Perhaps the most important marketing step any business can take is to discover a way to be different.
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Different is doing something like no other. Different is creating your own category. Different is exceeding people’s chronically low expectations. Different is marketing in a way that makes people take notice.
Most of the time marketers seem to be in a race for sameness and this is what leads to low profits and that sinking feeling that somehow your business is stuck. Now, if I’ve got your attention let me add this.
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If you want to build a truly fulfilling business you’ve got to be different and remarkable at the same time.
And here’s the tough part. You’re probably pretty remarkable already, but it’s just that you’re remarkable at something everyone else claims. I know you do better work and provide better service than anyone in your industry – heck, your existing clients know this too, but those are expectations that everyone can boast.
Don’t believe me? Try this. Go to your top five competitors and copy the first bit of content you encounter on their website onto a blank document. Do the same for your own site. Now, on this document, black out the names or any reference to the name of the business represented.
Take a look at what remains. Can you tell one from another? Can you even identify your business on this page anymore? Feeling brave? Pass this around the office and see how your staff does. Pass this to your best customers and see how they do.
Experience tells me that this should cement once and for all the opportunity that exists for your business to take a different path.
Stop paying such close attention to your competitors, it will only lead to making you look the same.
The source of your best different strategy is your customers.
I know you know what sets you apart from the pack, but your customers know what sets you apart in the ways that matter to them.
Sure, they love your great experience and knowledge, but what they really love is that you call them back immediately when they have a question.
Of course they love your wide selection of products, but what they really love is that you remember their name and what they bought the last time them came in.
The craftsmanship of your carpenters is second to none, but the fact that they clean up the job site every day is what rocks your customer’s world.
Sit down with your best customers and find out what they think you do that’s different. Listen for stories about times you did something different. Those stories are your key to carving out your difference. Take that gift and don’t ever be like everyone else again.
Making it remarkable
When you make a decision to be different, and that decision is fueled by the real world validation of your customers, then you simply take that knowledge and make fortifying that difference and turning it into the thing that makes your business remarkable your primary business objective.
Don’t shy away from your difference. Don’t think it’s too small or too odd or too unimportant sounding.
Make it your core message, make it the filter for every business decision and build business processes steeped in highlighting that difference.
If your people clean up the job site better than anyone else, then show and tell the world and know that others will value that difference. Make that the thing your business is remarkable at doing.
If you remember a customer when they return to your store, then build your entire business around that simple feeling of warmth that your business embodies. Make that the thing your business is remarkable at doing.
If you just happen to think it’s polite to quickly return calls and answer your customer’s concerns, then broadcast that difference and build a company culture around what others might see as extreme customer attention. Make that the thing your business is remarkable at doing.
Now, let me give you the real payoff.
Companies that are different, that essentially have no competition for what they do in a remarkable way, charge a premium for what they do.
John Jantsch has been called the World’s Most Practical Small Business Expert for consistently delivering real-world, proven small business marketing ideas and strategies. John is a marketing consultant, speaker and best selling author of Duct Tape Marketing, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine.