Traditional marketing theory states that businesses can gain a competitive edge by adjusting one or more of the four Ps: product, price, place or promotion. The only problem is, your competitors are also using the same four Ps to create a competitive edge against you.

So while the 4Ps shouldn’t be ignored, in today’s highly competitive markets, they rarely give you a truly competitive edge.

Consumers, employees and job seekers are more critical and cynical than ever before, and the marketplace is significantly more competitive.

So, how can you stand out from the crowd and attract more of the clients and employees who are willing to put their reputation on the line and recommend you to others and go the extra mile for sustainable success?

Adhering to the following branding essentials will certainly help you increase your perceived value and worth and stand out in an increasingly competitive world.

Keep abreast of changing expectations

People’s expectations are constantly changing. What they value in you, your products or services, and the way you do business today may not be what they value tomorrow.

Keep abreast of changing values and expectations by reading and researching widely. Actively engage with those you want to create lasting relationships with on an ongoing basis to stay attuned to what they want and expect.

Aim for win-win outcomes

Focus on nurturing a long-term relationship rather than scoring a “win” for a short-term gain. For example, if you know that another business or provider may provide a better all-round solution for the person you are dealing with — recommend them instead.

The level of trust your client or customer will have in you will go up and your reputation will be enhanced immensely. Plus, it’s more likely that you will be recommended in return when you are better placed to serve a client more effectively.

Make it easy for people to recommend you

When someone recommends you, it is not your reputation that’s on the line — it’s theirs. Recommend people whom you are sure will deliver. Make people feel good about dealing with you, and you’ll enhance your chances of being recommended accordingly. Deliver on your promises and focus on building high-trust, high-value relationships. Remember to act with integrity as this will also help you to be recommended more often.

Never badmouth others

Badmouthing your competitors or others hurts your reputation. No one likes a gossip, and news travels fast, especially online. If you don’t have anything good to say, it’s better to say nothing at all.

Never breach the bond of trust

People hire and do business with people and companies they trust. Research suggests that 75 per cent of respondents no longer buy from businesses they don’t trust and 61 per cent urged family and friends to do the same. Clarify expectations and maintain open, respectful communication at all times.

Accept responsibility for your actions

When things go wrong, ensure that the person who is aggrieved feels you are working to resolve things, rather than blaming him or justifying your position. If you’re at fault, accepting responsibility without accusation or blame, and being willing to be held accountable will enhance your reputation. 

Avoid over-promising and under-delivering

Over-promising but under-delivering will ruin your reputation. Ensure the statements and claims you make are truthful, the expectations people have of you are fulfilled and the experiences people have would encourage friends, colleagues and customers to remain loyal and to recommend you to others.

Perception is reality. Your reputation is not what you say about yourself, but what others think of you. Act with integrity and build trust at all times and you will develop and maintain a reputation that will become one of your greatest personal and business assets.