How to find your point of difference

In business it pays to be different, but when you’re selling the same products or services as everyone else in your industry, it can be hard to find a way to differentiate yourself that doesn’t include competing on price.

While it can seem like a good idea to begin with, focusing on price alone means you have to work harder to make a profit, it leaves you vulnerable to competitors who undercut and you tend to attract a certain kind of customer – those difficult, fickle, price-driven customers who will up and leave you the moment they find a cheaper price. 

So how do you find your point of difference when you have the same offering as others? Here are six ideas to get you thinking about how you can differentiate your business without competing on price.

1. Experience or expertise

Take a closer look at what you personally bring to your business and clients that your competitors don’t.

  • Have you been in business longer?
  • Have you had more industry experience?
  • Have you built your business out of your own need so have first-hand experience with the issue your clients are facing?
  • Do you specialise in an area most don’t?
  • Do you have any specific qualifications that are hard to attain or very exclusive?
  • Have you dealt with difficult or uncommon situations that have given you more specialised knowledge
  • Are you or your business more well-known and trusted?
  • Have you worked for any major companies?
  • Have you written a book?
  • Are you a member of any exclusive groups or associations?
  • Have you won an award? 

2. Better processes

Are there any key differences in the way you develop, produce (or source) and deliver your products or services compared to the way others do?

  • Is your project briefing more comprehensive to ensure more tailored products or services?
  • Do you take extra steps to ensure higher quality products or services?
  • Do you follow a specific process or formula that gets more consistent results?  
  • Do you have better client follow up to ensure they received what they needed/wanted?
  • Do you offer a guarantee that is more inclusive or longer than your competitors?

3. Exceptional quality and/or consistent results

Do you produce higher quality products or services or do you get greater or more consistent results? If you can prove you products or services are of a higher standard, have more value or achieve better results than your competitors, a potential client will quickly select your business even if you are more expensive.

  • Have you helped a large percentage of clients achieve something? (70% of clients achieve their goal weight within six months of training with you)
  • Do you have quantifiable results that are proven through testimonials or case studies? (Doubling profit, halving expenses)
  • Do your products last longer or work faster?
  • Are they more environmentally friendly or energy efficient?
  • Do you use more stronger, durable and/or safer materials?
  • Do you as a business have a better safety record?
  • Do you have the exclusive rights to sell a particular brand or product? 

4. A wider range of products or services

Do you or could you offer a wider range of products or services than your competitors? 

  • Do you have a wider range of colours, shapes or styles?
  • Do you have it available in different material?
  • Do you have better or more add-ons?
  • Do you offer (or have you aligned with other businesses to offer) a one stop shop of services?
  • Do you include “how to” guides, workshops, or webinars on how to get the most from your products or as a value add for your services?

5. More personalised and/or quicker service

Do you provide a really quick turnaround on products or services compared to others in your industry? Or a more personalised service where your competitors are faceless? Many people will choose a business and pay more if products and services are recieved quicker and/or they have the convenience of being able to contact someone easily.

  • Will customers always talk to a human being or only be on hold for a certain period of time? (particularly important in industries where you are normally left on hold or have to do everything through a website and not talk to someone)
  • Are you easier to get hold of?
  • Are you available for longer hours or have an emergency after hours call service (if applicable to your industry)?
  • Do you have a set time you answer enquiries by?
  • Do you ship products or deliver services quicker?
  • Do you have a guaranteed delivery time?
  • Do you give your clients more one-on-one time?
  • Do you spend more quality time getting to know clients in order to help them better?

6. Well-known clients

Do any well-known individuals or brands use your products or services? Being able to differentiate yourself by the quality of your clients can be a great way to establish credibility and generate publicity for your business. Not only do you appeal to their fans and clients, people will naturally assume you are good if high-profile people or businesses use and endorse your products or services.

Ask your well-known clients if they would mind giving you a testimonial (video is ideal) about how they have enjoyed your products and services. Also ask if you can use their name and logo on your website and in other promotional material, as this will help build credibility and rapport with potential customers. 

