The Marketing Minute
I was probing a client on what made his business
special, he replied, "Actually, I'm just like everyone else. What's wrong with that? I'll just be another burger place."
But with a "me too" presentation and no distinctiveness,
your firm becomes harder to remember, harder to recommend and difficult to
market in a focused way. Why create such challenges deliberately?
Instead, select something appealing for customers around which to create
your identity. Possibilities are endless.
Your key differentiator might be:
(humorous, friendly, frank, drill-sergeant disciplinarian, motherly,
non-judgmental). Don't assume that what appeals to you most also
appeals most to your target market. For instance, while you might
enjoy associating with individuals who have a joke for every occasion,
many clients might not like this quality in a surgeon, an accountant
or a fitness trainer. On the other hand, since personality transplants
haven't been perfected yet, the image for your firm should more or
less match the people working in it. Even so, everyone has more than
one side or tendency, and the idea here is to choose a quality that
sets you apart from competitors and has attracting power for your
Values (respect for
tradition, pet-friendly, honesty above all). A friend owns a
bed-and-breakfast inn that serves only organic food. This appeals to
people who hold certain beliefs about what is good to eat and who
prefer not to compromise those beliefs while traveling. Likewise, you
might be selling office supplies but set yourself apart from the pack
by letting it be known that you donate excess or discontinued
inventory to a local homeless shelter.
(burgers for meat lovers or for dieters). Folks who like juicy, tasty
hamburgers will go out of their way for yours if you explain how yours
differ from those at fast-food joints. If you're a financial advisor,
working primarily with women, or with women business owners, or with
widows increases the interest of members of those groups in doing
business with you.
Price (lowest, highest, depending on results).
Price-consciousness doesn't always favor bargains. Some people shopping for gifts or service providers prefer
top-drawer pricing because it implies quality, prestige or
Relationship (constant contact, distant but on-call).
You can stand apart from competitors by being the one who proactively checks in with clients and returns all phone
calls within an hour. Or you can set yourself up as the expert who will never schmooze or go out to lunch with
clients, but work hard to save their neck when trouble comes calling.
Experience (first in Philadelphia, new and fresh, in
business since 1886). Years ago, when I asked an Atlanta-based communications consultant what distinguished
her from competitors, she had a terrific answer: "There are people here who understand technology, but they don't
know Atlanta. Mine is the only communications firm that understands technology and knows Atlanta inside out - I've
been here for 25 years."
Method of working (speedy, methodical, creative). I'm
not just another marketing consultant, since I emphasize that my forte is creative marketing. If you're a web
designer, perhaps your specialty is impossible deadlines - or slower production but a guarantee of no bugginess and no
When you're just another burger place, you're a replaceable commodity, enduring mediocre sales and having to fight for
new and repeat business. With a distinct identity, there's a compelling reason for your ideal clients to hire you
rather than those #&%$@! competitors.
is the author of 6 Steps to Free
Publicity and 10 other books. She runs an online mentorship
program for business owners who want to refocus their business,
institute shrewder marketing and earn more. Learn more and sign up for
her weekly nugget on creative marketing, The Marketing Minute, at
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