“Why should I hire you over the competition? It's THE question that everyone is trying to answer.
Below we've broken it down in to clear, tactical ways you can set yourself apart, with some fun real world examples.
HOW TO DIFFERENTIATE
FROM THE COMPETITION
LIKE THE BADASS THAT YOU ARE
PART I: BE MEMORABLE: SELL VENTI FRAPPACCINOS™, NOT COFFEE.
Badass brands utilizes new language, language not often used in their industry, as a means of differentiation. It allows them to take something that already exists, put their own spin and personality on it (ahem, brand) and then own it like it's new (because in many ways, it is!)
Starbucks is a great example as it is the only place you can order a Venti Frappuccino and, for a company whose product is 90% water, charge quite a premium on those caffeinated cocktails. Their unique naming system is one of many ways they set themselves apart from their competitors.
Indeed I know many loyal customers that use that terminology when ordering in a non-Starbucks coffeehouse (whoops).
CREATE A NEW CATEGORY
Nespresso created a new category by repackaging an old idea in a new way. Instant espresso had a low-end connotation, so they made up a new word and developed a high-end, high quality image associated with a quality, European espresso. While there are lots of pod coffee machines out there, Nespresso is in a category all on its own.
(To further demonstrate the power of branding did you know that Nestlé owns the company? Not a brand you would associate with European quality espresso, which is probably why they don't advertise that!)
Using different words than your competitors is a great opportunity to set yourself apart. Often, in an attempt to be loved by everyone, companies often use generic words like “quality leadership, delighting customers, great customer service” to express what makes them great to work with.
As a small business owner, what one thing do you do better than everyone else? Large or small, what pieces of your process, your personality or your products are different enough that there is opportunity to highlight, package, and own them as yours? How can you explain it using sepcific, unique words? (Unique not being one of them!)
Instead of saying we are faster and cheaper, Geiko say "15 minutes will save you 15% or more on car insurance," a great example of using similar language, but in a differentiated way to be memorable.
You can use new words, you can use the same words in a new way, or you can use made-up words to set yourself apart from your competitors. But when you use language that everyone else is using, no matter how much better you are it will be impossible for the world to see it.
Read the copy on your competitors’ websites. Is your copy interchangeable with theirs? If it wouldn't feel out of place on your competitors' website then you aren't pushing yourself far enough to show your true colors. Try explaining and defining the generic words that you use, so instead of saying that you are 'innovative,' explain what you mean by the word "innovative."
BE BOLD: JUST BECAUSE IT'S TRUE DOESN'T MEAN IT WORKS
Most companies understand that to be successful, a brand needs to stand for something. And we understand that you really do mean it when you say that your company stands for “integrity,” “customer service,” “innovative solutions,” etc… But unfortunately, you’re not the only “honest,” “hardworking” business out there. Those declarations lose meaning when your competitors, especially more established ones, also say they are honest and hardworking. When you all say the same thing, the big guys will always win.
THE BOLD VALUES TEST
So how do you find something to stand for that is bold, different, badass? There’s a simple way to find out how you are different, and if not, how you can be.
Ask yourself "what do you stand against?"
What pisses you off about your industry? If you stand for something bold, you also stand against something real. For example, no company offers "Bad Customer Service," so offering "Good Customer Service" is not very bold, exciting, or even believable.
SOME BADASS EXAMPLES
Mini Cooper is against "Normal", because in their words, “Normal can never be amazing”. In-N-Out Burger uses local produce and ingredients so they are against rapid growth and franchising. Chick-Fil-A's owner is a devout southern baptist whose beliefs have strongly influenced the company culture in that they are not open on Sundays, and recently even made public statements in opposition to same-sex marriage. And most people are aware of Ben & Jerry's liberal activism: for example their release of the flavor Hubby Hubby in support of Gay Marriage.
What offends one person inspires and excites another in every case.
HIGHER PROFIT OR HIGHER GROWTH?
