How to Differentiate Yourself (and Make Money Doing it)

What happens if you sound the same as your competitors?

Imagine standing in a supermarket looking at three packets of cheese. They all look pretty much the same. So which one are you going to choose?
The answer is pretty simple. Nearly everyone will choose the cheapest. Without any reason to pick a specific option, buyers will decide on price.

That’s why having a difference is vital

Companies that sell on difference build a different type of relationship with their customers. Their clients will see a reason to use them above other companies. This means that these companies have a better chance of being able to control the sales conversation. They are more likely to achieve their sales targets.
Companies that are not crystal clear about their difference will find it much harder to achieve the right sales targets. Their customers and prospects are more likely to view them as commodity suppliers. Purchases will be made on price.
So how do you create a good difference? Let’s start by busting a typical myth.

Quality and service do not make you different

I’m sure you offer excellent customer service. I’m sure your quality is second to none. But there are two reasons why you should not make these your difference.
The first is that customers expect good quality and service as standard. They do not create a compelling reason to buy.
Secondly, do a quick check of the competition. How many of them also talk about their great service and quality? Do you still think this is a great way to make you sound different?

Here are three words to check if you have a powerful difference

The words are:

  • Specific
  • Valuable
  • Proprietary

It is important that your difference is something the buyer can visualize. Therefore it needs to be something that is spelled out exactly to your prospect. Many ideas for difference are open to different interpretations. For instance, “the best printing company in Texas” doesn’t mean much to me. How does one define “best”? Two people can have very different interpretations of this.
It’s much better to focus on a process. Alternatively, a statistic that people can remember can work well – for instance dealing with 47 design agencies (showing sector knowledge) or turning around print jobs in four hours.
Your difference has to be worthwhile to the buyer. A four-hour turnaround for a job doesn’t mean much if I only purchase print with a longer turnaround.
Ideally, you will have a difference that cannot be copied – or at least is hard to replicate. You have two options. Firstly, create something that your competitors cannot do. Alternatively, create something that would look strange if it was copied.DVP4973649
Do you have a process that you have created yourself? That is something that cannot be copied, especially if you brand it with your own title. For instance, you could have the “XYZ project implementation checklist”.
The example that I gave of dealing with 47 design agencies is hard for someone to copy. They would look a bit silly if they said they dealt with 48 design agencies!

So how do you create a difference that appeals to everyone?

The answer is that you don’t! You can create various differences for each type of customer. It isn’t necessary to have one universal difference.
In my next article I will give some specific examples of difference.

Let’s talk about cheese again

If I look at a standard cheese, I choose the cheapest. But there are plenty of cheeses that are artisan, aged or made with a specific type of milk. I’ll happily pay more for these. That’s the power of having a difference.
Editor’s Note: This article was part of a two-post series on creating value through differentiation:

  1. How to Differentiate Yourself (and Make Money Doing it)
  2. 5 Ways To Make Your Company Stand Out To Prospects

If you’d like more practical ideas on how to engage with today’s buyers, download my free e-book “Ten Common Print Selling Errors and What To Do About Them”. You’ll also receive my regular “Views from the print buyer” bulletin, full of ideas on how to sell print effectively.

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