Defining Your Market Differentiators
What’s really different about your business? It’s not uncommon to hear a plumber say “I do everything” or a lanscaper to say “I do the same things as every other landscaper”. If that’s so, your marketing has either come to an abrupt end – pack it up and go home – you’ll have to survive without it – or it’s just beginning because, starting from nothing is different is a great way to *begin* your marketing.
First, if it’s really true that you’re not doing anything any differently than anyone else in your field, then why should anyone pick you over anyone else? Sometimes the answer is, “I don’t know. You’re the marketing guy, you tell me.” All right, I will. There isn’t any reason. There isn’t any reason, and mere SEO isn’t going to help you. All those SEO gurus out there selling you on how you’ll be first? No you won’t – the guy who is different will get more business than you.
Second, often it’s just a lack of imagination. Someone once said, “all real estate appraisers do the same thing.” Really? Are you sure? I’ve dealt with a ton of them, and I can tell you that is absolutely not true. Your competitors are coming up with unique ways to add value all the time, because that’s how they’re getting clients that you are not. Some people guarantee a response to all queries within 6 hours. Some guarantee one-day turnaround on any drive-by appraisal. Some include satellite photos with every report. Some send all reports by both PDF and mail. Some include a 3D sketch. It’s not that hard. Useless, you say? Really? Their clients don’t think so.
You should get a copy of The Purple Cow by Seth Godin. And if you can’t take advice on learning something new, frankly, you don’t deserve new clients, so I feel free to recommend books here. Seth will give you a lot of case histories of companies that did unusual things that didn’t even necessarily add tangible value. Some added perceived value, some added a perk, some added just something to get attention. That’s the purple cow. It works, folks. It really does.
In a related profession, Home Inspector, there are a lot of people who focus on just the report. “What?” they ask. “Should I use a bigger font?” Maybe. I’ve known one professional whose secret was the quality of the deliverable. It was full color, highly illustrated, graphic bullets, and clean, clear headers, etc. Clients gave him referral business by showing off the quality of his reports vs. his competitors. So did it make a difference? Hell yeah! What about the inspector that includes infrared imagery? “Silly gadgetry,” I’ve heard some grumble. So? So freaking what? He’s being silly all the way to the bank, while you’re just clowning around trying to pay for more directory listings. It makes him stand out. It makes him rock in the eyes of the people shelling out cash for his work. So even if he spends $750 on the tool and doesn’t charge a dime more for his reports, how much is one more referral source worth to you? If you’re in his business, it had better be worth more than that or you’re seriously underpaid.
Third, market differentiators aren’t horse manure. They’re actions. Put verbs on them. If it doesn’t come with an “I include,” “I deliver”, “I provide,” it’s not a market differentiator. People aren’t buying more talk, they’re buying action. If your market differentiators run something like this, “we have the experience, the quality, to deliver in an ethical, full-service environment… blah blah blah” then yeah, you’re just like everybody else. You’ve got to find your purple cow. Even if it’s just a professionally produced report cover, or something. But the best market differentiators are ones that you can describe – on your web site, in your e-mail tagline, in your voice mail (you *are* using those for marketing, aren’t you?). The best differentiators are ones that, even if a client says “I don’t need that.” you can respond with a warm smile, “That’s OK. It’s just one of the little premium extras we like to provide our clients at no extra cost.” Now that’s kick-ass marketing!
So do it now. Sit down and create three things you do differently that the client can see. If you get 2, give yourself a B. If you got none, then it’s time to decide on what they’re going to be. You can’t sell boredom, sameness, blandness, and ‘the usual’ in restaurants. Even McDonalds is always trying to add something new. You can’t sell “our cars have indistinct, non-descript lines, ordinary motors, suspensions, and wheels” unless you’re also saying (ahem… Kia) that you’re kicking in a 10year warranty, a super low price, and a refund program. And if you wouldn’t buy it, why would anyone else? Get on it! Go sit down in a cafe, send the waitress away to avoid interruption, and write down whatever comes to mind in a notebook. It may quite possibly be the best hour you’ll ever spend on your marketing. And we’re here, not to tout ourselves, but if you need consulting time to help nail some of this down, we can do that. We succeed for one reason – well, two – we’ll tell you the truth rather than sell you a false instant fix – and our only goal is your success. If we think about that, and that alone, people will take care of us. This might give you a hint at some of our marketing differentiators.