Brands Differentiate or Die

February 18, 2013, 4:11 pm Rick Marton Yahoo!7

Rick Marton explains how to set yourself apart from competitors.

Brands Differentiate or Die

Imagine a scenario where in front of you stands a customer and beside you stands a competitor.

What would you say to ensure the customer sees value in choosing you over your competitor? More to the point, what would your staff say if they were in your shoes?

Last year my office ran a survey of 500 businesses across a range of industries and sizes, asking them one question: "Why would we choose you over your competitor?"

Just 5 businesses gave a compelling answer. That's just 1%.

Most businesses relied on answers like "our great service", but when we followed up asking what exactly made it great, the silence was deafening.

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And this goes to the heart of the problem. Great brands need to be able to prove what they promise. That's what makes them great.

Even the chain stores were no better at knowing what made them unique, despite the size of their marketing budgets.

One of the most outstanding answers from the survey was from a 6 star resort in Tasmania which did use service as their answer, or should we say their "warm and empathetic service", and then proceeded to paint the picture of exactly why that was so special.

Take Action

If you received a call asking what sets your business apart from competitors, what would you say?

Here’s how to define and refine your answer.

1. At your next staff meeting, ask your team to think about your competitors (and include online in the mix also). What strengths do you have over them that benefit the consumer in a way they can't match?

2. Write down the top 2 or 3 and test them out with customers over a week. Ask your team to informally survey customers on which one stands out as the best enhancement to their life.

3. Collate the information and ask your team to come up with examples and case studies that 'PROVE' that this Point of Difference is part of your brand DNA.

4. Now print it up in big letters and put it on the wall, on screensavers and even the back of the toilet doors. Delivering examples of this point of difference is what will make you stand out and get people talking, so everyone in the team needs to start living and breathing it.

5. Set a reminder in your diary for 3, 6 and 12 months from now to ensure the point of difference is still engraved in their minds and that you're still showing examples of it.

Define your difference, live the difference and be quick to share that difference as a point of value to the consumer. Getting this small thing right will provide momentum in what your business is all about.

Rick Marton is the CEO of branding and strategic marketing outfit Effective Naturally, with over 10 years in the industry.