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    Business RiskAs a small business owner or solopreneur, you are in constant war with your competition for the attention and loyalty of a (sometimes-small) consumer group. Larger companies may have the resources and capacity to roll out massive marketing campaigns, but it takes lots of creativity and hard work to make your brand’s voice heard.

    To wage war successfully, one has to come up with clear strategies and goals. The best leaders understand what their main goals are and work to develop the tactics that will get them to achieve the goals. They are also flexible to adapt to changing market needs, and will change goals if need be.

    Here are effective strategies to aid you out-think your competition, large or small.

    Take risks

    In order to grow and reach your goals, you have to be open to taking risks, like sharing and marketing content in ways that many in your particular field or industry won’t use. Take the example of Fiat, the car maker that used Charlie Sheen—a popular sitcom actor who’s had his fair share of behavioral problems and was even fired from his own show—to successfully endorse their product.

    Now, many companies would not want to be associated with such an actor who at the time had a dark shadow cast on him, but Fiat took the risk and it paid off.

    Not all risks will pay off, but you should be willing to move out of your comfort zone if you want to make an impact.[tweet this]

    Be unique

    Being unique extends to all aspects of your business, from marketing and communication to packaging and delivery. Email marketing is also an integral part of a strong marketing program, and you should take advantage of it, but do it in a way that sets you apart. If it’s packaging, come up with creative designs that set out your products from those of your competitors. You wouldn’t mistake Oreo’s cookies from any other at the supermarket counter because the packaging is unique and stands out, even from several feet away.

    Lower your production costs

    This applies to product-based companies that have to find a way to produce quality products without breaking the bank. Finding low-cost suppliers is what drove many U.S. manufacturing firms to outsource to Asia and other far-away lands. If you are willing to put in the effort to reduce your production costs, you will find a solution.

    Take on a challenge

    In many organizations and industries there are ideas and technologies that many people avoid because they are viewed as challenging or difficult. If you are willing to expend the energy and time required, take on these challenges and become the unquestionable leader in your specific area of expertise. Apple set the bar for touchscreen phones when every other technology player thought touchscreen technology was a pipedream.

    Find out what customers want

    It’s surprising that a lot of businesses don’t have a deeper understanding of what their customers want. Take the initiative and visit retail stores to find out how customers interact with various products. Listen to what they say about the products and services they use. Read online product reviews to gauge interest and the shortcomings of other businesses.

    Based on your research, you can point to the number of issues raised by customers and aim to fill the gap(s). By listening to exactly what the customers want, you can fulfill those specific needs.

    Hire Right

    The human resources that are key to your brand need to have an intimate understanding of what makes your brand unique. The people that “are your brand” have more of an impact of how your brand is expressed. Internal marketing is even more important than external marketing. Have a way to acclimate new team members to your brand culture and know how to identify if they don’t have a firm understanding of it.

    Through risk taking, a proper analysis of your customers, striving to be unique and taking on challenges, you will be able to outsmart your competition and rise above them.

    Maria Elena Duron is a Marketing Coach and Strategist with Know, Like, + Ignite and @mariaduron on Twitter. Would you like practical tips to create and curate content and experiences worthy of being passed person-to-person? -Get exclusive access.

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