Monday, November 10, 2008

Setting Yourself Apart

Some industries are more competitive than others and to the average consumer, it is hard to tell some of the business within those industries apart. Think about the dry cleaners, book store, coffee shop, gas station or even hotels. They all pretty much offer the same product/service as their competitor.

This weekend, I was traveling and had to select a hotel. I went online and in the mid-price level, the hotels all looked pretty much the same -- the rates were within $10 of each other, they all offered a complimentary breakfast, pool, high-speed Internet, etc. I ended up settling on the Country Inn & Suites, just because I hadn't been there in a while.

When I arrived, something really stood out to me that I hadn't seen before at a hotel - imagetheir Lending Library program. In the bookshelves surrounding the fireplace in the lobby, they had books available that were geared towards all ages. A simple sign explained that you were welcome to pick a book to read, and if you didn't finish it during your stay, go ahead and take it with you and just return it the next time you visit a Country Inn & Suites. What a nice idea!

This program probably doesn't cost a fortune, but it was a nice surprise that I will remember - and for me, will separate this particular hotel from the mass of other hotels in the mid-level price range.

As an entrepreneur, this is exactly how you need to think. Your mainstream product/service has to be competitive, but then try and look to see how you can offer a unique perk or something unexpected that the customer will take away from their experience.

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