Differentiation – Exactly What Is It?

4 minute read

Today, there are over 7 billion people in the world. It’s estimated there are 50 million businesses (many are small with less than 5 people). We have an elaborate Social Media system with almost a third of the world population on Facebook! So, it is highly unlikely that your business is: “in a class by itself, rare, special, unequaled, unique, unparalleled, unprecedented, or unrivaled.”

Differentiation, by the standards used even 15 years ago, it so dramatically new and different. Your business is NOT a one-of-a-kind, where your services are so unique that no one is doing a similar thing! Here’s the big fact: there are really only two key ingredients that enable you to put your business in a class by itself. First, your customer service must be unparalleled – so unique, special, Different, that no one is even close to competing with you in that arena. Second, your staff, (and especially your marketers) must be unforgettable in a superb and positive way with prospects and clients.

In general, disaster restoration companies, independents and franchises alike use similar equipment to dry buildings, or remove smoke odor and soot, or clean up mold.  You simply do not have – in the offering of products and services – something others don’t have. The exception as stated above is your high-touch customer service and your incredible staff.


Here is the blunt truth; it means you must 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, to survive long-term, you will need to constantly identify and refine your differentiation. Let me say it again… Differentiation for your company is critical to your long-term success.

Consider this: 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 try to copy your mantra but your aggressive marketing efforts (shouting it from the rooftops) will help position you as the leading business in the differentiation you choose.

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 better differentiation you have, the larger market share you own. Another great way to establish serious credibility and be perceived as the king in your field is for your website to include a Blog. Your blog section needs a fresh, new, non-plagiarized  article nearly every week, and certainly twice a month!


Standing out among your competition can seem like a massive challenge given the fundamental similarities within your industry. 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.

Standing out from the competitors means finding out what makes you different, so ask your prospects and customers since they are the ones seeing “who you really are!” Asking them 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? (hint: don’t say “we care more.”)
  2. What really makes us totally unique or unusual in a good way?
  3. What do we do, provide, or have that makes us completely different?
  4. Could we give an incredible guarantee that no one else would dare offer?
  5. What package of little things could we bundled and give it a special name?
  6. What convenience can we create that none of our competitors offer?

When 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 genuinely believes nobody else can do the job the way you can do it, price is no longer an issue.

My final thought… Differentiation in our extremely crowded marketplace is a business essential, not only in terms of a company’s success, but also for its continuing survival. So often we are incredibly arrogant and believe our business is so “one-of-a-kind” that if they want what we offer, then they have to do business with us!   Well, it isn’t – unless you design DIFFERENTIATION into your operation.

By Dick Wagner, Co-Founder The CREST Network, LLC                         

 Nationally recognized coach, consultant, trainer, and speaker

Creator of the renowned PREP™ pre-disaster program

Owner of AskDickWagner.com BLOG



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