Too many businesses, in an effort to compete, miss the mark in what it takes to truly differentiate themselves. If you are using your competition as a template for what you think you should be doing, then you will always be following, and will more likely get left in the dust of "not knowing what you didn't know."Companies that truly excel against competition are willing to put their offerings and how they approach doing business on the line.
These businesses are willing to be disruptive, and do the unexpected or disregarded because their focus is first and foremost on their customers and being a resource unlike any other option out there.
How can you be more disruptive within your industry or against competition to demonstrate your business is different and worth patronizing?
1. Raise the Bar: If you are in business because you believe you can do it better, faster, smarter, or at a higher quality, then make this a key focus in all your messaging and how you operate your business. Get specific on how you are raising the bar of excellence and what this will mean to and for your customer. Be willing to call out practices of competitors that are not serving customers well. You can do this without naming a specific competitor. Merely being willing to put the challenge out there sets you apart from everyone, because you were willing to do it first.
2. Take a Stand: Just because everyone in your industry is doing things a particular way doesn’t mean it is the right or only way. Those businesses that determine that status quo, or "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" just isn’t cutting it any more are the businesses that grab attention and market share. How can you demonstrate that your business has evolved beyond the norm into a new stratosphere of consciousness and competency when it comes to serving your market and operating?
3. Advocate Change: Is there something occurring in your community, industry or marketplace that is having or could have a concerning or negative impact? Be the business that leads the charge towards advocating change. When you are willing to step up and be heard as a voice for others who may not be able to or don't have the confidence to lead the charge, you are demonstrating that you care about more than just your bottom line.
4. Build a Bridge: What if your industry is suffering as a whole? Be the business that rallies the industry to collaborate and cooperate in order to collectively engage in identifying ways to see forward and beyond the current state of affairs. Share with your customers how you are taking the lead in evolving the industry for its greater good and to better serve its markets.
5. Leverage Integrity: Are you in an industry where it seems everyone is believed to be a low-life, fast-talking, untrustworthy, unreliable, all-about-the-sale mentality? Or has a recent crisis, that has received media-frenzied attention, resulted in a shift in trust related to anyone doing business in your industry? If you are willing to draw a line in the sand about what is acceptable and not acceptable, then challenging the integrity of your industry as a whole can be a hotbed of opportunity for differentiation. Whether its guaranteeing your work, a call back within a certain period of time, or being more transparent in how you conduct business, you are allowing what everyone else is doing wrong to confirm how you do it right.
Being strategically disruptive is the most important thing to understand when attempting to raise the bar, take a stand, advocate change, build a bridge or leverage integrity. If it is not strategically thought through, then it may appear like lip service, or worse yet, no one will see the value in your disruptive stance. Make sure the why and why it matters is clearly communicated, and then build a solid strategy behind it to give it true wings to help your business soar against competitors.
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.