Friday, December 09, 2011

What Makes You Different?

Wondering if people "think" enough about differentiation.

In our jobs we do stuff.  We accomplish things.  But are we contemplating and discovering what is really different in how we serve clients?  Are we unique from the competition or are we commodities in sheep's clothing?

Companies have great websites, brochures and other marketing materials, but they often look similar to the competition.  They think these tools make them stand out, but instead they look alike.  I did a poll with an audience of attorneys in Austin, Texas.  I instructed them to raise their hand if their firm website has an image of the local skyline, the State Capitol, or the scales of justice on the homepage.  Almost everyone's hand went up.  Once lady laughed out loud and proclaimed "Mine has all three!"

I was speaking to a group of bankers and I asked them "What differentiates you from other banks?".  Without hesitation these executives responded "We are a relationship bank".  They did not think for one minute, they knew the answer. The look in their eyes was classic when I then asked "Do your competitors tell prospects that they are NOT a relationships bank?  Do they announce they are just there to charge high fees?".  ALL BANKS SAY THEY ARE RELATIONSHIP FOCUSED.... thus that is not differentiation.  Instead it is a slogan.  A slogan does not necessarily mean anything.

These bankers and lawyers admitted they had never thought about how much they looked and sounded just like their competition.  It is easy to say claim the party line, it is hard to be different.  When everyone is claiming the same differentiation point, it is not a unique selling position.

Always be thinking about communicating what makes you different. This is not coming up with a slogan, but instead it has to be part of your daily thinking routine.  I fear most people do not "think" about things.  If you are always looking to discover ways to show what makes you different, you will stand out from the competition.

Here is an exercise to do with your co-workers:

1.  Ask "What makes us different from the competition?"

2.  Challenge the answer with "Can or does the competition say the same thing to prospective clients?"  and "Can the prospect tell see this difference before they buy?".

3.  Look for something else until you discover a real difference that makes a meaningful difference to a buyer (this may take more than one meeting...but if you do this exercise every day you will have an "A-Ha" moment).

Have A Great Day

thom singer

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