You’re Different? How So?

Often when I talk to an owner of a small business I hear them exclaim that they are different from those they compete against. Upon hearing that phrase, I ask, “How so?”

The answer is usually a list of generalities like, “We give better service” or “We’re friendlier” or “We care more.” These points of differentiation are nice, but not easily measured and compared. Furthermore, it is very difficult to get the prospect to see, feel, and want these general differentiators.

I almost never hear them speak in measurable specifics; points of differentiation that can be quantified and compared such as, “Our service staff is the only one that is 100% certified in our geographic area” or “Our customers can choose more delivery options than anyplace else” or “Our backorder rate is better than 98% of companies in our industry.”

Take a look your competitor’s web sites and other advertising. What do they say about themselves? How do you compare? What points can you make that can illustrate and demonstrate your “betterness?”

It’s not good enough to say, “we’re different” because everyone can say that and does. No one pays attention to that sort of boasting. People do listen when a point of differentiation is specific and measurable. It gives them something to compare to help make purchasing decisions.

I challenge you to write a list of specific and measurable points of differentiation for your company or product. Compare them to your competition and see where you come out on top. Determine a talking point, slogan, or phrase you can use to drive home your advantages to your customers, your staff and your prospects and prosper on your “difference” and “betterness.”

The second part of this challenge is to determine how you will use it to promote your business and / or your products and services.

  • Use these differentiating statements in your advertising of course.
  • Insert them into your sales presentation scripts
  • Answer the phone with a statement like: “Thanks for calling XYZ company where we guarantee orders placed by 2pm will be shipped the same day!”
  • Teach these points of differentiation to all of your staff, even those who never act in a marketing or sales situation, because it builds pride in their work also.

Once you start using measurable, specific, demonstratable points of differentiation, you will have a series of statements to separate your company and the products / services you sell from your competition instead of some tired cliché or generality.

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