It’s tough standing out in a crowded and competitive marketplace. There’s so many businesses offering the same services. Everyone has access to the same internet, the same social platforms, the same marketing tools, and online advertising platforms. So how do we make our clients choose us and not our competitors? Well, that all comes down to finding your unique point of difference, the important thing or things that make you stand out from the rest. And if you’re wondering exactly how do you find that?

My guest today is one of the lovely working moms that I met on a recent business retreat. Kristal Spencer is the co-founder of Winestains, an amazing business located in the lovely Barossa Valley. Now, she started a business with her dad creating products from used wine barrels. And the property management industry has probably emptied a few of them, I would imagine. They eventually niched down into cheese boards and platters and as you would all know, a market saturated with competition, who doesn’t love a cheese board. But using a combination of finding their unique points of difference, developing a customer experience and learning to pivot, they’ve created a business that is able to charge premium prices.



‘I’m in business with my dad and we handcraft grazing boards and picnic products all from recycled wine barrels that we source from our local wineries. And I guess we’ve been going for nearly 11 years now. Six years full time, 11 years to get to where we are today. And it sort of just started as dad really was a winemaker, he had a problem with some of the wastage within the wine industry, so he brought a few barrels home and started making some pieces. And that’s when friends and family saw what he was creating and wanted one. It sort of just stemmed from there.’



‘This was a huge thing for our business to get us from where we were, which was literally simple markets to where we are today, which is stocked all around Australia. We mainly sell online. So finding our point of difference is a big thing because like you said, there are a thousand different, cheese boards out there that are more accessible than ours, possibly they are different price points than ours. So finding our point of difference was a massive thing. So we basically focused on the fact that a few things actually, one, that we are a father and daughter team. We are Australian made and owned. We are sustainable and conscious. And basically the core thing is that we are a hundred percent made from recycled wine barrels, all the materials that we use. The other thing we did was work on the fact that we like to give back. So one design sold equals one tree planted. So there are a few point of differences, but we had to really hone in on that aspect to get to where we are today.’



‘That’s actually something we’ve implemented in the last 12 months, which has been amazing because so many of our customers are obviously wine lovers, which is why they tend to gear towards buying our products. So with every design that we send out, they get to find out where the original wine barrel that that specific design originated from. So it’s another great opportunity find out about different wineries and the place that we’re from around the Barossa, that gives a little bit more meaning and substance to the item that they’ve purchased as well, which we think pretty cool.’



‘Well, something that we did, which I feel can be across the board, which might be really handy for your listeners is, two thing, the first thing we did was simply to just ask our current customers. We surveyed them about what they liked about us that they didn’t like, why we were the best choice for them, and just getting their feedback and answers, which was really helping us to hone in those points of difference and what we should focus on when we’re marketing and telling our story. The other thing we did was to be a bit of a detective, and that’s basically like checking out your competitors, noting down the differences between you and them, and getting a clear picture on how you stand out from them. I mean, it could be as simple as a price point. It could be your brand personality, it could be your values. There’s so many things that you can really hone in on. I feel like once you are able to define your point of difference, you can just talk directly to that person and it’s just a game changer in how you basically end up selling your product or service.’



‘So when we first started, what we did, we produced every product under the sun. So we did grazing boards, we did picnic products, we did furniture, we did lights. So really defining our point of difference and also, I guess niching down in who we are, who we served and what we created. So we now predominantly just make grazing boards and we focus on that aspect with the point of differences and how we really niche down into our specialty, to be the go-to brand for what we do in our field. So I guess being able to talk to our customers, understanding what they wanted, understanding why they came to us was a really, really big thing, and I guess just really honing in on that specialty.’



‘That also comes down to when you’ve done your research, when you’re looking at your competitors and how you are finding that point of difference. We are premium and those point of differences allow us to do what we do and charge, what we charge, because, we are the experts in the field and the best at what we do and what we produce. It’s also because of the materials and things that we use as well. That point of difference alone has, you know, allowed us to be sought after by particular retailers and stockers.’



‘That’s a really interesting question. There’s a lot of things I’m doing at the moment. The first one, in the interim, is I’m developing another stream of income through a digital course that doesn’t have to heavily rely on my dad, to physically make these products. So that’s one thing. The other thing is also honing in our business. So we’re niching down even more into specific areas of product that we want to focus on so that we can maybe train some other people up to help us make these products and dad can step back. There’s a new sort of idea in the pipeline in regards to what, we could possibly do moving forward, which I haven’t yet formulated a hundred percent, so I won’t go into that. Pivoting is a big thing. I know that when Covid hit for us it was a massive change. We predominantly wholesaled out our products and when Covid came along, all the retail shops and things were closed, so we had to pivot like there was no tomorrow. It has changed how we structured our business to be able to sell more online and have that online presence versus having the stores be that, that face for us.’



‘A big thing for us is our customers, and especially I guess with the higher end product, we want to be there for them whenever they need. And for us, a really big thing is even after a sale is made, we really want to continue nurturing our customer. You know, after that as well. It’s not just about, yes, yes, yes, let’s get a sale. I really like continue that relationship with them. So for us, a lot of it is done through email communications, and also through social media as well, but especially with email communications it is a big one for us. I have set up specific automations within the business so I can nurture my customer post service. Like, for example, if they do buy a cheese board, you know, I, I show them how to maintain it, if they’ve got any questions they can get in contact by email and reply to us. It’s just letting them know that we’re there and we’re available to help. So that’s a big thing for us within our business.’



‘You want your customers to feel like you are there, but also being able to automate on the business side, being able to automate what you do in your business and nurturing that way frees you up and allows you to do more for your customer because you’re not in your email 24 7, like replying to every single email or, you know, it’s sort of like that streamlined process. So it gives you that time and freedom to nurture them in other ways as well.’


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