Regardless of what your organization does, you have competitors and they likely offer many of the same products and services that you do. This can make running a business challenging to say the least.
The question is, in a sea filled with heavy competition, how does your organization stand out? You do it by looking at those things that are unique to your organization. We call them differentiators and it’s what we are going to talk about today.
What are Differentiators?
Differentiators are the things that make your organization distinct from your competitors. Every organization has differentiators. Some have more and some have less, but they are there. You just have to look closely.
Maybe the differentiator is tied to a product. Burger King and Wendy’s are fierce rivals in the same space but Burger King’s burgers are flame-broiled while Wendy’s beef is never frozen. The subtle differences are intended to tell customers the same thing, “We have a better product.”
Sometimes the differences aren’t in the product but in the culture of the organization itself. When I moved to California I had never heard of In-N-Out. When friends took me there for the first time I immediately noticed a difference in the service. It felt like I was ordering from a friend instead of a complete stranger.
The burger places I was used to were more transactional: “Welcome to McDonald’s, can I take your order?” At In-N-Out we had a conversation:
Them: “What’s up?”
Me: “Not much. It seems pretty busy.”
Them: “Yeah, it’s been really crazy. What are you guys up to?”
Me: “Just hanging. You off soon?”
Them: “I have a couple more hours but its cool. Hey man, what can I get started for you?”
In-N-Out’s laid back demeanor made going there more enjoyable. It wasn’t a transaction anymore, it was an experience. I felt like they saw me as a human. It was different than any other fast food place and that made me a loyal customer (the burgers were really good too).
Identify your Differentiators
The more you know about how you are different from your competitors, the better. It’s not just about the customer experience or the product. Your differentiators help in your marketing communication efforts.
You need to dig deep and be honest about what really sets your business apart from your competitors. Those points of differentiation are what will resonate with your customers and your employees, but this process doesn’t happen in a vacuum. You are also going to need to know something about your competitors. What are their strengths and weaknesses? What are their differentiators?
If you aren’t sure what makes you different, ask your current customers. They know why they prefer you to your competition.
Remember when we talked about the marketing funnel a few weeks ago? Your differentiators can be critical in the consideration stage of the funnel. Include them when it makes sense in the content on your website.
Telling your story is what is going to make people interested in your brand. Using the differentiators in the story are what is going to make them remember your brand. In a crowded market, they will make the difference between customers choosing you over your competition.