When you own a business, one thing you should be asking yourself (repeatedly) is, what makes my business special? And why is it so important that it is special?
Let me answer the second one for you. When you differentiate your business, people remember you. When they remember you, they spread the word. And no other type of marketing campaign can ever replace the impact of the age-old strategic “word of mouth.”
So how do you create differentiation?
You know you want to be different. You just don’t know how to get there. That’s why many business owners come to me. I’ll share with you a bit of what I tell them:
Step 1 is to Know Your Competitors.
You need to know your competition in the marketplace. That’s not only knowing what they provide but how they provide it as well. So often we think we’re unique, and then find out about other businesses who’ve been doing what we’re doing for years.
Getting to know your competition isn’t rocket science, but it does take work. You can glean information in a myriad ways:
• mystery shopping
• speaking to their customers or suppliers
• perusing their website
Step 2 is to identify the signature element of your offering that makes you stand out.
The key to identifying a signature element is that it must separate you from others and provide a product or service that your customers will find to be valuable.
Let’s talk about some examples of standing out through differentiation
Tim Alman of Sierra Western Homes Loans makes house calls.
He has found over the years that the best way to understand a client’s goals and to find a good match for them is to sit at their kitchen table and comfortably discuss this important transaction.
The Counter Burger is a group I helped during a start-up a few years back. Their differentiation was the vast number of different ways to eat a burger – over 300,000 combinations.
Dominoes Pizza is a big, recognizable brand. How do they differentiate? They don’t even promise a pizza that’s going to taste good; they simply promise you’ll get the damn thing in under 30 minutes.
Key tips to create this differentiation
• Focus on the buyer not on yourself
• What are their pain points?
• What will you solve?
• What can you deliver to better than anyone else?
• How will they remember you?
“Your brand is formed primarily, not by what your company says about itself, but what the company does.”
“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
~Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com Founder & CEO
Differentiation is about HOW you deliver your service. Now, let’s discuss WHY you do what you do.
So you’re different. But how do you know if your customers love you?
Would you like to find customers who are indifferent to cost, quality or convenience? How about clientele that buy repeatedly from you? What about customers who voluntarily rave to their friends and colleagues about your product or service?
These customers are what you want. They’re your raving fans – or your promoters.
The natural question is how do I compel more of my customers to be promoters?
The leading theory for creating loyal customers comes from Simon Sinek’s Start With Why. Most companies can articulate what they do and how they do it, but they usually cannot articulate why they do it.
The “why” provides an emotional connection with prospects. Customers make buying decisions emotionally and justify them logically, therefore articulating your WHY is critical.
Let’s look at a couple examples of company WHYs.
Evolving the way the world moves.
Notice that it doesn’t say anything about taxis or even cars.
“In the factory we make cosmetics. In the department store we sell hope.”
~ Charles Revlon
Co-Founder Revlon Cosmetics
I’ll leave you with four tips on how you can differentiate yourself
• Start with the value your product or service delivers
• Identify your differentiator and the words you want to be known for
• Make a brand promise and communicate it through stories
• Keep your promise…and exceed expectations
Want to learn more? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org