Thursday, September 28, 2006

What's REALLY Different About Your Company? Do You Promote That?

Marketers of all stripes know the value of a call to action.

I'm making one such call today.

Let's each find our real differences. Unique selling points we can use.

Let me tell you what I mean. Every company is unique. No, really. You might have to dig quite a ways to find something that truly makes you different, but you'll find it. The problem is, 90% of the businesses out there don't dig. They don't even want to think about digging. They just want to write up something identical to every other business out there, throw it on the site, and wait for the flood.


Let me give you a couple examples of real difference. Companies that found something about their operations or their services that made them completely unique. Which made selling themselves easy and genuine.

Example #1 - Contractual Differentiation
An IT firm I know offers service contracts. They're a lot like a retainer, with a set number of hours for network support available as clients need them.

I asked their VP about the setup. She didn't think it was unique, because their competitors did it too. I checked their websites. Turns out none of them mentioned this type of contract on their websites. They might offer such a contract, but they weren't promoting it. (See where I'm going?)

Since their service contracts were already mentioned on the website, I suggested to the VP that she promote them like crazy. I told her even if their competitors did offer contracts, they weren't listing or promoting them.

Because of someone else's slip-up, she'd been handed a powerful company difference.

Promote them she did. Many more contracts, she got. (Speak like Yoda I will stop now.)

Example #2 - A Different Story
I was at a mixer a few months ago, talking to a new entrepreneur. He'd worked for years in management for a moderate-sized B2B technology company. He left after a series of severe budget cuts wrecked his department. He felt bad because he couldn't get any resources for his workers. The employees felt bad because they couldn't get anything done.

Finally, he made the decision to leave and start his own company. Surprisingly, many of his former workers opted to join him.

The thing was, he had no idea how his company would be any different. He provided an almost-exact duplicate of the services, ordered products from the same manufacturers. He'd just emulated what he knew. How would he stand out? Service, reliability, all the tired attempts at USP left a bad taste in his mouth.

I smiled after he finished. I knew his real difference. Do you? (Some of you already guessed it.)

Yep. The story.

I suggested he tell the entire story on his website. Lay it all out on one page, cite it on every other. Let customers see how you decided to be different, what made you strike out for success on your own. The brightening on his face more than made up for the bad fish the caterers brought.

Predictably, his business is doing great.

Sales points like "Quality Service" and "Rock-Bottom Prices" don't work anymore. They'll even hurt your marketing if you use them, in fact. The real differences are in people, stories, circumstanes. Quirks, just like the ones that make us all individuals. Companies have them too.

Use these examples to think about what your company does differently. Use that in your marketing plan. Then you can truly say you DO have a Unique Selling Position. Nobody can contest it. Nobody can duplicate it.



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