumed something would be easy and straightforward. And then they learned that, to really get it right, and to really stand out, they had to look again.
So look again at that question: What makes you special?
Now start turning those pages!