One of the questions I ask potential customers is what sets them apart in their niche. Almost inevitably the reply is “Our service”. The obvious problem there is that if everyone’s service is what makes them unique, then it isn’t unique.
It is important to have a UNIQUE marketing message that resonates well with others.
And resonating in the right manner is key. Last week I attended a networking event in downtown Denver. One of the hotels had a free giveaway of Whoopee Cushions. Now their web site stresses they are a uniquely fun boutique hotel and they do guarantee a “completely humorous and modern hotel experience” but does a whoopee cushion convey that? Or are you as likely to turn off potential customers as get them excited? I have a difficult time viewing this as a positive experience but I guess I don’t find fake flatulence as funny as some.
Another example of how NOT to have a unique marketing message goes back nearly 10 years ago to the ad campaign that nearly doomed Quiznos. Remember it? Some referred to it as the dancing rats. Relive the horror at
if you don’t recall. Associating your restaurant chain with something that looks like a rat turns out not to be a good idea. Whodda thunk it?
So how do you determine what makes you unique? It takes more than a few minutes or a short blog article to get it but here are a few tips to help you get started:
1. Ask your customers why they work with you / buy from you.
2. Look at the entire spectrum of your clientele – is there a certain theme or niche running through all (or most) of them?
3. If you are a service based business, write down EVERY service you have ever offered and then review the list looking for a common thread. Perhaps you are a CPA that offers services tailored to non-profit organziations? Or to home-service companies such as plumbers, electricians and drywallers?
4. If you sell a product, review your list of SKUs and ask yourself what they have in common. Are they all outdoor products? What group are they most likely to appeal to? Stay at home moms? Fly fishermen? Couples in their 30s who don’t have children?
5. Set out all the printed marketing materials you use and look at them all. Compare them to your web site and any other marketing you do. What emotions bubble to the top?
Take some time and really think through this. Once you have a good idea, let it cook for a few days to make sure it is done. We took a long time coming up with Partner * Engage * Convert and finally just listened to ourselves as we communicated with customers. Guess which three words we kept hearing and in what order?