— It’s our people;
— It’s our quality;
— It’s our customer service;
— Or even, we listen to your needs.
Unfortunately, those buzzwords are not compelling answers. In fact, your competitors probably use them too. All businesses need good people, high quality and excellent customer service – and if a business isn’t listening to customer needs, it won’t stay in business long. These claims? Simply table stakes.
Your prospects hear the same story from your competitors. They tune out those familiar buzzwords (think of the how adults sound in a Peanut cartoon) , leaving you to compete on price. And growth is difficult.
The companies that go beyond table stakes earn higher margins.
Take Cordell & Cordell – a growing national law firm – that avoids the “we fight for you” claim common among other law firms. Instead, Cordell & Cordell distinguishes its practice from the competition by promising to “… help men keep their rights and succeed in family court.” When the firm’s target market hears this message, they understand that this firm caters to men and puts them first – and price becomes a secondary consideration. There ads on a local Cincinnati radio station I listen to always stand out (even though I’m happily married . . . ). Cordell & Cordell has become one of the largest divorce law firms in the nation with offices across the country.
And when MN8-Foxfire – a Cincinnati-based fire fighter safety equipment company – is asked by Fire Departments, “Why should I buy from you?” They have a powerful answer: “Because we are fire fighters helping other fire fighters stay safe.” With an army of part-time fire-fighter sales people all over the United States, MN8-Foxfire’s strategy is meaningful and unique. Quality products? Of course, but instead of stating the obvious, MN8-Foxfire earns the trust of prospects who believe that fire fighters would only sell safety equipment that they would use themselves. (MN8-Foxfire’s strategy also uses another key Big Strategy Principle — Compete Differently. Their strategy is making it very difficult for larger fire safety equipment manufacturers to compete with their fire-fighter-to-fire-fighter business model.)
But remember, it takes more than marketing puffery to compete meaningfully. It has to be part of your very fiber, connected to your strategy, linked to all your products and services including how you sell, how you market and how you innovate. It’s your signature strength and needs to be backed up by your internal capabilities.
So, if you want to compete more meaningfully, ask yourself:
- What do you do that is actually unique?
- What gives you the right to charge more?
- Can you overtly and clearly state the value you bring to customers?
It takes time to really nail the answers to these questions. Get your team together. Run your early thoughts past your customers. Refine. Take your time. Because the payoff of getting this right is winning more business at higher prices.
Need help finding a better way to compete? Check out my Quick Start Strategy Consulting that includes an audit of your current strategy and a draft of higher-performing strategy options.