As a business owner, how do I determine what differentiates my products and services? This is a question that often comes up in the early stages of consultation with new business clients.
You can do a simple competitive analysis by reviewing your competitors yellow pages listings and/or website content for description of services, size of business or other relevant factors. Some will do a little sneaky reconnaissance by calling for a price quote under GoDaddy cover as a potential customer. These will give a surface overview of your competitive field, and you may immediately see commonalities (or differences) that you can exploit to create a Unique Selling Proposition (USP).
But does this flat data really help to explain or understand the complexities of consumer buying? Over the years, we have witnessed many businesses in our community who, on the surface, were doing everything ‘right’ according to standard business planning models, and yet failed to attract the support of the consumer niche they needed to support their operations.
In working with our clients, we encourage them to think about the unique personality of their business. This can include elements such as an unusual neighborhood or community setting, owner-managed vs corporate business structure, or the rationale behind pricing that may be higher or lower than industry norms. Beyond these characteristics, many successful business owners have created a distinctive ‘flavor’ within their operations, branding and marketing by incorporating some aspects of their own style and personality. Consider domain registrar marketing guru Bob Parsons who unabashedly includes his preferences for gorgeous young women and an unashamed patriotism in every GoDaddy marketing campaign.
So, what really makes you different? Why did you choose the business or industry you are in? What do you love about it? What do you hate? What’s your favorite comment that anyone has ever said about your products or services? Are there challenges in your business model that might be turned into an advantage for a particular type of customer?
We believe that, as businesses and as people, our greatest opportunities sometimes come when we strip away the social mask and learn to accept and appreciate our own unique mix of strength and weaknesses. What do you think?