If You’re Not Unique, You’re a Commodity. Why You Need to Stand Out.

For businesses of any size, the ability to communicate to prospects and customers about why you’re different, and better, in ways that are meaningful to them is critical. Many fail to do so effectively, however. One key issue we often find with clients is a tendency to be too internally focused — they communicate with their audiences in ways that are meaningful to their business, but that may not be so meaningful to their customers.

For example, a telecommunications firm we worked with had a target of entrepreneurs and small business owners. Their website and communication materials focused exclusively on the technology behind their service offerings. Do small business owners and entrepreneurs really care about the intricacies of telephony technology? No. They care about what the technology does for them. And, to move this a step further, they care about what it does for them better than other competing offerings.

It’s like the old Victor Kiam story. Kiam was a very successful entrepreneur who, at one point in his life, bought the Remington shaver company. In his marketing approach, he made the point that he wasn’t selling a shaver — he was selling a smooth shave.

Marketers must do three things very effectively to avoid being considered a commodity in the eyes of their target customers:

1) Understand what matters to those target customers. What’s important to them? What keeps them up at night?

2) Understand who your competition is and how what you have to offer can be positioned relative to what they have to offer.

3) Understand — and translate — how what you have to offer can meet those needs. Not in terms of features (e.g. “our razor blades are made of XYZ mumbo-jumbo titanium…”), but in terms of benefits, like Remington’s smooth shave.

It’s really all about shifting your language from your point-of-view to your target market’s point-of-view, which is, admittedly, often difficult to do. Those who are enmeshed in their company and its products and services often have a hard time seeing things “from the inside out.” That’s why they need consultants like us!

What does your market want from you? What other alternatives are available to them to meet their needs? How can you position what you have to offer as better than those alternatives in ways that not only will resonate with your audience, but also will cause them to take some desired action (to do, think or believe something)?


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