From a marketing point of view, few things are as challenging as trying to compete in overly saturated industries. At the same time, this can also be enjoyable and rewarding. When you're up against dozens of other competitors, it forces you to get creative. You can't put your marketing efforts on cruise control while you sit back and watch. You have to find new ways to generate buzz and create excitement. It's tough, yet invigorating.

5 Tips for Standing Out in a Crowded Industry

However, for someone who's so used to pushing that cruise control button and letting the foot off the gas, it can be difficult to switch gears and relearn what it takes to create buzz around a product or service. Don't fret, though. Here are some simple tips to spark your imagination and get you back on track.

Use Your Product in a New Way

Everyone loves Play-Doh, but have you ever heard the Play-Doh story? The soft putty was actually developed in the 1930s as wallpaper cleaner. It was effective at lifting coal furnace soot from wallpapers that couldn't get wet. However, everything changed two decades later when the rise of gas and oil furnaces and vinyl wallpaper meant wallpaper cleaners were essentially useless.

So, two decades after its inception, Play-Doh went back to the drawing board. They started hearing stories about how children were using the material as a cheaper, less-toxic form of modeling clay. They immediately added some food coloring and almond scent to the dough and began marketing it to children and schools.

This is a fantastic example of what it looks like to use a product in a new way. While Play-Doh wasn't in a saturated market, they were in a dying one. They found that the best solution was to use an existing product in a new way. As a modern business in a competitive industry, you should be looking for unique ways to use the products and services you're marketing.

Leverage Event Promotions

While internet marketing certainly gives you the widest reach, don't forget about the value of offline marketing. Specifically, you need to pay attention to the value of promoting your brand at events. There's something about getting out and meeting people that's good for a brand. It allows you to hold dialogue and facilitate hands-on interaction between the brand and customers. It's something a lot of brands are forgetting, so it may be an untapped channel in your industry.

Create Useful Content

You don't need anyone to tell you about the value of content marketing. You've read the studies, seen the statistics, and likely invested your own time and money into crafting content for your brand. However, it is important to reassess the type of content you're producing.

Self-promotional content isn't the way to go. Instead, you need to provide value to customers. It's much more effective to create branded how-to content than to create short posts that do nothing but talk about why your business is so wonderful. Customers don't respond to that. They want actionable content with valuable takeaways. If you can create how-to content that connects users to your brand, that's the ultimate goal.

Maximize Reach with Social

The chances of creating a viral marketing campaign are very slim, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't pay attention to social media. Spend a little bit of time brainstorming social strategies, but don't mimic what others are doing. If you want to be successful with social media marketing in a crowded industry, the goal is to do something bold and unique.

One of the best methods for gaining immediate traction is to develop a campaign that involves people and encourages action. We saw this with the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge last year. With so many different non-profits seeking out donors, the ALS Foundation realized that they needed to do something unique to stand out. By developing a campaign that got people involved, they were able to experience overwhelmingly positive PR and results.

Create Value-Adds

Another good way to stand out in a saturated industry is to make your product or service more valuable by including value-adds. These are complimentary products that you throw in to better position your core product. Value-adds can be physical--a tangible product that is placed inside the packaging of the core product--or virtual--access to an online membership site or a coupon. If you can find a way to implement a value-add, you'll see natural separation from the competition.

Cut Through The Noise

It's all comes down to cutting through the noise and differentiating your brand from others. It doesn't matter if you're selling identical products, there's always something you can do to generate buzz, ignite excitement, and successfully market your products and services. Next time you find yourself in a situation where you're dealing with a crowded market, use a couple of these tips to get pointed in the right direction.