The end of one year and the beginning of the next is often a time for reflection and setting personal goals. As a business owner, manager or staff, it’s a good time to set some business goals as well.
I’ve been reading quite a few books lately and want to share an excellent one.
Create Distinction, by Scott McKain
Scott McKain is a marketing consultant, best-selling author and keynote speaker who advises companies on standing out in an overcrowded marketplace. This book on marketing explains his approach to helping small businesses rise above the crowd and get noticed.
How do you stand out from the crowd?
With the widespread use of internet search by consumers, and the ease with which most services and products can be cloned, what can a small business do to achieve customer awareness and even fandom?
McCain argues that high-quality products and great customer service are the minimum requirement today. Once you have achieved those, you are simply at parity with your competition. Yes, you must have a great product and stellar customer service. Quality and service are not differentiators, they are the minimum expected. You need great quality and service just to survive. But you need more.
He uses the examples of Starbucks and Apple. Starbucks sells coffee, but everyone knows Starbucks. Apple sells computers, but everyone knows Apple. What have they done to become “a category of one” in their industries?
Typical differentiators are not enough
McKain says there are four ideas behind creating distinction:
- Customer experience
Distinction is rare because copying is easier. Your competition adds a new feature, longer hours, a free add-on, and you respond by doing the same. Most companies are competing against competitors instead of for the customer, “not losing to the competition” rather than delivering what customers crave.
When people are overwhelmed with boring similarity, they begin to perceive that what is different is better. When faced with a bewildering array of similar products and services to choose from, they notice that one is different, and assume it is superior. By being different, you distinguish yourself from everyone else and win the customer’s attention. Then you can deliver your superior quality product and excellent customer service and remain distinctive.
A couple of things I took away from the book:
You need to tell a story about your service. People want to know you first, not buy from you. The trust comes first, the sale after. Use clarity (focus) and creativity to make your story unique, communicate that to your audience and listen to their response, and then deliver that amazing, memorable customer experience.
Small business marketing is different. Don’t imitate the big Fortune 500 companies. What works for them is irrelevant to you. They may be able to blanket the market with a message that says nothing more than, “Hey, we’re Pepsi.” But small businesses do not have the resources to “farm the world.” With a small budget, targeting a niche becomes very important.
In Create Distinction, McKain provides a method to spur you on in making your small business stand out to prospects as one of the best.