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Go The Extra Mile – It's Never Crowded Step out of a crowded and competitive landscape by finding a clear differentiator that your customers understand and care about, and then going the extra mile for them.

By Andrew MacKenzie

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Today, if you don't stand for something, you run the risk of your price point being your only competitive advantage, and let's face it, for the majority of businesses, it's not sustainable.

Replicating a successful product or service is easy, which means that a new and unique product quickly moves from being extraordinary to being the norm.

Related: 5 Lessons to Take Your Start-up to Scale-up

Brands need to begin looking at adding an intangible value, rather than replicating functional value. Competition and commoditized markets have led to many brands sharing the same strengths, but to drive success, you have to find a unique competitive advantage.

Finding a Way to Offer Extra Value

Both B2B and B2C customers love brands that offer extra value. It's no longer a case of customers admiring an advert, and loving the brand. Branding today goes beyond beautiful visuals and a social media presence.

There are three fundamentals brand should tick off:

  • Have a clear understanding of your brand, how it lives internally through your staff and culture and how it's communicated.
  • Know who you are talking to. An in-depth understanding of your target market is essential, find out what their passions are.
  • How is your brand differentiated from your competitors?

Do You Have a Clear Differentiator?

The key to this question isn't whether you have a differentiator – most of us believe we do. It's whether your customers recognize and care about your differentiator.

Jeremy Miller identifies nine main areas of differentiation:

  1. Market responsiveness
  2. Product/service superiority
  3. Production efficiency
  4. Natural/Human Resources
  5. Market dominance
  6. Short term profit
  7. Method of sale
  8. Distribution method
  9. Technological advantage

To determine if your differentiator is clear, ask your team from the receptionist to senior management what your differentiator is.

Related: Why You Need to Start With Your Why to Build a Business That Matters

If you get different answers, you have a problem. Differentiation is about attracting and retaining customers, so try to be visionary and aspirational with your differentiator and build your business towards it.

Let it be what focusses your team, and how you compete in the market. Express your differentiator as a strategic choice for instance, if your differentiator falls into the superiority product area.

There are many possible strategic options you could leverage based on this, for example:

Product Superiority = Speed = Fastest car from 0 - 100km/h
Product Superiority = Strength = Most reliable engine
Product Superiority = Safety = 5 NCAP safety rating

Winning Differentiators Are Authentic

When identifying your differentiator, keep in mind that it should meet the following three criteria:

  • It must be true
  • It must resonate with your customers or target market
  • You have to prove it, and demonstrate that it's true, in other words, if you're going to talk the talk, then walk the walk.

It's not a question of ticking one of the three above; all should be true. You also want to make sure that the differentiator has relevance (be an important decision driver), that it is credible (that your brand can consistently deliver on it), and that it is unique (you can do it better than your competitors).

A unique differentiator provides impact for your brand; it helps you stand out from the competition; it connects you with your target market, and it builds long-term equity and stand-out value for your brand.

Take the time to find out what differentiates your brand and then go the extra mile. It will be well worth the effort when you step out of the crowded, and competitive landscape.

Related: How To Make Your First Million

Andrew MacKenzie

Managing Director, Boomtown

Andrew MacKenzie is the Managing Director of Boomtown, an innovative brand strategy company that helps clients differentiate themselves in competitive markets. With 22 years working in the advertising and marketing industry, Andrew relies on his experience across the board, from his graphic designer beginnings to his current role. Boomtown has multiple wins at the Loeries, Assegais, Clios, Epicas and under its belt. Visit http://boomtown.agency/

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