There are literally hundreds of ways to differentiate your business and establish your value. The key is to get a little creative. Look closely at the needs and frustrations of your potential clients and what your competitors are doing and more importantly not doing, very soon you will start to identify your existing points of difference and additional opportunities for you to differentiate.

Amanda


Turning industry stereotypes into powerful points of difference

Whether we like it or not people make assumptions about us, our business and even how we conduct our business based on the industry we are in. 

Don’t believe me? What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a used car salesmen, lawyer or journalist? When you call a tradesman are you expecting them to be on time or late? Tidy or messy? What about when you meet with an accountant? Are you expecting a passionate, engaging person or a person who has less personality than their calculator?

While some people certainly do fit their industry stereotypes, many of us don’t. But as frustrating as it can be to be judged according to a perception, idea or bad experience someone else is responsible for, it can provide you with a very clear way to differentiate yourself and a very powerful method to sell. 

To show you here are four tips to help you turn your industry stereotype into powerful points of difference. 

1. Define your industry stereotype

In order to rise above the perceptions and bad experiences people have had with others in your industry you need to define your industry stereotype. To do this take everything bad (joking or otherwise) someone has said about your industry and combine it with common perceptions people have of someone in your field. 

By doing this you now have a list of what not to do, and how to differentiate yourself in the mind of your customers.

2. Create your industry “villain”

Once you have your “not to-do” list, create the “villain” of your industry to give all of the negative attributes a personality. For some industries like real estate or investment, you might paint a really shady, unscrupulous, self serving character, though for others it might be quite mild in comparison yet still appeal to common industry frustrations. 

The key is to make this “villain” realistic and relatable, because this is the person you are getting your customers to focus all their negative feelings and bad experiences on instead of you and your industry as a whole. 

For example a tradesman might say something along the lines of… 

“Have you ever been left waiting for hours without a phone call wondering where your [tradesman] was? Then when they finally arrived [x] hours late, after trampling dirt all through your home, you find out [insert frustration: the job has to be delayed/the job would take longer than anticipated/the job was more expensive than quoted/they don’t have all the materials or equipment they need/it wasn’t done the way you wanted etc.]?” Continuing on with the pain, frustration and inconvenience caused.

3. Become the “hero”

Once you establish the pain and frustration the “villains” cause your potential customers, you then need to establish yourself as the “hero” who swoops in to save your potential customers.

To do this you need to paint the picture of how you, your products and services, the way you deliver them and/or the way conduct your business is vastly different in comparison to everyone else in your industry, using the proof of testimonials where possible. 

Through your marketing copy, and when you are talking to your potential customers, show them how you provide what they need and want, taking the weaknesses of the industry “villains” and turning them into your own marketable strengths. 

To use the tradesman example above, you might follow on by saying…

“But imagine if instead you received a phone call an hour before your tradesman is due confirming your job details along with his estimated time of arrival. If, when they turn up – on time – they removed their shoes, communicated clearly on how long it would take, explained what was involved, had all of the tools and materials needed in their fully fitted out workshop on wheels and delivered on time, on budget with the highest quality workmanship – guaranteed. Then after they finished, they cleaned up all of their mess leaving no trace they had been there other than a job well done. That is what you receive with [business name]”

4. Follow Through

While positioning yourself as the “hero” can generate interest and sales, delivering on what you promise is the true key to overcoming industry stereotypes and creating raving fans that will go on and sell your business for you. People can’t help but talk about someone who is breaking the mould, particularly when the person has helped them greatly. 

Have you ever found yourself stereotyped based on your industry?

Amanda


Finding your point of difference

In business it pays to be different, but when you’re selling the same products or services as everyone else in your industry, it can be hard to find a way to differentiate yourself that doesn’t include competing on price.

While it can seem like a good idea to begin with, focusing on price alone means you have to work harder to make a profit, it leaves you vulnerable to competitors who undercut and you tend to attract a certain kind of customer – those difficult, fickle, price-driven customers who will up and leave you the moment they find a cheaper price.

