If you’re the best at what you do, then you’re guaranteed to pull ahead of the game and win every time. You’re on top, because nobody does your job better than you and because you’re better, everybody will want to buy your product or hire your crew.
If you want to build a profitable business and you want to be known as the best at what you do, then you might be approaching the game all wrong if you try to position yourself as ‘better.' Sure being better is good if you play sports or video games, but business is something different altogether.
We’re attracted to products or services that have an advantage over the other options available out there. We want to see how the products and services that are different or new to what we already have. That gives us a way to rank our options.
As a business, if you capitalize on the differences that your products and services have, you can dominate the competition and truly become the ‘better’ company.
Brand Differentiation: Have characteristics and benefits that help your audience make easier, smarter, more confident buying decisions.
Why Is ‘Better’ Worse?
Better isn’t what you want to be because better is worse. It keeps you chained to set beliefs and keeps you tied to your competition as you fight over whose product is of better value.
If you’re better, then you’re temporary better because there will always be somebody out there who becomes better at being better – and then the struggle to pull yourself on top continues. It’s a flimsy advantage over your competitors that can be blown away in half a second as soon as somebody bigger comes along.
Better can always be beaten by a:
- Lower price
- Nicer location
- Advanced technology
- Fancier degrees/qualifications
- Higher certifications
- Larger team
- More association memberships
- More awards
- New & Improved… anything
If you strive to be better, then you’ve chained yourself to be struggling with your competition constantly. A good example of this is the retail food market at your local grocery store. Rows and rows of similar products, all with “new & improved” ingredients. With every item shouting, “we are better,” nothing stands out, and you are left with brand loyalty or finding something that markets how it is meaningfully different.
This is why you don’t need to be the best. You just need to be different. Relevant and meaningfully different.
In an industry that’s saturated by companies that look the same and sound the same, it doesn’t really matter how wonderfully amazing your company is on the inside if customers can't see that on the outside. Blending into the market will cause you to lose sales opportunities before you even get to a conversation. This is why you need to find out what makes you and your brand unique.
Being the best at something doesn’t matter if you blend into the crowd while prospects are researching who to hire. You have to stand out by being clearly positioned and meaningfully differentiated from all the other options available.
So, What Makes You Meaningfully Different… Relevant… Distinctive?
Nobody cares about a product or a service that is marginally better than another. If you’re too similar to your opponent, then you’re both just going to fight over price to attract your customers.
This is why you must strive to be seen a meaningfully different. What is it about your products, how you deliver your services, your team, your story, and your mission that makes you relevant? And what audience cares about those things?
These are the fundamental questions you need to ask yourself. They are the basis of your business DNA and your brand story. All of your core messages need to be aligned with the right audience for your company. You were not built for everyone, and the sooner you acknowledge that, the better.
The more you differentiate and position yourself from your competitor and toward your ideal customer, the less price will play a factor in the buying decisions. You won’t be a simple commodity, and you’ll become something different, something necessary, something that is hard to replicate.
Show Them Your Goodies
Your service needs to shine brightly in front of your audience, or it’s not going to capture their interest. To do this, you need to show them why they need to invest in you and how your team is going to make their life better. And this takes clarity. The enemy of decision making is too many similar options and complexity.
Now, we’re not talking about listing all your services generically. No, we’re talking about how your company can help improve the lives of your customers. What can it do that no other firm can? What are the benefits of hiring you? What is the outcome you deliver that they want?
When discovering your product or service’s benefits, ask yourself the question, “So what?” And do your best to stay away from generic statements that are table stakes.
- “We do great work.”
- “We have fantastic people.”
- “We care about our clients.”
- “We are committed to excellence.”
- “We provide solutions.”
- “We exceed expectations.”
Or this gem “Our mission is to provide innovative solutions and diverse expertise to meet our clients’ needs, with the utmost quality and dedicated service, in an environment of collaboration and respect.” I'm pretty sure this was created by a committee who thought they did an amazing job. The reality, this is a lot of words that say nothing much.
Here are three firms that have done an excellent job of being clear:
“WJE Associates is a global firm of engineers, architects, and materials scientists committed to helping clients solve, repair, and avoid problems in the built world.”
Clear and compelling. And I love the term “material scientists.”
“Designing a better, more beautiful world since 1935. We collaborate with clients all over the world to create healthy, sustainable places in which to live, learn, work, play, and heal. Places that honor humanity.”
Perkins & Will – Simple, empathetic, and clear. I can feel what they are all about.
“Elegantly Simple Audio & Video. A full-service audio, video & technology integrator.”
Felix Media Studio – Not just elegant or simple, but elegantly simple. These two words together say a lot, and this will resonate with the right crowd. Architects don't want to design a beautiful building only to have a huge display mounted crooked with cords everywhere. FMS clearly articulated in a few words they don't like that either.
Brand differentiation is not all about you.
Differentiation is about identifying a set of competitive advantages you have, that your client values and sets you apart from competitors/alternatives, on which to build a position of strength in the market. Be the knife that cuts through the clutter. Make the competition irrelevant because you are meaningfully different and relevant from the prospect's point of view… the most important point of view.
Here at Branding & Beyond, we help you discover what already exists in your firm and craft it into messaging that will help your prospects know why to choose you and feel confident in their choice. We want you to OWN a space in their mind, so you are their first choice to hire and refer to.
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Tracy O’Shaughnessy Founder / Lead Brand Strategist of Branding & Beyond
Tracy and her team help B2B firms in the construction industry and professional services look and sound credible online and off.
She has been in the industry since the early '90s and is tired of great companies being treated as commodities and competing on price because they don't look and sound as credible as they really are.
You can find Tracy on Linkedin and here on this blog.