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What Will Make Your Company Different From Its Competitors This Year?

Every company, regardless of its size or industry, has the opportunity the make itself consciously different from its competitors. That’s the good news. The bad news is that it is difficult and frustrating. The biggest problem is to avoid proclaiming your differences in terms of things that are important to you-you are “convenient,” your widget is better, you work harder, etc. Success can come from those things but only if they are important to your customers and prospects. So here is an exercise you can utilize to develop differentiation strategies and messages that resonate positively with the people with whom you want to do business. The exercise can also get your employees on board with how the company they work for is different and better than the competition.

Start with listing the things you think make your company different and keep it private for now. Then ask your employees why they think the company is different from its competitors. Depending on how many employees you ask, you will have to analyze the patterns in their responses and boil them down into a shorter list. Keep that list private for now. Finally, ask the customers that best represent the people or companies you want to do business with why they think your company is different and better.

There are two keys to this step: First, ask open-ended questions that require responses beyond “yes” or “no.” This will reduce the chances that you will bias the answers towards your own ideas. Second, pay close attention to the language and terms that they use, because they will be key to developing the messages you put out to attract others through advertising, search engine optimization and social medial strategies. This step will be a large effort in analysis and pattern recognition.

When you have the results of all three steps, compare your list, the employee list and the customer list for similarities and differences. The customer list will determine your external messaging. The differences between the customer list and the internal lists will guide employee training and reinforcement.