So how do you find your point of difference when you have the same offering as others? Here are six ideas to get you thinking about how you can differentiate your business without competing on price.

1. Experience or expertise

Take a closer look at what you personally bring to your business and clients that your competitors don’t.

  • Have you been in business longer?
  • Have you had more industry experience?
  • Have you built your business out of your own need so have first-hand experience with the issue your clients are facing?
  • Do you specialise in an area most don’t?
  • Do you have any specific qualifications that are hard to attain or very exclusive?
  • Have you dealt with difficult or uncommon situations that have given you more specialised knowledge?
  • Are you or your business more well-known and trusted?
  • Have you worked for any major companies?
  • Have you written a book?
  • Are you a member of any exclusive groups or associations?
  • Have you won an award?

 
2. Better processes

Are there any key differences in the way you develop, produce (or source) and deliver your products or services compared to the way others do?

  • Is your project briefing more comprehensive to ensure more tailored products or services?
  • Do you take extra steps to ensure higher quality products or services?
  • Do you follow a specific process or formula that gets more consistent results?  
  • Do you have better client follow up to ensure they received what they needed/wanted?
  • Do you offer a guarantee that is more inclusive or longer than your competitors?

 
3. Exceptional quality and/or consistent results

Do you produce higher quality products or services or do you get greater or more consistent results? If you can prove you products or services are of a higher standard, have more value or achieve better results than your competitors, a potential client will quickly select your business even if you are more expensive.

  • Have you helped a large percentage of clients achieve something? (70% of clients achieve their goal weight within six months of training with you)
  • Do you have quantifiable results that are proven through testimonials or case studies? (Doubling profit, halving expenses)
  • Do your products last longer or work faster?
  • Are they more environmentally friendly or energy efficient?
  • Do you use more stronger, durable and/or safer materials?
  • Do you as a business have a better safety record?
  • Do you have the exclusive rights to sell a particular brand or product?

 
4. A wider range of products or services

Do you or could you offer a wider range of products or services than your competitors?

  • Do you have a wider range of colours, shapes or styles?
  • Do you have it available in different material?
  • Do you have better or more add-ons?
  • Do you offer (or have you aligned with other businesses to offer) a one stop shop of services?
  • Do you include “how to” guides, workshops, or webinars on how to get the most from your products or as a value add for your services?

 
5. More personalised and/or quicker service

Do you provide a really quick turnaround on products or services compared to others in your industry? Or a more personalised service where your competitors are faceless? Many people will choose a business and pay more if products and services are received quicker and/or they have the convenience of being able to contact someone easily.

  • Will customers always talk to a human being or only be on hold for a certain period of time? (particularly important in industries where you are normally left on hold or have to do everything through a website and not talk to someone)
  • Are you easier to get hold of?
  • Are you available for longer hours or have an emergency after hours call service (if applicable to your industry)?
  • Do you have a set time you answer enquiries by?
  • Do you ship products or deliver services quicker?
  • Do you have a guaranteed delivery time?
  • Do you give your clients more one-on-one time?
  • Do you spend more quality time getting to know clients in order to help them better?

 
6. Well-known clients

Do any well-known individuals or brands use your products or services? Being able to differentiate yourself by the quality of your clients can be a great way to establish credibility and generate publicity for your business.

Not only do you appeal to their fans and clients, people will naturally assume you are good if high-profile people or businesses use and endorse your products or services.

Ask your well-known clients if they would mind giving you a testimonial (video is ideal) about how they have enjoyed your products and services. Also ask if you can use their name and logo on your website and in other promotional material, as this will help build credibility and rapport with potential customers.

There are literally hundreds of ways to differentiate your business and establish your value. The key is to get a little creative. Look closely at the needs and frustrations of your potential clients and what your competitors are doing and more importantly not doing, very soon you will start to identify your existing points of difference and additional opportunities for you to differentiate.

Amanda


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