What’s left of your business if you remove you? If you were to go to your website, collateral or even your personal sales pitch and remove everything that counted as personal branding, what would be left? Your beautiful logo, carefully selected corporate colors and masterfully designed UX and interface, all gone. What is left of your message?
I think you’ll notice what most businesses do: Most of their messaging is advertising for their industry, not them. It’s extolling the need for the service category they provide. In fact, much of their own sales material could be (and is being) copied and pasted from their own collateral and pasted into their competitors without so much as a modified pronoun.
Their message doesn’t explain why they’re valuable. Their message merely sells their potential clients and customers on the problem but does little to extol why they are the solution.
A friend and colleague at a large agency once said: “If you can’t tell me how your company is different than everyone else in your space, then I don’t care anything about you. But don’t worry; if that sounds harsh I’m only speaking the mind of everyone who will come in contact with your brand.”
Brand agility, dynamic UX and interface, an aggressive and automated marketing plan, cute branded mascots and the inside track on every major competitor in town are all powerful but do not replace genuine brand differentiation. Who are you? And why do I care?
Be the solution to your client’s problem.
This only matters to them if they already know they have a problem. There is merit in an awareness campaign for an issue your customer may not be aware of, but advertising for the problem has risks.
Be the only solution that does what you do.
We all have competitors, but if they were right for everyone there wouldn’t be a need for you. Make sure there is a need for you. That reason can’t be “to make lots of money.” Reports show millennials and the rising Generation Z are more driven by emotional resonance, happiness, culture and a good fit. You need to connect. Be the only one who offers what you offer.
Be the right solution for them, not for you.
Selling people what you have to sell instead of what they should buy is another way to send repeat business to your competitor. This is nothing new; trust is your secret weapon. Turn down the up-sale and make sure everything you offer is for their needs, not yours.
People come with the mentality that “I Googled it, so I already know what the solution is.” The fact of the matter is, we live in a world of information and 15 minutes on Wikipedia can make anyone an “expert.”
If you are a service provider, what do you offer that a YouTube tutorial can’t replace? If you are a products company, what are the people using your competitors’ products missing out by bypassing you?
There is a positive trend in America’s mentality that is both long overdue and not moving quite fast enough. Business owners of the past (and the remnants stand today) believed that business was about the bottom line: making money. But money is the result of the value you provide. If you measure your success by your income, it is a valid metric, but it leaves an amazing amount of opportunity on the table for growth and more income. If you measure your success by your output of value, you stand to draw in a larger customer base with a longer customer lifespan and more loyalty.
Equating value and cost is a mistake. Are you advertising your cost? Or your value? If your message is that you provide a service for a problem at a lower cost, you are advertising a problem, a proposed solution and a comparative baseline.
All your competitor needs to do is provide value beyond yours. In a bidding war, this sends our prices straight to the bottom. In a value war, this skyrockets our prices to the top. Which pool do you want to be in?
Are you advertising for your opposition by setting a baseline, or giving your competition a bar to clear?