Mid-market companies can often differentiate their brands by doing a great job. As Mike George, CEO of Trisura, says, “If the big companies did everything right, there wouldn’t be room for us.”
But what do you do when that’s not the case? How do you differentiate your brand when all of your competitors do an amazing job?
This is the unique challenge campgrounds and resorts face. On Monday I delivered the opening keynote at Camping in Ontario’s Annual Convention. I was blown away by the caliber of these businesses. Their average is hard to beat.
Raise the bar for everyone
Part of my process when I speak at a convention is to understand the audience I am presenting to. I analyze the industry and interview several of its members to learn about their branding and marketing challenges.
Camping in Ontario is an association for campgrounds and resorts, and its members have a unique branding challenge. As an industry group, they have raised their standards of practice to exceedingly high levels.
Clean, friendly, well-run parks situated in beautiful places are not differentiators anymore, they are table stakes. They are the basics for operating in their industry.
Communities make brands sticky
Companies traditionally differentiate their brands in two ways:
- Focus on a niche: They Tilt the Odds by becoming recognized as the leader of a niche market.
- Offer value add services: They combine and add services to their core offering to create Function That Resonates. This is usually a question of 1 + 1 = 3.
But once a company has exhausted these two options, it has to dig deeper. It has to go beyond its services and focus on their customers to build a community.
Communities are one of the most effective ways to differentiate a brand, because they are based on relationships. Communities are focused on the human experiences. They are focused on the intangible side of your business.
And these community experiences are highly unique and highly scalable. When you commit to a community it can grow into one of your company’s most important assets.
Communities build lasting bonds
Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
It’s these feelings that are so powerful. When you can’t differentiate your brand based on your products or services, focus on the human experiences. Bring people together to connect with one another. Bring them together to share experiences.
Those experiences will stick with them, and create a bond with your brand that can last a lifetime.