Is your difference compelling enough?

Confirming your company’s distinctions is critical to your business growth and increased value in the marketplace. Too many companies fall short in this area, even though on the surface level, they may believe they have distinguished themselves. The key is to set your company apart from competitors in a compelling, customer-centric way. Here are steps to take to create depth of distinction in your company:


1. Ask & Listen: Ask and listen to what people are saying and thinking. Better yet, get someone outside of your business to ask, listen and then disseminate what is learned so you can receive it openly and without preconceived notions or biases. Get insight from your employees, suppliers, vendors, and most important, your customers. Include some past customers in the mix too. In addition to asking what they believe distinguishes your company, also ask what they believe would distinguish a company within your industry that is not currently happening. You may be surprised by the answer.


2. Assess & Discuss: Compile the feedback in a manner that it can be reviewed as a whole and not in pieces so you can begin to see any trends, identify areas of distinction that are your strengths and others that are worth exploring. Discuss these distinctions from a branding, operational and marketing perspective. What will they look like, feel like, and act like within your company?


3. Create & Cultivate: Create a compelling story to back each one of your distinctions up. Confirm they truly are what matters to your customers through testimonials, case studies and success stories. Confirm they truly are what can be embraced by your employees and suppliers through ongoing participation and promotion by everyone in the company. Confirm how they can stand the test of time in the marketplace. Dig deeper into what they mean as it relates to your business’ mission and ultimate reason for existing. 


4. Reinforce & Accentuate: Being different for the sake of appearing to be different won’t cut it with most customers any more. What distinguishes you should be an ongoing practice that continues to flourish and even become more pronounced as you continue to find ways to elevate these aspects of distinction within your business. 


5. Share & Care: Make sharing your distinctions a priority in all communications, promotions and information about your company. Set standards in your company to assure that that what makes you different and preferential over others is protected and continually monitored for effectiveness. Maintain these standards with care and attention by everyone in your company.


Depth of distinction reinforced by actions, activity and results speaks volumes and get customers, employees and even the marketplace speaking volumes on your behalf. When what makes you different also makes a real difference for who you serve, there is no limit to where it can take your company.

Sherré DeMao is author of the nationally acclaimed books, 50 Marketing Secrets of Growth Companies in Down Economic Times, www.50marketingsecrets.com, and Me, Myself & Inc., www.memyselfandinc.com, Her column seeks to help business owners build and grow sustainable enterprises and businesses with economic value and preference in the marketplace.