• Be Different

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    One of the most thought-provoking and unique images I’ve ever seen was the cover of the bestselling business book, “Freakonomics” by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. Though the book was published and lauded over a decade ago, it has stuck with me ever since. Why? Because it was different. It was unexpected. It made me think. At the same time, it used a very simple and universal image to get you to look inside and think about what it means to be different. (Sidenote: After reading the book, I met Levitt at a presentation he gave on the book. And that was awesome, too!)

    When it comes to marketing, if you happen to be very lucky or an uber-genius, then you just may create, offer or provide something no one else does. However, that is getting harder and harder to do. If, on the other hand, you have a great product, service or work for an organization that has a fabulous mission, you need to decide (and market!) how you’re actually doing it differently. Ask yourself:  How do I differentiate my organization from competitors? What makes my organization unique? How will this equate to more customers, greater brand awareness or a larger reach? Marketers refer to this concept as defining your unique value proposition (UVP), and I call that overwhelming. I doubt you’ve encountered a potential customer who has asked you to explain your UVP and yet, that’s what you need to do to really stand out and be recognized as different.

    Define It, Deliver It
    At a recent WSCCI business education session, one member was frustrated by a lack of business. He talked about how his pricing was unbeatable; he strongly believed that to be his UVP. However, as the discussion went on, he explained that his best and repeat customers were ones hailing from affluent neighborhoods in the west suburban region. What is the driver for those customers? It’s most likely not price; it IS the quality of his work and the fact that they were referred by trusted “advisors” (aka, friends). While customers may say price is an issue, it became clear that his customers placed higher value on the stellar quality of his service. That should be his definition, and he must continue to define that and deliver it. The other idea that came out of the session was to reward those loyal customers with something “valuable” to them.

    What makes you stand out is what you offer your customer that cannot be offered by someone else (aka, your competitor).  Even if your competition eventually offers the same thing you do (copycat!), if you become known for it first and market it first, you will be successful with that UVP.
    1. Tout the benefits, not the features. Benefit-rich value statements will mean more to your customer than sentences filled with details about the product or service itself.
    2. Be clear in your definition and persuasion. Don’t go on and on with lengthy information. Get from Point A to Point B in the quickest way possible.
    3. Solve problems, exceed expectations. What does your product or service or organization do for the audience that makes their life better/happier/easier? How does that rate higher than anyone else?
    4. Use the words of your happy customers in future statements. Ask for testimonials, offer a reward when you receive them.
    Differentiating yourself from others is essential to your marketing and branding efforts. Getting in front of the right audiences and making the decision to stand out will allow customers to select you over your competition. Look inside:  what’s the orange inside the apple? If you don’t know what makes you different, there’s no way anyone else can either… and they won’t even try. 

    If you like this blog and would like more marketing tips, networking opportunities AND a chance to get your organization's name in front of thousands of people in the western suburbs, there's one clear answer:
    Renew your WSCCI membership today!  Want to stand out even further?
    Contact Tammie Easson to place an ad in the 
    Regional Community Guide and Directory. Member discounts on ad sales 
    will only run until May 31.
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