What Makes Your Business Unique and Why Is That Important?

I will often ask a client to complete the following sentence: “Our business is the only one that _____.” Or “I am the only one who _____.” What makes your business unique and why is that important?

Differentiation is the key to effective marketing. The key to effective marketing is not clever ads. It is having clear advantages over your competition and then powerfully communicating those advantages.

You can run all the expensive ads you want, hire publicists, attend trade shows, build slick web sites, but if you do not have concrete differences in who you are or what you do, you are just shouting louder. Effective marketing is based on real advantages for potential customers to do business with you. The marketing tools of advertising and promotion are just ways of carrying that message to those clients. Customers are not interested in how big your promotion budget is, they want to know why they should pick you over some other. This is differentiation.

Quality and Service

Most of the time, clients will say, “we have better service,” or, “we have better quality.” That is fine. Better service and quality are important, but every company claims to have these. If you are going to use quality and service as differentiators, what you do that is better needs to be clearly and demonstrably different and your claim backed up by specifics.

Two Personal Examples

I like men’s shirts from Lands’ End, the catalog merchants. They fit well and seem to last forever. Once, a seam came slightly unraveled after many months of wear. Their policy is “Guaranteed, period.” I called them and they immediately replaced the shirt, no questions asked.

Another time, I had an old but expensive down jacket from North Face that after 15 years of hard use, had a broken zipper. I took it back to North Face to see if they could fix it in 2 days so that I could use it for a ski trip that very weekend. Not only did they fix it, but they did not charge me for the repair.  Their answer to my question about why they were not charging me was, “It is a North Face.”

Now that is a real difference—quality and service so exceptional that customers will tell stories about how good you are for years afterward.