Sounds Simple, It’s Tough

“So, who are we, and what makes us different?” I have always asked that question of our clients to see if they have mastered this very important rule of marketing any business. Depressingly, most small businesses don’t know. If you are unclear of how to brand your business as different from any other, then how can your customers? This sounds a very simple thing to do but, in fact, it’s tough to be good at. It’s important, too ,because it makes up the important part of the customer’s ‘Value Proposition’.

This is a mental process that e go through in order to make decisions. The cost of any task can be broken down to its constituent points, and mean different things. (I am out of Marmalade. Shall I go and get some? How far is it? What is the weather like? Can I do without until the weekend?) But, in order to minimize or sidestep these calculations, every proposal must have as little cost as possible, thereby growing the Value part of the proposition in the customer’s mind, making the choice easier.

The most straightforward way of doing this is to show how you are different from anyone else out there. So, how can you come up with an honest, compelling, and easy to understand Cost/Value proposition?

It’s difficult, isn’t it? Because your customers and prospects want you to be different, they require you to be different, and this is the essence of the elusive marketing strategy so many companies long for. So, how about starting here?

Identify your ideal client:

Create a list of six to eight of your current ideal clients (Or prospects), and commit to sitting down with them, either face to face or over the phone for about fifteen minutes. Then,

Ask them these questions:

And note the answers with the following themes:

How do they see you, your product, your service, your company: Then press them for a follow up “Okay, we provide great service, that’s awesome, but tell me a story about a time we did.”

1. Why did you hire us/buy from us in the first place? (What helped them decide to buy, what build trust, what resonated in your marketing and sales processes.)

2. What’s one thing we do that you love the most? (Stick to one thing and help them get as specific as possible)

3. What’s one thing we do that others don’t? (Again one thing –Get some industry comparison going – you might get some stories of how others have failed them in the past and there offer some interesting opportunities.)

4. If you were to refer us what would you say? (Have them describe what you do best as though they were telling a friend. You can turn these answers into testimonials, with their permission.)

5. Can you tell me about three other companies that you love? (It doesn’t matter who they are, if you are in a list with other companies, what sets them apart from their competition – that’s who you are.)

6. Bonus: If you can pull this off, have them conduct an online search and simply ask them to type the phrase they would enter if you were no longer around and they needed to replace what you do for them. (I like to try to have them physically do this. It’s amazing what you learn from watching what people really do to find things online. Experience tells me you might not be optimizing your content for the same terms your prospects are looking for.)

The themes that come out time and time again are who you are in customers eyes.

If you are trying this with prospects, it will show you who you have to become to be a go-to vendor from their point of view.

One final thing: Do not accept Price as the only reason. Price means you are a place that people go to without thinking, so don’t let them off the hook that easy.

There are many things that you do, that you haven’t noticed, so now is the time to see them through a customer’s eyes, collect evidence as to what you do better than anyone else, then come up with a business plan that includes and highlights these Value Proposition wins, and shape your next marketing campaign around them.

Now you have a sales and marketing strategy that highlights one thing (look at Wendy’s: “Now, THAT’s better.” They are launching new, salad based menu items. So ‘Better’ means not only better for you, but you feel better, when you eat it!), you have an avenue to the future. Change your internal and external working processes to highlight these, and you have kept things incredibly simple, while doing something very, very tough.


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