Archive for July 2011

On his blog “Stories that Sell” Jim O’Conner asked the question ‘How to sell when you have no USP?” I commented on Jim’s posting at the time, but thought the ideas below might help you think about how to develop differentiation (your USP) within your business. So here are seven ways to build and develop some differentiation:

1. Product Differentiation
How is what you are offering (product or service) different from or better than your competitors’? If you don’t have (or can’t invent) some valued and unique components, you are in danger of being perceived as just another commodity.

2. Price Differentiation
In my opinion, this is the worst approach in trying to build a viable long-term business. But, if your business is more ‘one-shot’ than ‘repeat’ and you get the volume required, it can work.

3. Relationship Differentiation
If there is a solid relationship between you and your clients based on trust, you have an inside track of tremendous value. This environment will make you the envy of your competitors, and your client may not even give your competitor a chance if the relationship is strong enough.

4. Process Differentiation
Many companies don’t attach enough significance to the processes that dictate the image of their business model. Get your best minds together and brainstorm better, more customer-friendly ways to do business. Remember every complaint or concern raised by a customer is an opportunity to review how things might be done better.

5. Technological Differentiation
This age of technology affords many opportunities to advance our ways of communicating. These new modes of communication encompass a wide variety of options, such as podcasts to update customers or to a blog (like this one) that provides a “voice” for your business and a way to “listen” to your customers. Cardinal rule: Make it easy for the customer to communicate with you – wherever they are.

6. Experiential Differentiation
Many people believe that we are in an “experience economy.” Can we provide customers with knock-your-socks-off service and experiences that are so memorable that they start telling their friends and colleagues? Customer service miracles are anything you can do to make a customer say “Wow!” Ask yourself, “How can I make doing business with me an irresistible experience?”

7. Advocate Differentiation
This level of differentiation builds on all of the above. It is the most powerful form of differentiation. This is where you develop customers into advocates for what you do. They tell their friends about you, they broadcast their experiences of dealing with you on social networks they even defend you if someone is critical. They are unpaid sales people who promote you and your products to their networks because the love what you do and how you do it.

So Jim, what do you think?