Differentiating yourself from the competition is vital in a marketplace where there are many choices. What does it take to pull you out ahead of the pack?
1. Analyze your clients’ needs. Determine what it takes to meet those needs. Write down them down, and articulate them to yourself and to your staff. Post constant reminders of their importance. Build your business around the fulfillment of client needs.
2. Model your Core Attributes. Even if you aren’t the owner – or even the manager – of a business, you need “personal” attributes which set you apart from others. Is it your follow through? Your timely and accurate communication? Your attention to detail? The solutions you provide for clients? These become your signature “brand” – qualities that differentiate you from everyone else.
3. Use “stories” to reinforce your brand. In the travel agency business, we’ve worked on New Year’s Day to get humanitarian workers overseas for tsunami relief efforts. Your stories may not be as dramatic, but every business delivers some type of extraordinary service that becomes folklore in the company. Did you rescue a client at the ninth hour? Did you solve a particularly difficult problem? Render incredibly wonderful service? Build your unique brand by telling these stories to your clients and prospects! Providing employee names and dates gives your stories even more credibility.
4. Be a “partner” not a “peddler.” Do your clients perceive you are consistently looking out for their best interests? Or do they think you are just eager “to sell them something?” Research their businesses and take a genuine interest in your clients. Come up with ways to assist them with their company goals and mission. Without becoming intrusive, take a personal interest in their lives. If a business contact has a favorite hobby, send him news articles he may find interesting. One of our clients loves railroads. When I saw an article about the Baltimore railroad museum, I sent him the clipping. He was impressed!
5. Develop your own “brand.” “Coca Cola” “Ritz Carlton” “Nordstrom” – What do you think of when you see those names? Immediate recognition. Predictable quality. Great reputation. What do your clients think of when they hear your company name – or more particularly, YOUR name? Do they think…
- Problem solver
- Expert ”Source”
– or whatever attributes for which you and your company should be known.
What can harm your brand?
- Over-promising and under-delivering
- Breaking a promise
- Lack of follow through
- Failure to acknowledge and apologize for a lapse
If you have significant lapses in service or delivery, although not irreversible, these can damage your company or personal brand. So be vigilant!
Get ready to Build Your Brand! How does your ideal client feel about you? This is the starting point to:
- Determine your most important core attributes
- “Live” your core attributes: Model for your clients, your staff, yourself!
- Articulate those attributes through compelling stories
Start Building Your Own Brand – and increase your revenue!