Marketing & Sales

Why It’s Important to Differentiate from Your Competitors [Case Study]

Mike Driver
Written by Mike Driver

When I opened up my first laser tattoo removal parlour seven years ago, there was no such thing as a laser tattoo removal parlour.

Up until that point, if you had a lousy tattoo that you wanted removed or lightened for cover up, you had to seek out a medical clinic that had an accredited removalist working for them. More often than not, the technician had zero experience in the tattoo industry, and no ink to show for themselves. It was a bit like walking into a juice bar and asking for a gin and tonic.

I had experience within the tattoo industry and had sought out laser removal treatment myself, and was acutely aware that those who took their ink seriously wanted to receive laser treatment from someone who felt the same way.

When I first started out, I could barely keep up. I was treating clients who had flown in from all over the country to for laser sessions and it wasn’t too long before I needed to open up a second clinic. Since then, I’ve opened up five boutique laser tattoo removal clinics across Australia, and seen the competition within this industry grow to an enormous scale.

In such a fast-growing industry, I’m often asked how it is that I’ve stayed ahead as a leader in the market. The answer? It comes down to two simple things; reputation and differentiation.

So, how do I do things differently?

In the beginning, this was easy – I was the only one doing what I do outside of medical centres, so opening up laser removal clinics within boutique tattoo parlours was a no-brainer. It was a place that my clients felt comfortable visiting, and better yet, I could partner with some of the most respected artists in the tattoo industry to provide tailored cover-up options for those wanting to lighten up for something new.

Over time, as accessibility to laser removal equipment and training improved, I started to see more and more competitors entering the market outside of the medical space, and I had to put more effort into making sure I was standing out from the crowd.

Location, location, location

A lot of people are surprised the first time they set foot into our flagship parlour in Melbourne.

Our beautiful shop front in Collingwood is possibly the furthest thing you could imagine from a conventional tattoo shop. Our light-filled reception room is warm and welcoming; there are beautiful leather lounges where we can chat to clients about treatment, a healthy selection of plant life and modern art on the walls that we’ve chosen ourselves to create a beautiful space.

It’s not scary, it’s not clinical, and it’s certainly a world away from some of the spaces our competitors provide treatment in.

It’s all about the brand voice

The last thing that our clients want is to feel like we’re speaking a different language.

The way that we communicate with our customers, whether it’s via social media, on our website or via email it is real. It’s friendly, it’s funny, and it’s approachable. We take our work seriously, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously. We’re witty, passionate and a little bit tongue-in-cheek about what we do, and it’s earned us the eyes and ears of people well beyond those who we’ve treated in our clinics.

Currently, we have a social media following of over 56k people, most of which are people who never have, and probably never will receive laser tattoo removal treatment from us. We’ve built ourselves an engaged, organic community through the way we talk and share what we do.

Back yourself, always

At the end of the day, we take a huge amount of pride in our work, and it shows. All of our technicians are passionate about what they do, have experienced laser treatment themselves and build relationships with their clients throughout the course of their treatment.

Laser tattoo removal can be a fickle thing, and many of our competitors have ended up driving business our way due to their lack of honesty when it comes to establishing customer expectations during the treatment. If you know that your staff and your equipment can’t get the job done effectively, you won’t do yourself any favours by sitting a customer through eight expensive sessions over two years without achieving anything at the end of it.

While there’s a huge difference between what we do and what other small businesses might be doing, one thing that we’re certain on is our ability to differentiate ourselves from our competitors; it’s what has kept us ahead. If you have anything to share on how you’ve managed to stand out in a difficult industry, leave a comment below!

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About the author

Mike Driver

Mike Driver

Mike Driver is the founding owner of MJ Driver Laser Tattoo Removal & Lightening, and operates five laser tattoo removal parlours across Australia, including their flagship boutique in Collingwood, Victoria. Mike Driver's success as a small business owner in the tattoo industry has seen him earn media attention worldwide, whether it's a video of him delivering laser treatment on an entire face-full of tattoos, or talking about his incredible success in the world of social media.

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