How to Stand Out From the Competition: 1 Rule You Need to Know

Do you think the internet is good for business? 

Yes! Because everyone can start an online business, and you can essentially access the entire world online. 

But this comes with its own challenge: competition.

Today, you have to know how to stand out from the competition.

But how do you do that? Or how did “the great ones” stand out and come to be where they are today.

Looks like all these entrepreneurs know of one “rule” or “technique” that helped them achieve this kind of success. And that rule is…

Market sophistication

What? Sophistication?

This term is from the book Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene Schwartz. Market sophistication is basically a “term used to describe the level of awareness of your marketplace”.

In other words, how well your competitor products and services are known in the market?

Based on this, market sophistication is divided to 5 levels.

Hello market

This is a beautiful stage to be in. Because you just “invented” a product and you have 0% competition. Just like the first iPhone.

But this won’t last too long because new competitors will pop-up soon.

But how do you pitch your product at level one?

Easy, since you don’t have any competition, you just say what it is. In the case of the iPhone…

“It is a phone, it is an iPod, it is a browser.”

And the rest is history.

If you can be in stage 1, you are really fortunate.

But unfortunately, starting here is really rare.

Bold promises

Here is the end of the “easy days”.

Your competitors took notice, and they are coming. This is where you will need to make bolder promises.

So what you should do at this stage is to focus on the features. 

What did Apple do at this stage?

Apple was smart. And they knew how to stand out.

But if you want to stand, you should do something different.

So instead of saying “our phone has more pixels” to stand out, they named this high pixel display as “retina display”.

Another thing that apple did –

They said that every kid should have an apple after school. 

They also claimed the Apple computer “is easy to set up and learn, and it comes complete with almost everything you need to start computing in one box including a free easy-to-use course.”

They just added more claims.

Here is another example.

Notice! The claim is not just about “reading fast”, it is about “reading fast in 10 days”.

You probably saw a lot of these, especially online.

This is a natural reaction to the competition.

But does this work? 

Yes, it does. For a while…

Until claims get so ridiculous that people lose trust and pass on.

What can you do if the market is at this stage?

Because making a bigger claim would be dumb.

This is where you will move to…

The Secrets

Welcome to level 3.

Where people don’t believe ridiculous bold claims. Because people are too “jaded” and skeptical. In stage, 2, it was easy to make a bold claim.

But now people have lost trust. And you need to back it up.

And how do you get that trust back and back your claims?

You start explaining.

To be more specific, you give a reasonable and believable explanation of how you are going to deliver those results you claimed.

Do you see how it came here?

Level 1 – iPod, phone, internet browser in one device.

Level 2 – Better displays.

Level 3 – You will need to explain what kind of mechanism or technology helps you do that.

In the iPhone’s case, it looks like something like this-

Here is a weight loss pill example.

Level 1. “Lose weight fast”

Level 2. “Lose weight fast in less than 5 days”

Level 3. “This pill blocks the absorption of fat in your intestines, and you lose weight around seven days.”

But does this mean that you need to have your hidden secret mechanism, a secret method or “magical process”?

Yes, you do.

Ok. Honestly, this is not going to be easy.

But, let me show you an example which might help you if you are trying to stand out in a level 3 market.

Do you remember “10 days to faster reading book”?

That was in level 2. What would that book look like in Level 3?

Here it is –

This is completely different. Making crazy claims does not work anymore. But this does.

If “John” bought the book “10 days to reading faster”, he wouldn’t believe the new claim if it is “3 days to reading faster”. But if you make the claim “speed reading with the right brain”, this is what they will think:

“Aha! I was probably reading with my left brain, that should be the reason why it didn’t work out!.”

Ok, don’t take this as advice. This is just a silly example.

This strategy is more “interesting” and it will get the attention.

So, you are not making unbelievable claims anymore; you unleash your secret.

Do you see how this works?

You reveal your technique for success.

Ok, here is another example:

If you know a little about SEO, you are probably familiar with this. 

Ok, this is a great technique and if you dig little more into this, you will know this is all about “creating better content and asking others to link to it”. (ok, there is actually more but…)

Basically, it hasn’t been a rocket since.

But what you should notice is Brian Dean named this as “skyscraper technique”.

This might look like a tiny change but, this is what made it so popular. Plus, when people hear “skyscraper technique” they automatically associate Brian with it. 

By naming it, you put your stamp on it.

But what happens if the market gets crowded by these stamps?

