Every business has competition. It doesn’t matter if you have 5 competitors or 5000, you have to be able to distinguish your business, ala your brand, from your competition. I recently spoke with a national company that couldn’t articulate anything about their brand. They had no branding strategy. If you have this problem you’re screwed!
Here’s what happened: I met with a CEO who’s been in business for over 20 years and she’s stuck. We started talking about marketing (of course) and I asked some basic questions.
We identified a few of her key competitors, with comparable pricing strategies, similar target markets, etc. This applies to most businesses doesn’t it? Doesn’t this sound like your business? Note: I’m not talking about those companies that compete primarily on price. That’s another discussion for another day.
As I learned more about her business, I asked her
“why would I buy your product instead of your competitor’s product?”
Dead silence. No description of features, benefits. Nothing. Uh oh.
Fortunately I had observed and talked to her enough to answer for her. But I wasn’t going to let her off the hook that easily. We were facing an empty table, so I walked over to the table and pointed to 3 imaginary boxes.
Then I said, “We have Brand A, Brand B, and your brand, we’ll call it Brand C. Three brands straight out of the box. All the products basically do the same thing, with minimal difference in functionality. Why am I going to buy your box instead of another box?”
Dead silence. Again. No wonder she’s stuck.
Based on my few hours of working with her, I answered the question. I told her I would buy her box because she “puts the shiny on her box” (my exact words). No other box can deliver her level of client service, her accessibility, her industry knowledge, etc. All factors that are important to her clients and make her box shine and stand out from her competitors. In other words, she’s the powerhouse behind the brand, and her shiny sells the product!
Once I gave my brief answer to the question, her eyes lit up and she started describing her company in great detail. We had plenty to work with to develop her company’s branding strategy, based on a few critical factors that distinguish her from her competition.
Now think about it, this woman’s company has been successful for over 20 years. But she’s faced with stagnant growth, and she couldn’t identify key factors to differentiate herself from the competition. There was no branding strategy. No wonder she’s stuck!
Her box really looks more like this one, and nothing like the bland box she thought she had!
Does this sound familiar to you? Have you faced this challenge? This happens to big and small companies alike. So to all of you small business owners and solopreneurs, you’re not alone in your marketing challenges. But you have to fix them!
No matter how much of a commodity you offer, always remember
You make the shiny!
When I told my CEO friend this, her smile turned into a laugh, and she said “Yes, that’s it!”. She realized her own value, her unique brand, and could articulate it more clearly. It finally clicked! She could see her own shiny, and she could see mine. SCORE!
Question: Are you a plain box or a shiny box?