by Kent Covington
Your customers have choices. How do you convince them that your company is a better choice than your competitors?
When a politician tells you that he is honest and will go to bat for the working man, do you automatically believe him? No? Why not? If you’re like most Americans, you don’t trust a politician when he says such things because THEY ALL SAY THAT! They ALL tell you how they are motivated to run for office, not for selfish reasons, but to give back to their country or their community. Some politicians are telling the truth when they say these things. Some aren’t. But they all make the same claims.
So what does it mean to buyers when you promise a “friendly knowledgeable staff”, “superior customer service”, or “competitive pricing”? Well the fact is, just about every company in North America makes those same claims, so such promises mean very little to the average consumer.
Telling buyers that you do the exact same things as your competitor… only better, is not a differentiating idea. It is a hollow claim. It doesn’t matter if it’s true; it’s still a hollow claim. And besides… aren’t these traits just the price of entry? Shouldn’t customers EXPECT a friendly, knowledgeable staff and competitive pricing?
When my family and I moved to the Atlanta area several years ago, I had to choose a new bank. All of the banks around here (and pretty much everywhere else for that matter) say things like “Come and see the difference personal service can make”… “We’re community minded”… and “Our people make the difference”.
In the end, I chose a bank that advertised “More ATM locations than any other bank in town”. While other banks were chanting meaningless clichés and generalities, this bank offered me a specific benefit that no one else was offering. All else being (apparently) equal, the convenience of having many ATM locations was appealing.
One of the most powerful things you can do in business is to offer a truly unique benefit. Give your customers an advantage that will make their lives easier, their businesses more profitable, or both! If you want to leave your competitors in the dust, develop a powerful differentiating idea.
Whatever idea you choose must meet the following 3 criteria:
1 – It must be something none of your competitors can say.
2 – It must describe a valuable benefit. It has to be something that is important to your prospective customers.
3 – It must be concrete and easily proven. Don’t make vague claims that can’t be quantified, such as “best service in town”. Make your claim specific. When a bank says “more ATM locations than any other bank”, or “if you ever wait in line more than 5 minutes, we’ll buy you lunch at…” those are concrete claims that are supported by facts or a specific guarantee.
Here’s a thought… why not steal a page from the aforementioned bank’s playbook, and be the most convenient option in town?
Find out what time your competitors open, and open an hour earlier. What time do they close? Close an hour later. Does your competition offer free delivery? If so, then you should offer extended delivery hours, more delivery trucks, and deliver faster than other companies.
“We’re open earlier... we close later, and have more free delivery trucks on the road than any other supply company in town.”
“ANYTOWN ABC COMPANY... NO ONE MAKES IT EASIER TO GET THE SUPPLIES YOU NEED!”
NOW I’m convinced. You’ve just told me something very specific; something that benefits me (the customer), and something that none of your competitors can say.
Of course, you can only say this if you’re willing to do what it takes to make it true. Sure, it might require a small investment on your part to extend your hours of operation by an hour or two, or the “go the extra mile” (no pun intended… well, ok, maybe a little) on delivery. However, the benefit of being able to say something your competition can’t say will likely outweigh the cost of providing that service, many times over.
Dare to be different. Set your company apart from your competitors. THAT is how you convince buyers to spend their money with you.