Sparkle and shine

If you saw a weather ad in this stage, it would be something like this –

“Better than Regular Water: Triple-Purified, Vitamin-Enriched, and Super Refreshing, ”

You see, this is like level 2, but instead of features and claims, there are a lot of techniques and secrets.

Check out this –

Just like Level 3, everybody adds on “secrets” or “techniques” adding “features” and “claims” similar to level 2.

And this “Gillette Styler” has 5 of them.

And, if you are “better” you might add 6,  7 or 9 of those. 

But there is something better you can do.

Go to the left when everybody goes to the right.

Do the opposite of what everybody does.

As an example :

This is a 3 blade Gillette. 

Common, boring?

And this is Oneblade.

Pretty opposite, Right?

“The funny thing is, it actually works better.”

Clearly, this stands out!

When everybody went with 17 blades, Oneblade just added one.

But this is not the only thing you can do.

Here is Equine Swartz on this:

“If a competitor has just introduced a new mechanism to achieve the same claim as that performed by your product, and that new- mechanism announcement is producing sales, then counter in this way. Simply elaborate or enlarge upon the successful mechanism. Make it easier, quicker, surer; allow it to solve more of the problem; overcome old limitations; promise extra benefits. You are beginning a stage of embellishment similar to the Second Stage of Sophistication.”

So what does Equine mean?

This means that doing the opposite of what others are doing will get attention but, your product should still be “good enough” doing the job.

Oneblade was able to do this because their product was actually better in some way.

So you should be creative and differ from the competition. And this doesn’t mean making your product worse. 

But you should differ yourself as much as possible. (In some way)

Here is another example:

I bet everybody knows or has seen this car.

Why ?

Back then (in the 1950s) cars were big, bulky, and seen as a luxury. But not this one. 

This car broke that stereotype, and they sold 23 million of them. (this car still holds the world car sales record.)

Here is how other cars looked like that year:

They looked pretty similar, big, bulky and luxurious.

Another option is to go head-to-head.

Have you ever seen something like this:

Oftentimes tech companies use these charts to show how better they were.

This is a good strategy if you are in head-to-head competition.

Probably most known head-to-head campaign was Mac vs Pc – 

So, you will face tough competition. But what if going all in competition does not work anymore?

Let’s move!

Getting personal

You reached level 5! 

Your product benefits will not work anymore.

In fact, it is no longer about your product. (it never really was)

If you want to get attention, your messages should always revolve around your target customer.

Your product must help people reinforce who they are or who they want to be”

Take a look at this:

This is a Calvin Klein ad but –

  • No word about the fragrance
  • No info on how it is made
  • No word about why there are better

But if you are a parent…

It directly speaks to your identity.

How about this:

No, not everybody is a spy like James Bond, but so many men want to be like him.

What if someone prefers Vin diesel?

Or this one:

Nowadays most men don’t smoke but most of them want to be badass like him.

These ads speak directly to identity. 

More specifically, who they want to be.

Apple and Microsoft do this too. If you ask, most people will say “apple is for cool people” and.

“Pc/Windows is for nerds or gamers”.

See the difference?

This level is all about identity.

This can work anywhere, not just cars.

This example is pretty straightforward. Even their name tells who they are for.

The fitness industry is really competitive. But Nerd Fitness founder Steve Kamb knew exactly what to do.

Someone who sees it would be like:

“Hey, I am a nerd, and this fitness training is perfect for me!”

Out of thousands of fitness programs, “nerds” will always choose this one.

Because it matches them and reinforces their identity.

Basically, you want to be perfectly clear about what type of people you are going after. Basically, you aren’t making products for everybody instead you are eliminating others.

And this is it. All market levels.


How do you know what market sophistication you are in?

This is where you need to do market research.

This will be easier than it sounds. Just look at what your competitors are doing.

Are they competing on feature or making competitive claims?

With a bit of research, it will be easy to understand for you since you know all five levels. 

And what you want to do is move the market to the next level. 

But remember, sometimes lines between these levels can be blurry.

The main point is to know a little about each level’s principles and rules. The main point is to understand the psychology of the market in each stage.

And of course, these rules sometimes can be broken, let your creativity work and combine these ideas.

I know it will be easier said than done.

But totally worth it.

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Saleh B
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1 thought on “How to Stand Out From the Competition: 1 Rule You Need to Know”

  1. The thing I genuinely dig about your approach Saleh is the clarity with which you explain the offerings. No potential customer has any confusion concerning the products; they know! Not only that, getting specific drills down enough to where people know exactly what they are getting. What powerful ways to stand out from the crowd.



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