Ever wondered how to make customers choose you over your competitors?
Sure, you can charge bargain basement prices or offer jaw-dropping discounts. But just getting customers in the door at any cost is hardly a worthwhile goal. What you really want is long-term, profitable growth.
So how do you achieve it?
You’ll need to differentiate your business in the minds of your customers.
Here are three key steps to differentiate (and grow) a profitable business:
Understand the needs of your customers
To effectively differentiate your business, you’ll first need to understand what drives your target customers to buy – in other words, their underlying needs.
There’s no point in trying to differentiate around needs that your customers don’t actually have. Advertising copy that doesn’t hit on your customers’ core, driving needs simply won’t work. If your target market is hard on cash and after a low-cost product, yet you focus on your environmentally friendly qualities, you’re way off the mark.
So, step one is to ask yourself:
What are the needs of my target market customers? And which of those needs are most critical to their purchase decision?
Once you know what drives your customers to buy, you’ll need to decide which key customer needs you want to differentiate around.
The reality is that customers want their needs met – so if you can meet one or more of those needs better than others, you’ll effectively differentiate your business.
But don’t make the mistake that many businesses make. All customers expect good value, fair prices and good customer service. That’s not better. That’s your threshold requirement to be in the game and not go out of business.
The real question is: What’s your unique value to your market? Is it your lower price? Better selection? Higher quality? Greater convenience? Speedier delivery? Better warranty? Exclusive source? More socially conscious? More fun? The hippest?
So, step two is to ask yourself:
Out of the key needs of my target market, which (one or two) needs can I meet better than my competitors?
Legitimise your claims
There’s one more step. To make your differentiation claims compelling, you’ll need to legitimise. Don’t just say you’re faster, longer-lasting, higher quality – prove it with objective evidence: research studies, case studies, testimonials or your unique qualifications or experience.
And where you don’t have any evidence (and perhaps even if you do), consider linking your offer to a guarantee that puts your money where your mouth is – and therefore builds legitimacy.
Here are some examples:
- Fresh, hot pizza, delivered in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.
- No-hassle, no questions asked, money-back guarantee forever.
- On-time printing or you don’t pay. Used by the following top brands…
What tangible evidence can I provide to justify my differentiation claims?
When you answer these three questions for your business, you’ll build a compelling reason for customers to choose you over others. And while it won’t mean that you can suddenly charge unrealistic prices, the more genuine, unique value you provide, the more customers will be willing to pay you for that extra value.
I hope this advice helps you to differentiate and grow a profitable business.
About the author
Joel Gerschman is a leading business coach, bestselling author and educator in the field of business growth, management and leadership. Check out his blog at mindfulentrepreneur.co for more strategies and resources to help you rapidly grow your business while staying sane, focused and fulfilled.