Does the market know you’re special?

Like a parent consoling a school-aged child who desperately wants to fit in with their peers, know that what makes your business different is what makes it special. So, how do you both norm and form to fit in with your industry and the expectations of consumers while creating a unique allure? Begin by recognizing the preferences of your prospective buyers and align with them.

Look deeply outward and inward.

Things that are familiar make us feel good. We all like what we know. But when launching a new business, product, or service there’s a craft in striking the right sweet spot between the familiar and standing apart from the rest. Aside from disruptors, most of us are looking for something special (in marketing jargon – your value proposition, unique business value, competitive advantage, differentiator). What is it about what you have or how you offer it that is distinct and true to you? That’s it. That’s the story you tell.

But how and where you find your unique value may be in places you don’t immediately look at. We’re often wound-up in our product speeds and feeds, features and benefits, and pricing. Don’t stop there! Get strategic. Stretch your thinking beyond the box and evaluate functions and several aspects of your business. It is likely you’ll find strengths to leverage that are meaningful to your prospective buyer.

Here are five areas to explore.
  1. Customer care. Is it easy to reach you? Do you offer human-to-human support? Will you respond to inquiries in an aggressive period? Do you offer resolution to support requests in an aggressive period? Might you guarantee resolution, failure analysis reports, or customer satisfaction? Is your commitment to service backed by warranty, exchanges, rebates, or refunds?
  2. Innovation principles. Do you have a compelling innovation? Besides the technical specification, number of patents, or awards you’ve received, what drives the decisions you make about what you build? Have you told that story?
  3. Philanthropy. Is there a fundamental cause associated with your work that is meaningful to your customer? What is the greater good that your customers can be a part of supporting? Do your values and company time and treasure gifts compliment those of your customers? Is there an opportunity to collaborate on philanthropic endeavors?
  4. Commercial terms. Is there anything more flexible than your competitors when it comes to payment terms, shipping terms, and discounts? Do you offer any special rebates, promotions, or time-based incentives? Do you offer no-risk trials or financing?
  5. Supply chain. Do you control everything in it? Do you have a network of partners who help get products to market more quickly than the competition? For B2B companies, will you build to a forecast or hold stock? Is your solution “green” and how? Do you have tools or processes that allow you to be more responsive to lead times or agile in delivering prototypes of finished goods?

Now that you have some ideas about where you can stretch your messaging, don’t let the status quo continue to rule your thinking. Ensure you create differentiation for your brand by finding places to reach your customers where the competition isn’t going. It’s often not enough to say “do things differently”. Be conscious of being findable, being in new places, and taking a different approach.

Keep these principles in mind:

Findability. Sounds simple, but can prospective customers find you? Industries vary in the types of tactics they use to reach the market. Spend time thinking about your ideal buyers and challenge the status quo marketing tactics. And ensure – no matter what – your digital footprint is strong.

Mix it up. Challenge your team to “turn-over” at least 20% of their marketing approaches from the year before. If you don’t do new things, you will not get transformative results. Have you tried influencer marketing, creating a user group, or out-of-home advertising? No one tactic is a silver bullet, but depending on the demographics of your audience and their preferences for where and how they get information, there may be unexplored opportunities to tap into.

Look to other industries for inspiration. Pay attention to other businesses and share ideas and inspiration about a commercial you liked, a direct mail, a white paper, a tradeshow booth… What did you like about it and why? You may not mimic the example, but you can use it to spark inspiration to amplify your work or use the inspiration as a catalyst for something new.

Pay attention, but don’t mimic the competition. At the end of the day, do yourself a favor and don’t fall into the trap of mimicking your competitor’s approach. They’re not you. It’s great to admire what they do when you find it compelling. But instead of doing the same thing, ask yourself what you liked about what they did. Then, try and recreate that feeling in another way.

Remember, embrace your differences.

Simply doing what your successful competitors do may not work for your business. Be motivated by them but find what works best for you by turning over new stones, studying customer data more closely, and pushing your business to try different approaches. Your team will enjoy the empowerment that comes along when you create the expectation of change that they define. Creating something new is often the ideal scenario for high achievers and as such, your team will thrive and appreciate the privilege to do things differently. You’ll stand out. You’ll blaze new trails. You’ll be special… and your customers will know it.

Want to read more on this topic? Here are a few other articles we’d like to share.
Brand Authenticity: Why Differentiation Is A Game Changer

Product Differentiation and What it Means for Your Brand

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