29Aug

You Need to Differentiate Yourself: 3 Ways to Do it (Part I)

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It’s a highly competitive world out there.  And in a slow economy, like we are currently experiencing, you have a lot of businesses that are willing to deeply discount their services to win new business.  It’s important to be able to stand out from the crowd when pitching your products and services to clients.  And most importantly, it’s critical to provide amazing customer service to keep your existing customers.  This blog, “You Need to Differentiate Yourself” is Part I of a 2-part blog series about why you should, and how you can, differentiate your business to drive your sales.

A key to growing your business is to be able to differentiate yourself from the competition.  You have to have something that is not only unique but also gives customers a compelling reason to value your services above what your competitors are offering.  Otherwise, you’re just competing on price and for many businesses that’s just a race to the bottom.  When I think about differentiation, I reflect on Matthew 5:14-16:

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

When you differentiate yourself you stand out from the competition, you’re the shining light that can’t be missed.  You want your customers to see that you are heads and shoulders ahead of your competition so they feel you are not only the safer firm to do business with, but also the one providing the most value.

Here are a few tips that I have come across over the years on how to effectively differentiate yourself from the competition:

1) Know your competition.   The best place to start is to understand who your competition is and what they are doing.  Find out who the leader is in your space.  This could be your local competition for providing deck and porch services or it could be your regional or national competitor providing Microsoft Implementations to the same customers you are targeting.   It doesn’t matter if you’re baking cakes or trying to recruit members to your gym, find out who is doing it well in your neck of the woods and learn more about what they are doing.  Put a list together of your competitors and learn how they are marketing and differentiating themselves.  You can get this information from their website, from their social media feeds, from doing internet searches for customer reviews, by talking to your customers and prospect who may also be talking to your competitors, and by looking at their press releases and news articles.  You can also start to look in local newspapers, direct mail campaigns, online advertisements, and other local advertising depending on the type of business.

2) Be a “Peace of Mind” differentiator.  Once you have a good idea of how your competitive landscape looks, be different.  This may require you spend some extra time talking and learning from customers what is important to them.  You want to differentiate in ways that will drive sales.  I like to put differentiation into 2 categories: 1) peace of mind, and 2) business drivers.  “Peace of mind differentiators” are those things that just make a customer check the mental box and say, “I can do business with these guys.  They seem credible.”  This can be as simple as having a nice set of business cards and a nice website, to being something more substantial like a particular certification or business license type.  These are the basic things you need to do business in your industry and if your customer asks if you have them and you say, “no,” they immediately see red flags and your job as a salesperson becomes increasingly more difficult.  The reason I include these in differentiators is because many of your competition probably don’t have those.  So you can simply appear to be more value to your customer by having them.

3) Be a “Business Driver” differentiator.  But the real differentiation comes in the “business driver” category.  Learn what your customers want and start to add it into your process.  For example, if you are providing some sort of service where you have to appointment set and show up at your customer’s home, it might really differentiate you to incorporate technology and allow customers to schedule time via your website.  However, this is where customer insight is important.  Your customers may not want to schedule your services on-line, however, they may prefer a process where you give them a guaranteed 2-hour window of arrival with a money back bonus if you’re late.  If you don’t know, experiment and try different things to see what works best.  But, the key is that you have something “customer-centric” that you can pitch in your marketing and sales pitch to customers that make you stand out as different.  If your competition is not taking the extra time to innovate, you have the chance to do it.  And if you do it right, you can charge more and still beat the competition.

Ready to differentiate your business?  It will surely give you a leg up on the competition.  Be sure to check out Part II of “You Need to Differentiate Yourself” blog series.  Check back often and sign-up for our newsletter so you don’t miss any future posts about being a Jesus Led Business and other actionable steps to help drive your business.

And, in the meanwhile, continue to… Pray About It, Be About It, and Praise About It!

Thanks for reading and God Bless.

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