Strategies for Winning – Dare to be Different

How do you dare to be different? Do you follow the pack or stand proudly apart from your competition? In business, those that identify, define and clearly communicate their uniqueness have a significant edge over those who choose to stay among the herd.

It’s called your Unique Selling Proposition. Every business needs a USP. In reality, few businesses ever take the time to develop one or worse, end up with a USP that is so ‘me too’ it merely cements their standing as a follower. Here is a great 4-step process to help you develop your truly Unique Selling Proposition.

In Prosperity,

Ormond  Rankin


Differentiation is Key

At this time, I tend to hear significantly more about how important price is. Many business people are complaining about having to compete on price daily! Are you a “me too”? Do your prospective customers know why they should buy from you rather than from your competitors?

If your customers can’t see any significant difference between you and your competition, the only reliable basis you will have for consistently winning business is price-and that road ultimately leads to disaster. Selling on price is selling to your competitors’ strengths.

You can differentiate your offerings using the following four steps.

1. Look at How You Stack Up to Your Competition

What can you do that they can’t? What do you do distinctly better? What can they do that you can’t? Look at your product or service using five main headings, seeking your particular strengths and your competitors’ particular weaknesses.

  • Price: Are your products more or less expensive? Are you considered to be at the top, middle or low end of the spectrum in your market? Is your pricing policy something that sets you apart from your competitors?
  • Customer  Service: Is your customer service unique? Do you provide more implementation assistance? Better ongoing backup?  Friendlier staff? More attractive terms of service? Better delivery?
  • Customers: Who are your best customers? Who are the people for whom you can do the best job and still make a respectable margin? Are you best with large, medium or small customers? Do you fare better in long-term relationships or short-term flings? Are you local, national or international (or all three)? Who are your ideal customers?
  • Product/Service: Are your products or services superior to those of your competitors? Are they faster, more efficient, quieter, easier to understand, easier to use, or      quicker to set up? Anything that is unique about your product or service is an advantage.
  • Reputation: What’s your brand reputation like? How well-known is your brand? By whom? For what? Who is traditionally attracted to your offerings?

This exercise should ideally involve anyone in your organization who can offer insight into how you stack up against your competition. Resist the temptation to do it alone-the more minds, the merrier. As you work through the exercise, capture your outcome on paper. For each of the five categories above, put your analysis on a sheet with two columns-Strengths and Weaknesses.

The mistake most people make at this stage is differentiating their business according to the category in which they are most strongly positioned against their competitors. This is a mistake, for it fails to take into account the most important person of all-your customer.

2. Become Your Customer and Think “WIIFM?” 

In other words, look from your customer’s view and think what’s in it for me? For example, what makes the difference between a good accountant and a mediocre one? If a prospect says they want good backup service, be sure that you understand what they mean by that.

3. Now Decide How to Differentiate Yourself 

Analyze the five factors that you considered above. Which category is by far the strongest-the one with the most compelling list of strengths and fewest weaknesses? Which category ranks second, third and so on? Now, using the research you conducted in Step 2, determine which of the five factors will interest your customers the most. There is no point in presenting yourself as the lowest price if your customer thinks that price is immaterial and that quality and service are most important; or there’s no point in stressing your excellent backup service if the customer can’t afford your price.

You will know you’ve been successful when you have identified some categories that represent areas in which you are truly strong, with attributes that your customer truly values and that your competition cannot easily copy. Always try to identify more than one category and rank the value of those categories accordingly. Remember, not everyone will be impressed by the same message.

4. Focus Your Marketing through the Lens of Your Differentiators 

You know what sort of messages you need to communicate about your products or services to ensure that you grab the attention of your target market. You know what messages will most effectively differentiate your business from your competition. Now ensure that these are the only messages communicated by your public relations, your advertising, your sales collateral, your sales force, and your support force. Don’t confuse your target customers by sending conflicting messages. Continually position yourself as the number one-the expert in your particular sphere of differentiation.

Be sure to repeat Step 2 on a reasonably regular basis, however. Customer values evolve, and so must your basis for differentiation. Differentiation is an ongoing process. Follow these suggestions and your prospects will know what you do, why what you do is better than what your competitors do, why they should buy from you first, and what’s in it for them if they do. This is your competitive advantage. Dare to be different and you can really start to win in business.

Reprinted with permission from the book 40 STRATEGIES FOR WINNING IN BUSINESS by Bud Haney and Jim Sirbasku. 

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  1. […] Learn more about a great 4-step process to help you develop your truly Unique Selling Proposition in this blog: Strategies for Winning – Dare to be Different […]

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