Whether your small business provides a service or sells a good, you need to be leveraging your point of difference.
Have you ever even thought about your point of difference? Or are you in the Field of Dreams camp, in which you believe, “if you build it, they will come?”
Well, I’m here to tell you, the Field of Dreams camp is just that–a dream! Without leveraging a clear point of difference, your brand is the same as everyone else’s.
Now, don’t get me wrong, you MUST know your similarities as well (known in marketing circles as your Points Of Parity). If your product or service is not, at a minimum, on par with your competitor, you might want to go into the cornfield and build your baseball field right now.
But if you know your Points Of Parity, its time to explore your Points of Difference.
5 Questions to Ask to Help Point to Your Difference
I would like to say that it’s easy. And, it can be easy, but it does require a lot of thought. Thought that you may have not given much time to up until this point. So, let’s break it down into five simple questions that will kick start your Point Of Difference discovery.
Question #1: Who buys from you?
Seems simple enough. Who is your target audience? But, it requires more than an answer of something along the lines of ‘men, 25-54.” Because that really doesn’t mean anything when it comes to your Point Of Difference. So, the emphasis needs to be placed on exactly who. What types of consumers do you need to reach? What do they like? What do they want? What do they buy?
Question #2: Why does your consumer buy from you?
Again, simple, right? Well, the question isn’t why does anyone buy from you. But, why does your consumer buy from you? Pinpoint the traits that are specific to your target audience. Are you in a great location? Do you offer exceptional quality? Do you provide quick service? Are you readily available? The list can go on and on, but you need to focus on your consumer and their reasoning.
Question #3: Why does your consumer buy from you and NOT your competitor?
Seems like the same question as before, but it’s not. For example, if your company offers exceptional quality, but so does your competitor, that isn’t something you want to focus on. Isolate those items that are desired by your target customer and are unique to only you. And, put them in context of the market in which you compete in.
We’re done, right? We have your Point Of Difference. Well, no. At this point, you should have a list of qualities that are unique to your business and relevant to your audience. But, we have a few more questions to ask.
Question #4: Are any of your unique qualities sustainable?
This one is easiest explained through example. Let’s say you completed the exercise for questions 1-3. And, your most unique quality was that you were the only location in the area that offered your service. Well, what happens if six months down the road Company X opens a block from your location? You have lost your Point Of Difference. You can’t rely on unsustainable Points Of Differences.
Question #5: Are any of your unique qualities real?
Make sure your Point of Difference is real and exists currently. A tangible, quantitative Point Of Difference that can be proven. For example, “we offer great service” is not a real point of difference. It generally doesn’t mean or say anything about your company. How is your service superior to anyone else’s service? But, “we can deliver your pizza in 30 minutes or less” is a service-oriented point of difference that is quantitative and real. So, avoid the flowery, conceptual points of difference.
Once you have established your point of difference, you are well on your way to success, but always remember that your point of difference is not written in stone. The market changes, products change, the world changes. You have to be willing to change as well.