Doing it “the best” often doesn’t work as well as “doing it differently.” But how do you know if you truly are doing things differently in the eyes of your customers?
It’s a little easier if you run a product-based (rather than service-based business). But first, let’s check out a couple of examples of differentiation in action:
- Service-Based Business: Dental Firm Visited by Brad Sugars of Entrepreneur.com – What do you think of when you visit the dentist? Cold rooms, lifeless white walls, painful procedures, and boring elevator music usually come to mind. However, Brad says his dentist created a country-club like atmosphere at his practice. The entry area has a $10,000 coffee machine, 18 different teas to choose from, and they’re served from a silver tray. An oven bakes sugarless muffins to give a pleasing aroma.“Personal care nurses” greet patients. They have a choice of DVDs to watch on an overhead TV in their own room, which has their name and photo on the door. He doesn’t have any numbers on the results, but it’s a great example of differentiation in action.
- Product-Based Business: First Sign Hair Clip – An article at Forbes overviews this product, which doubles as both a hair clip for women and a defense against violent crime. If they’re attacked, the fast motions of the melee trigger an accelerometer, gyroscope, and microphone. These instruments work together to notify help and turn on the microphone so audio evidence can be gathered.
Techniques for Differentiating
You can think you’re differentiated from other businesses that do the same thing, when the facts say otherwise. For example, being “full-service” in a certain niche is nice, but it’s not enough to differentiate in the eyes of your market.
Here’s what to do to truly differentiate your small business:
- Know Your Niche Well – Going back to the dentist example above, they knew the number one pain point everyone has: fear of going to the dentist and experiencing pain. So, that dentist tailored the whole experience to be as comfortable and relaxing as possible. What’s the number one pain point of customers you serve in your niche? Address that by creating a product or experience that alleviates that pain entirely.
- Create a Guarantee – What’s one negative thing consumers think about plumbers (justifiably or not)? They’re late. So a plumbing company could create an offer guaranteeing they’ll show up in 15-30 minutes, or the service for the customer that day is free. For products, you could guarantee a certain outcome, or offer customers a full refund for any reason
- Partner with Another Company – If differentiating right now requires time and money you don’t have, think about partnering with another business. If you’re a restaurant, you could resell unique desserts from a local bakery. Make sure you have a clear understanding of how the partnership will work, and a strong relationship in place with the business you plan to partner with.
Hope those tips help!
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