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Growing Your Company

The Power Of Uniqueness. Five Steps to Differentiate Your Company
By Denise Hart

"Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." But it won't help you when it comes to marketing. Is your message interchangeable with your competition? Could they use what you say without any changes and find that it works for them? If so, your prospects, clients and employees won't be able to tell you apart either.

If your ultimate goal is to drive revenue, your marketing message needs to differentiate your company so it stands out from the competition. You need to let your audience know there's no one else like you. What are the unique perspectives, capabilities or combination of qualities you bring to the table that no one else can claim?

To craft a great marketing platform, you need to know where to start. Uncover your company's unique marketing voice with these techniques we developed at O2 Lab and use in our own process.

  1. 10,000 Foot View
    Arrange for some face time with the C-suite. Your top executives set the direction for your company and understand the vision for its future. You have to know where you want to go to create a roadmap to get there. Getting the top brass involved from the get-go means they'll be invested in a successful outcome for the marketing you develop.
  2. On The Front Lines
    Get together with your sales team. They're in the trenches with their ear to the ground and can provide valuable insight about clients and prospects, pain points and what they want and need. Using this information will improve your approach and make the sales team more apt to use the tools you build.
  3. Face To Face
    Create opportunities to interface directly with your customers and prospects. Who better to share what motivates them and what they want. Observe how they use your offerings. Learn how to ask questions that elicit stories and personal experience instead of "yes" or "no". The information you gain will be worth its weight in gold.
  4. Mapping The Terrain
    To set yourself apart you have to know what you're up against. Gather ad campaigns, social media activity, websites and other communications from your competition. You'll see how they express their brands, where the competitive landscape overlaps and any unique value competitors are claiming. There's no substitute for this research to determine how your company can break away from the pack.
  5. Stake Your Claim
    Once you have all this information, you'll begin to see patterns and how things connect. Compare what your customers value with what you learned from the C-suite and sales team as well as your competitive analysis. Think about the big picture, what your company brings to the table that will differentiate you. Then stake your claim.

With the insights you gain you'll have the building blocks to develop a clear, compelling message that sets you apart. You'll be able to advance your leadership's vision, creating materials that work for the sales team, resonate with your audience and break through the clutter of the competition. And, once you've got that message, be sure to say it loud, say it proud and say it often. Before you know it, you'll be the company others want to emulate.

This article has been written by Denise Hart and Robert McVearry Co-Founders of O2 Lab, a company in Washington, DC specializing in Marketing Solutions for Technology Firms.