Are You Different From Your Competition?


Differentiation in our extremely crowded marketplace is a business essential, not only in terms of a company’s succesalts, but also for its continuing survival. So often we are rather arrogant to believe our business is so “one-of-a-kind” that if they want what we offer, then they have to do business with us!  

In today’s world of about seven billion people with millions of businesses, and most of developed society using Social Media, it is highly unlikely that our business is: “in a class by itself, rare, special, unequaled, unique, unparalleled, unprecedented, or unrivaled.”

Because very few of us can truly say we are unrivaled or unequaled, we need to establish a solid Differentiation, separating us in some way from our competition. Generally, disaster restoration companies, independents and franchises alike use similar equipment to dry buildings, or remove smoke odor and soot, or clean up mold.  The days of being one up on your competition by having a special piece of equipment or process is long gone and so is your ability to say you are “unrivaled” in what you do as part of the mitigation or restoration process.

Bluntly, this means you have to continually re-invent your company, ever conscious of what might differentiate your business from the others and then promote that differentiation!  Even though you will be hard-pressed to be unrivaled or unprecedented, and there may be one or two others in your market that offer a very similar product or service, you can still take an aggressive approach to differentiation.

The politician’s often say it over and over and over again until it becomes accepted as fact.  Now I’m not advocating dishonesty or encouraging false statements. What I am suggesting is even when other companies in your market do “similar” things, (such as mitigation only), you can become known as the Mitigation Only specialist by continually promoting that theme.  Advertise it - explain it - market it, and it becomes yours because you have claimed it as yours.  Sure, others can take advantage of your mantra but your aggressive marketing efforts will help position you as the leading business in the differentiation you choose.

  1. As it becomes more challenging to get residential disaster work, and especially water mitigation jobs, separating your business from the competition by going after commercial work has become the focus of many forward thinking companies.  Now is the perfect time to do the same in your market and start promoting your specialty as “commercial focused.”  Most customers assume if you can handle commercial work then you certainly can provide good residential service.

    In a services marketplace where a similar service is provided by numerous service providers, your offerings have to be differentiated against competitor services. Differentiation helps to sustain as well as grow market share and the strategies to differentiate your offerings have to be simple – without requiring significant changes to the existing process.

    The arrival of the Internet changed our business landscape forever. Traditionally, long established “brick-and-mortar” businesses that spent years and millions of dollars building their brands ruled their industry segments – perhaps rightfully so. Now, however, the web has provided a unique platform for businesses to promote and market their services so much so that many services are becoming commoditized and price wars are rampant.  If you’ve wracked your brain and just can’t come up with anything compelling that makes you different, then neither can your prospects.

    Here are twelve examples of words to avoid at all costs in your positioning and differentiating your services. (This is only a sample of what not to use). Don’t use them for differentiation, they are overworked, disregarded and generally not believed: Advanced, Best, Cutting-edge, Dedicated, Fastest, One-of-a-kind, Partner, Solution, State-of-the-art, Unparalleled, Unsurpassed, Value.

    Standing out among your competition can seem like a challenging prospect given the fundamental similarities within any field. Using different techniques to elevate yourself above the competition, without the help of a cost prohibitive advertising budget comes down to knowing yourself, knowing your customer and playing to your strengths.

    Differentiating your business is as easy as offering one distinct advantage over the competition and it may mean the difference between standing out from the crowd and being lost in it.

    One great way to find out what makes you different is to ask your prospects and customers since they are the ones seeing “who you really are!” Asking customers what you and your business can do better, can help you find out what you are or aren’t doing to set yourself apart from the competition. This can also be a great way to make your customers feel involved in your operation and let them know that you are open to their input and willing to improve your service to them.

    Think about your competitors and then ask everyone in your company:

    1. What sets us apart from all of them?
    2. What really makes us totally unique or unusual in a good way?
    3. What do we do, sell, or have that makes us completely different?
    4. Could we give an incredible guarantee that no one else would dare offer?
    5. What convenience for the customer can we create that none of our competitors offers?
    6. Are you a PREP Certified firm?


WHEN THE FACTS ARE NO LONGER ENOUGH The window on analysis is shrinking. People are moving so fast now that they don’t have time to think. They’re scanning, swiping, clicking, liking, tweeting and moving on at full velocity. They’re making decisions based on feelings, not facts. They are often choosing not because of what they think, but because of how something makes them feel. What does this mean for your business? If you want people to act, you must make them feel. If they say ‘I’ll think about it’, you’ve lost them; they’re gone and on to the next thing.
Make your facts real by painting an unforgettable picture with a story.  
Simplicity: You’ve got nine seconds to convince people that you are the one. Don’t overload them with information; concentrate on what really matters to them. 

If you stop bragging about how good you are and start telling them how different you are, and how that will make a customer's experience with you better than anyone else, you’ll get more work - at higher prices because when a client truly believes nobody else can do the job the way you can do it, price is no longer an issue.

Dick Wagner is a Disaster Restoration and Commercial Marketing Consultant.  419-202-6745