June 2, 2023


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Competitive advantage: how to differentiate your brand

A lot of small businesses don’t exist. Take their name and logo off their website or other communication materials, and you’ll never know who they really are. They might as well be any other box in their sector.

The reason for their existence is to survive and pay the bills of their creator, who often barely manages to get by – and sometimes not even. Customers, meanwhile, (…) order only because they were passing by. It concerns of many shops in retail : the only sales made result from the random passage of potential customers. No one voluntarily searches for these stores. No one really dreams of what they offer and, if they disappeared, no one would regret them. Such is their harsh reality.

These businesses are just other businesses of the “Me too, I exist” type. How did they set their prices? their products ? their marketing? Generally, the answer is simple: they have observed what the nearest competitor was doing, and settled on this model sometimes modifying it slightly. (…)

After torturing themselves to death for a while, earning just enough to survive, but not enough to thrive, many of these companies eventually decide to “try marketing”. They then sell the image of their box “Me too, I exist” by means of a slogan of the same ilk: “Me too, I am boring. As expected, this does not work. The few results from the few extra sales caused by these ads often do not even cover the marketing costs. (…)

If you haven’t first cleared in your mind what your business is for and why people should go to you rather than the neighbor, the fight is pretty much a losing one. .

Escape the price comparison

You must, before starting, define your Unique Selling Proposition (USP), in other words the main commercial promise you make to your customers, your main selling point. (…) Let’s take the example of water, the most common consumer good on earth. When you buy it in a bottle, whether in a store or from a vending machine, you are blithely paying for it two thousand times the price of tap water.

In store or at home, only the circumstances, the packaging, the delivery and the environment change; the product remains the same. The purpose of this customer USP is to answer the following question: why should I shop with you, and not with your nearby competitor? (…)

The common mistake of many business leaders is to think that their USP can be summed up in these few words: “quality” and “optimal service”. This assertion is doubly false:

1. Quality and optimal service are customer expectations; they are part of the good ethical practices of any profession and are not exceptional.

2. Your customers will only be able to test your quality and service after buying something from you. A good USP must therefore be designed to attract prospects with a solid promiseeven before they have made any purchase decision.

You’ll know you’re selling yourself as a necessities when prospects address the price point directly.

Positioning themselves as a commodity and only talking to potential customers about price puts the small entrepreneur in a terrible and hopeless situation. Because this race for the lowest price can only end in tears.

To solve this problem, this USP must be interesting, that it positions you differently in the marketso that prospects are not tempted to put you on the same level as your competitors.

If the comparison between them and you is too easy, they will only judge by the prices, and you will not resist. You will always find a competitor willing to be cheaper.

Put yourself in your prospect’s shoes

Few companies or products are truly unique – if any. The question therefore arises: “If my company is not unique, how do I write my USP? What can I really promise? »

I often ask my clients two more when I advise them on this point. Their answers are the first step towards the commercial and financial success of their company.

The two questions you need to ask yourself and answer are:

1. Why should these individuals buy this product or service?

2. Why should they buy it from me? You need to be able to answer these questions in a clear, concise, and quantifiable way, not with nonsense like “We’re the best” or “We’re top notch.”

What is theadvantage, unique, that you present ? This uniqueness is not necessarily found in the product itself, since in reality and in all honesty, as we have seen, very few products are truly unique. He may be limited to the way they are presented, packaged, delivered, or even the assistance that accompanies them, or the sale herself.

You need to position yourself in such a way that even if your competitor’s store was located directly across from yours, customers would cross the street to do business with you, not them.

Get your positioning right, and customers might even line up all night to enter your store, like they do to buy Apple hardware. (…)

So put yourself in your prospect’s shoes, slip into his thoughts to find out what he’s really looking for. Once this is understood, all you have to do is write your USP, the one that will allow him to achieve the desired result.

Allan Dib, author of ‘Your marketing plan in 1 page’.
– Photo DR

The author:

Allan Dib is an Australian entrepreneur, lecturer, marketing consultant specializing in new technologies… This text is an extract from his book “Your marketing plan in 1 page: Win new customers by organizing your marketing plan on a single page”, published by Editions Pearson, 264 pages, 24.90 euros.