How to stop struggling to explain why you are different

How to stop struggling to explain why you are different

It should be the easiest thing in the world to tell people why your business is different. After all, there is no business exactly like yours, right?

So why do only two out of ten businesses tell me differentiation isn’t an issue for them? 

I recently surveyed 79 businesses about their biggest issues, and along with knowing how to win more business (acquisition) and getting people to take action sooner (procrastination), differentiation was the biggest problem.

Differentiation is one of the biggest issues for SMEs

You hear it all the time at networking events.

Question: “So what makes your accounting/IT/web design/architecture/legal/marketing/coaching/hairdressing/retail firm different?”

Answer: “Umm, I’d say it’s the relationships we have with our clients.”

             “Umm, I’d say it’s our customer service.”

             “Umm, probably our process.”

Who knows, these things might be right, but they are meaningless when you are trying to win new customers. A prospective client hasn’t yet experienced what it is like to have a relationship with your business so that is not something that they can value. They haven’t any clue what customer service they will need from you, so they can’t use this claim as a reason to choose you over your competitor. And customers don’t care about process; they care about what gets delivered.

How does this impact your business?

Aside from feeling awkward at networking events, your website is one place your prospective customers would expect you to be able to communicate your differentiation. However, every website I have reviewed over the past year (and that’s almost one a week) has been losing customers due to one significant gap: no clear value proposition. It’s either absent, meaningless or, worst of all, replaced by useless rotating images.

Communicating Your Value is the second of my “5 Essentials for an Effective Website” and the one that proves whether the business knows itself and knows its customers. The absence of a value proposition means people are landing on these sites and being left to work it out themselves. And guess what? They leave instead.

So what gets them to stick around?

Knowing you know what they need and being interested in how you can help. That’s your value proposition. It’s how you succinctly articulate to your prospective customer how you – and only you – can help them resolve their issue. 

Crafting your value proposition

To craft your value proposition you need to start with the state of mind your customer will be in, and that’s problem-solving. They wouldn’t be in market if they didn’t want to resolve something, so you need to communicate that you are on their wavelength, that you understand the issue that they are dealing with.

Then you need to communicate that you have the solution to the problem, and why only you can meet their needs.

It’s hard but also the best thing you can do for your business

As I tell my clients when I’m crafting their propositions, coming up with the statement is probably the hardest thing you can do because it takes some serious thinking and behavioural wordsmithing.

But it’s also the most important element because not only does your value proposition resolve differentiation as an issue, it goes a long way to resolving the other two big issues businesses face; how to win more business and how to get people to take action sooner. And once you have your value proposition right, it will feel like your whole marketing program has fallen into place. 

More on how to nail your value proposition and never fear telling people what makes your business different ever again is available to you on my site here.

Bri Williams runs People Patterns, a consultancy specialising in the application of behavioural economics to everyday business issues.


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