A lot of marketing is misguided, because it focuses on explaining what a company does and its service category. You can’t differentiate your business based on what you do.
For example I recently attended a networking event where all the participants got up and shared a short overview on their businesses. One of the attendees was an accountant. When it was his turn to speak he said, “We’re a fast growing full-service accounting firm. We work with mid-size, owner-operated companies with revenue between $5 million and $50 million and have between 20 and 100 employees.”
The accountant delivered a concise, well-crafted message that clearly stated what his company did and the profile of clients they served. But I walked away thinking I don’t know when to refer him. He seemed nice and credible, but I couldn’t distinguish him from all the other accounting firms I know.
There’s always an alternative to you
The problem with marketing what you do is there’s always an alternative. We all have competitors – people or companies that offer comparable products and services. Broadcasting to the world what you do does not distinguish you from any of the alternatives.
Even if you create a new product or service, or come up with a fancy new feature, it still won’t distinguish you for very long. If the service takes off you can guarantee the competition will imitate it very quickly. In the digital-age mimicry is par for the course.
What do you do better than anyone else?
To stand out like an orange tree in an evergreen forest requires a different approach. It requires investing in and marketing your core skills and assets, and letting the world know what your company is best at.
An asset is something your company possesses such as your equipment, branch locations, trademarks and patents, or name recognition. For example Apple’s name and brand reputation is a huge asset. They can take risks on new products and categories, because they have a loyal customer base who will buy their products even if they’re unproven.
A skill is something your company does better than the competition. For example Zappos.com differentiates itself on customer service. You can buy shoes anywhere, but you won’t find the same commitment to customer service. They know what they are the best in the world at, and they invest in it purposefully. And concurrently they evangelize and market their core skills in customer service as a key differentiator.
Your core skills and assets are the foundation of your brand and your business model. When you know what your company is the best at then you can invest in it purposefully. And more importantly you can value and protect your skills and assets, because they’re how you deliver value to your customers.
Differentiation starts inside
What are your company’s core skills and assets? What do you do better than your competitors?
When you know what you’re best at you can share that story with the world. And that story of your core skills and assets will separate you from the competition.