Even if you can’t differentiate your brand on your products, you can differentiate it with your people.
Claude-André Pouliot is the President of Macpek, one of Canada’s largest distributors of truck parts. He says, “The way our industry is built is extremely competitive. In truck parts we cannot differentiate ourselves with our products, because the products we have could be found at ten other distributors. We cannot say, ‘our product is better than yours,’ because it’s the same product. It’s coming from the same manufacturer, it has the same part number, it has the same everything.”
“So one of the primary ways we differentiate ourselves is with our relationships with our customers, and finding ways to get closer to them,” continues Claude-André.
Stand out with a big event
Macpek gets closer to their clients and suppliers by being very service oriented, but also by being a little bit different.
For example, they celebrated their fortieth anniversary in May 2014 with a 320 kilometer relay-race from Mont Tremblant to their head office in Quebec City. Claude-André explains, “Each participant ran 10K four times, which was the equivalent of a marathon in a 48 hour period.”
50 of Macpek’s 170 employees ran the full marathon, and they had over 650 people join them at the finish line. It was an exciting way to finish the race. “10K from the finish line 300 people joined the marathon runners, and at the 5K mark another 350 people joined us. It was very inspiring and emotional.”
Events connect people with people
Macpek’s event supports a corporate philosophy of having “a healthy mind and a healthy body,” but it was also an excellent platform for building and nurturing client relationships.
Claude-André explains, “We involved our customers, our suppliers, our families and our friends in the race. The event was amazing for the chemistry of the business. It invigorated the passion, respect and camaraderie of the team.”
The employees trained together every week, and that created a buzz that travelled well beyond the walls of the company. They involved their community, and the event became a lightening rod to reinforce Macpek’s brand in their marketplace.
Those personal connections separate Macpek. Their people and their relationships are an asset for the business, and they differentiate them from their competitors. And their customers choose them first, because they have a personal connection with Macpek and its employees.
Perceived as a little bit different
A big event is a powerful way to shift perceptions of your brand.
Claude-André says, “We are perceived as being different, because we like to engage people. We want to build our relationships with our employees, customers and vendors at the heart level. Instead of being only about numbers and brains, we want them to emotionally know us better.”
Relationships are a powerful differentiator, because they are very human. People buy from people. And a big event is an ideal opportunity to build those bonds.