What makes you better than the competition?
If your first thought is “good customer service,” we have some tough love for you…that’s not enough.
As an ad agency, we talk to a lot of businesses about their differentiators. We spend a lot of time thinking about what makes one company different from its competitors. When we start talking to new prospects or clients, we ask them a lot of questions to help understand what makes them really stand out.
And unfortunately, a lot of businesses don’t have great answers here. More often than not, their answer is something that everyone expects as a bare minimum.
Good Customer Service is Not a Differentiator
When we go to a restaurant, we expect great service…and usually feel irritated or won’t return if service is subpar. Good service isn’t a differentiator, it’s one of our most basic expectations for a business.
The bottom line is, you don’t try to take credit for things you’re supposed to do (thank you Chris Rock)! There’s a lot of things that fall into this category, like:
- Providing a safe environment for customers, offering guidelines for safe usage of your product, etc.
- Providing quality products or services
- Acting ethically and with integrity
- Offering products and services at fair prices (not price gouging)
- Protecting your customer’s data
…and so on.
It’s like bragging about how polite you are because you opened the door for someone walking behind you. Not a good look.
Okay, So What is a Good Differentiator?
A solid differentiator is something that truly sets you apart from others in your industry. It’s about how you go above and beyond expectations or standards…or how you deliver in such a unique way that customers feel compelled to come back for more.
For example, if you’re a manufacturing company, then quality, timeliness, and cost-efficiency are expected, not differentiators. However, if you have in-house proprietary hybrid tooling capabilities that allow customers to save significantly on products…well, that’s a pretty strong differentiator!
Likewise, look at Nike. Their shoes and clothes are great, but their differentiator lies in how they package it. Their brand revolves around positioning athletes for success and inspiring them to be the best. It’s a lifestyle brand and one that draws in unwavering loyalty from millions of sports fans.
When you buy a pair of Nikes, you’re not just getting quality shoes. You’re getting the same quality shoes that Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, and Lebron James wear. Now that’s a differentiator!
Most Successful Businesses Have Great Differentiators…But They Don’t Always Know it
If you’re at a loss as to what actually differentiates your business, that’s okay. If you run or work at a successful business, the truth is that you probably do have some great differentiators.
The thing is, when you work at a business long enough, you sometimes take your differentiators for granted. What seems exceptional or impressive to customers can feel like normal business for you.
Try to take a step back and think about what really separates you from the competition. Ask your employees and everyone else at the organization for their thoughts on the issue – and don’t be afraid to solicit input from customers as well.
Long-time, loyal customers are some of the best people to ask. If they’ve given you their business over a long period of time, they will probably have some keen insights on what makes your organization uniquely valuable.
Your differentiators are there – you just have to identify them. On some level, we all know that we bring something unique to the market and that our business makes the world a better place. The trick is getting clarity on specifically what that is before communicating it to audiences.
If you’re having trouble figuring out what your differentiators are, give us a call at 248-579-9972. We’d love to talk about differentiators and offer an outside perspective to help you identify yours.