Jan 11, 2012

Why Do Your Customers Buy?

Why do your clients choose your brand?

Many people are quick to respond to this question. They’ll answer with the first thing that comes to mind: their client relationships, a unique product feature, their price point, or their company’s reputation. Their answer can be completely valid, but it always leads me to a second question: did this point of differentiation happen organically, or was it a result of a purposeful brand strategy?

Very few companies are clearly plotting out and managing their brand differentiation. Rather they’re letting the brand evolve organically as the business grows.

An organically created brand will only go so far. The big, distinctive brands have baked their differentiation into everything they do. It’s part of their DNA. Wal-Mart is the lowest cost provider. Zappos and Nordstrom are all about service. Apple delivers design. Whole Foods provides organic and natural foods. What about you?

How do you differentiate?

What’s the one thing you commit to, and bake into everything you do?

When we boil it down, this question is really asking what is the essence of your business. Why was the business created? What is it striving for? How is it impactful?

When you know your essence you can convert it into strategy. From the very beginning of Wal-Mart, Sam Walton focused on value. He wanted to bring the lowest prices to market, and tuned the business’s operations and services to this commitment. A similar energy can be seen in Zappos. Tony Hsieh quickly realized Zappos couldn’t compete on price, but they could thrive on delivering exceptional customer service. And again, customer service is baked into the operations and services of Zappos’ business model.

What does your company value? Figure it out, isolate that point of differentiation, and then bake it into everything you do. In this very crowded market, features and benefits are quickly copied. But a business that focuses its attention on one point of differentiation like design, low price, customer service or a commitment to the environment, is very hard to duplicate.

Customers are looking for brands with clear points of differentiation. The uniqueness and commitment of well-defined brands help customers cut through the clutter, and find the products and services that reflect their values.

Act with purpose

David Aaker wrote in Brand Relevance, “A winning strategy today may not prevail tomorrow. It might not even be relevant tomorrow.” He’s right. If you’re complacent, you’ll get left behind.

Why do your customers choose you? What makes your brand stand out and be remarkable? If you don’t manage your brand’s differentiation then you are being complacent.

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