Oct 3, 2013

Embrace Your Category

Every industry has baggage. They have negative connotations, and undesirable characteristics.

But for all the negativity of your industry, embrace your category. Call your company what it is, and describe your brand in the language of your customers.

I cut my teeth in the recruiting industry. Recruiting is one of the most commoditized and competitive professional services sectors. The barriers to entry are very low, and the services are primarily sold on a contingency basis.

When I joined my family’s recruiting business in 2004, I attempted to eliminate the word “recruiting” from our marketing and sales materials. We offered high end services, and had exceptional client relationships. We weren’t “headhunters” or “bounty hunters”, we were professionals. I wanted to separate our firm from the herd.

I tried to find a sexier, more sophisticated way to position our services:

  • Talent management
  • Search consultants
  • Talent acquisition specialists

I tried them all. And they all failed.

Accept your industry

I may not have liked the negative connotations of my industry, but my customers were not looking for “talent acquisition specialists” or “search consultants”. They were looking for a recruiter, and more specifically they were looking for a sales recruiter.

I wasted 6 months trying to find a better way to describe my services, and it cost me sales.

As soon as I accepted the language of my customers the floodgates opened. It became easier for people to refer us, because they understood who we are and what we do. And the website transitioned from a brochure to a lead generation tool, because prospects could easily find us on Google.

Our sales spiked by simply understanding and embracing the language of our customers.

Speak in the language of your customers

Unless your like Starbucks or Apple, it’s unlikely you’re going to change the language of your customers. It takes a lot of time and marketing dollars to insert new words and phrases into an industry.

Instead of trying to find new and creative ways to describe your services, analyze how your customers communicate. How do your customers describe your industry? What words do they use? How do they find service providers in your category?

Save your time and money, and use the words and phrases your customers already know and understand.

Differentiate in the experience

Instead of differentiating in your service description and elevator pitch, differentiate in the customer experience. Help your customers experience and understand what makes your brand unique.

Why are your products better? What does your firm do differently? How do you help your clients achieve their goals?

This is what your customers really want to know. Create opportunities to help them understand what makes your firm unique, but stick to the basics when describing your business. Make it easy for your customers, and use their language.

Speaking in the language of your customers will make your brand more findable, referable, memorable and desirable.

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