While we all might not agree with what these examples stand against, rest assure these brands are all loved by their loyal customers in a way that Toyota, Burger King, & Breyer’s are not.
And they can charge a premium price because of it, which is part of Worstofall Design's definition of a badass brand.
On the other hand, though Toyota et. al. are huge, successful companies, they are forced to compete on price and market share.
A brand that actually stands for something different develops devout followers that will pay more for their product, meaning these brands do not have to compete on price. This equates to higher profit margins, which means as the business grows, the profits grow even more than their price-competitive counterparts.
Those are the kind of badass businesses we admire!
Investing in and building on a bold brand message now will garner a loyal following that will shout your brand from the rooftops as you grow! This translates into greater and greater profits in the future. So think about what you stand against, and use that to help find that badass value you stand for. Without a contrary opinion to your stand, you can be pretty sure that big bold statement you’ve been making probably isn’t exciting enough to get your customers moving.
You've heard it before: you've got to narrow your target market to be successful. But after encountering business owners time and again who will sell to anyone who will buy, it seems clear many people aren't buying it. Here are 3 short explanations about why narrowing your focus will increase sales, and why being for everyone can be the number one reason your business isn't growing.
WHEN "EVERYONE" IS YOUR TARGET MARKET, YOU ATTRACT NO ONE
If your target market is “anyone with the money to pay” you are doing yourself a disservice. When you hire someone to redecorate your new three bedroom condo, would you prefer to work with someone who “works with all budgets, from small studios to large condos to retail stores and office space” or would you prefer to work with someone who specializes in decorating high-end Manhattan real estate? You might even be willing to pay a premium to work with a specialist. (And even if you're not there are plenty of people who are. Plus when people pay you a premium you don't need nearly as many of them to make the same, or more money!)
STRENGTHEN YOUR BRAND EXPONENTIALLY OVER TIME
Specialize now, and your reputation will grow around you. As you become known for your specialty while your business simultaneously grows, your competitive advantage will only be strengthened as you win client after client, strengthening your reputation and increasing the number of happy clients talking about you in that niche. Your speciality continuously feeds your business more strength and power, a power boost your generalist competitors will never feel.
Though you might feel, especially at first, like you’re leaving money on the table when you turn down jobs that you could certainly execute, the value you will be creating in your business will pay you back in spades.
IT'S NOT AS LIMITING AS YOU THINK
Just because you are for a specific group, don’t think you are limited to that group. We’ve found that declaring a niche doesn’t discourage people from asking you if you would do work for clients outside of that niche. Why? Because they like what you have to sell, and they see you more as an expert over your generalist competitors. Nasty Gal is a great example of a online fashion company that plays to a very specific kind of customer, but many of their customers don’t fall into that category. Their brand is rocker and rebellious targeting a certain kind of female. But that just means they are the go-to for super edgy, rebel style, and even the teachers pet will buy from them when looking for something in that category. They have become the go-to for their style, and that’s powerful across all target markets.
What kind of clients do you say “no” to? Do you target clients that other competitors in your space don’t? Do you say no to clients your comeptitors do work with?
Unless you’re Apple, Coke, or Walmart, you don’t have the resources to just beeverywhere, which is how these huge successful companies stay successful.
The rest of us are fighting for a piece of the pie against many other smaller brands. Building a Badass Brand is essential to being successful in the long run because it guarantees you will be known, liked, loved by customers, which will keep them coming back for more, and bringing their friends to boot.
HOW DO I MAKE MY BRAND BADASS?
Badass brands are memorable. They stand for something specific or, even better, stand against something that people might even like. They might be very narrow in their target audience, be it the age group, gender, location, size of company, or better yet, a mix of a few. They are willing to sacrifice in the name of their brand. They are authentic. They are valuable. And because they are so well defined, they have little or no competition.
You can't and shouldn't use all the techniques in this series for your business. Instead, see which ones are most applicable, and then commit! Committing is the hardest part for most because it seems to require sacrifice, but it's truly the strongest way to set your business apart and build a company with unlimited potential.