Softwares can help a lot of people in many different ways. Which is another way of saying, there is an infinite number of replacements for your product. Venmo does the same thing as Paypal, Mailchimp does the same thing as SendGrid, Freshbooks does the same thing as Quickbooks, and Notion does the same thing as Asana.
How do you stand out? You decide to help someone specific.
If your software can help anyone, then you have your pick of the litter and can make the decision to build something special for someone.
"But won't I get bored or lose the opportunity to expand?"
Doubtful. There is so much hidden need for specific user groups that the list of new features and ideas to make your ideal user's life easier are endless. Plus, you can always expand once you've exhausted your initial market or duplicate your tech for another market with slight modification.
Doing so makes you irreplaceable, makes it easy to market and sell, and makes it easy to build an awesome brand. Why? Because you are able to focus rather than constantly chasing shiny objects.
It takes courage, but if you can answer the question, "who do you want to help?" Building your brand will get immensely easier.
I was shopping at Smart and Final yesterday. While standing in line, I looked down at the placements stickers for social distancing. They said two things: "please stay six feet apart," and "we know you have many options, thank you for choosing us."
Next, when I was in line, the cashiers had done their job so well that they had eliminated a lengthy line entirely. Their manager came out and congratulated his team.
What's the big deal?
For one, this store took things that seem small and superfluous and made them something special. This could also be done with the welcome letter for a newsletter subscription, or cards sent to say thank you to clients, or phraseology around being open or closed. The point is that they put an authentic spin on it to make it memorable and relevant to this brand, when they could have just passed over it without much care.
The devil and the angels are in the details.
You choose who it is.
There's a two-fold mission to this statement: one part applies to your startup's value proposition/unique selling proposition and the other pertains to the brand (how your startup makes people feel).
In short, you must know what is out there so you can create something that stands out. Let's break it down using the categories listed above.
Most startups will resort to "lowest price" on this point, but we can do better than that. Instead, ask yourself what are the alternatives to your product and what do they lack that your customers need? Sometimes it's as simple as a better interface or a different distribution method (i.e. Dollar Shave Club going subscription for razor blades). This should indicate what the big selling point of your product is or at least inform you of what is lacking within your competitors. From there, you can adjust your messaging to hit on the specific pain point your customers are looking to ease.
No two companies are alike in nature. Not even if they are in the same industry. Guaranteed, there are cultural nuances and quirks within every company that make them unique and special. Frankly, most of them hide it behind a professional demeanor and an unwillingness to be human. So, your goal is to assess your competitors personalities and find a void to fill. If the majority of them come off as stoic and cold, you have an opportunity to be friendly and vulnerable. Granted, you have to know yourself, since you can't put on a false identity in the hopes of attracting people.
These two bits of research can inform almost every decision your company should make in marketing itself. They give you the reason people should buy your product and why they won't forget you.