Why and how to be different

Differentiation is a marketing strategy used by many successful entrepreneurs. Business experts believe that it is one of the most important and efficient marketing instruments available for business owners due to flexibility, usage easiness and reduced implementation costs. Essentially, differentiation is the answer to the question: “What is special about your business?”

Differentiation represents a medium or long term competitive advantage, generated by customer perception, who considers that the product or service offered is better than that of the competitors and determines him to pay more for the supplementary benefits offered by that product/service.

Why is it important for your business to differentiate? Because it helps you discover a market segment where:

– you will be strong enough to generate profit;
– you will be perceived as being different from your competitors;
– you will be well-adapted to the needs, skills, interests and strong points that the clients want;
– you will satisfy a market need.

A business cannot compete at the same level or in the same manner with other business in its field. For this reason, there are several methods and tactics for differentiation. A marketing plan which contains differentiation strategies is very useful and creates an advantage that the clients perceive as being more valuable than what the competition offers. In order for a company to be truly different, it needs to be perceived like this by its clients. They need to feel that the products and services respond better to their needs.

In the list of differentiation methods for your company, we can include: quality, services associated to products, price, perceived value, durability, comfort, warranty, financing, range of offered products and services, accessibility.

For implementing a successful differentiation strategy, you should:
– know and understand the clients’ needs;
– choose a mix of methods of differentiation which, in the eyes of your clients, truly differentiate you;
– talk about a differentiation in terms of client benefits;
– tell everybody what makes you special;
– adapt your business to the changing needs of your clients.

Howard Schultz said: “Clients must recognize the fact that you represent something important for them.”

This is what you need in order to build a client base quickly:

– offers which express customer value;
– relevant and direct benefits;
– prices according to benefits for the client;
– simple, easy to understand language;
– convincing and memorable ideas.

Interesting offers for the client are the value that the business offers to a group of targeted clients, due to a better understanding of their needs, competition and a focus on the needs, problems and wishes of these people.

A valuable offer is conceived inside the company, subsequent to a methodical analysis, which comprises 6 stages:

1. Who is the targeted public? – Who is it comprised of? Which are the needs, desires, problems and aspirations of this public?

2. What type of solution is it looking for? – A simple solution or a more convenient solution?

3. Why should they choose the company’s offer? – Which are the differentiation elements, how is the company better than the others, which are the unique benefits that it offers?

4. How will this difference be implemented? – Which are the products, services or processes which ensure the uniqueness and viability of these benefits?

5. What price will you charge for it?

6. What aren’t we offering to the clients and they can get from somewhere else?

Anca Chilianescu