Be Unique. Be Different.
Be Different.

So what makes your business, your product, or your service stand out in the sea of virtual — or perhaps actual — sameness?

Some companies market themselves in a similar ways as their competition, so it’s not surprising that there’s little to allow prospects to understand how you’re different.  And more importantly, how you’re better.  Sure, your product might have an added feature here or there, and you perhaps offer them at a different price, but unless it’s a marked difference, it’s not likely to set you apart.

So how do you stand out?

Tell who are you.

Tell your story before you list your product’s features.  Far too many companies lead their messages with product features and attributes.  While that information is critical to the discussion, if that isn’t accompanied by what your company does and why it does it, then your messages are in danger of being indistinct and unmemorable.

To stand out, tell your unique story.Make sure you’re clear about why your market should care.

You know that your product has great features, or your business provides an amazing service.  But unless you position it to meet your customer’s needs, then you’ll unfortunately be the only one who knows.  A list of features can mean nothing to your marketplace unless they’re the features that specifically meet their own needs.

Brand higher.

Huh?  What this means is to brand at the company level.  Much of the time we brand at the product level.  But truly successful companies know that more of the marketplace opens when they understand company values and what your company truly stands for.  The obvious examples are from consumer brands.  Whether you’re a customer or not, you already know that Apple is big on innovation and design, and so their products follow suit.

Put a stake in the ground.

So what’s your company’s legacy?  What does your company stand for?  What are its foundations?  Why is it in existence?  The more specific and truthful you are, the more resonant your story becomes.  Everyone understands that businesses are in it to make money.  But you could do that any number of ways.  Let your marketplace know why you get up, eat, live, and breath the business of your choice, and why you’re so proud of it.  You know that you’re on the right track when you talk in the language of “our company believes this” rather than “our widget has four push-buttons.”

Talking and walking.

Of course, and this goes without saying, if you talk the talk, you need to walk the walk.  Your company and its products must fulfill all claims or else you’ll lose ground either partially or completely.  You can say you’re number one in this or that, but if that claim fails, then credibility is gone.  If you lose credibility, then sales suffer.  If you say that you’ve got the best customer service in the business, then make sure you actually do.

Pick something that vitally important to your mission in business, and don’t fake it.  Volvo positioned themselves for many years as building the safest cars on the road.  Given how their cars used to look like metal boxes with wheels, it was a wise decision.  But if Volvo didn’t actually care about safety, and their cars didn’t deliver on that claim, then that position would be as hollow as a straw.  I’ve owned a Volvo, and they really are built for safety.

Pick your stake.

So to differentiate your business, pick what’s important to your mission and weave it into the very fabric of your company.  Keep the message consistent, and don’t dilute it with layering on more and more and more.  In time, it will become what you’re known for, and will create that level of differentiation that you need to be a standout provider.

Download for free 8 Essentials for Startups and Small Businesses.

Leaf photo:  Harald Hoyer

Tell Your Story photo:  Damian Gadal