Can you prove you’re different?

James Atkins

James Atkins
James Atkins is a director of Vantage, a boutique consultancy dedicated to helping people find strategic and marketing clarity in their business.

One of the most critical issues for businesses is being clear about their sustainable competitive advantage (SCA). Or put another way, being able to answer the question:

“Why would someone buy from you and not the person down the road?”

There are a number of ways to attack this critical challenge but once you’re pretty clear on your SCA, what comes next? You need to prove it!

For customers the most critical proof is obviously their experience at every touchpoint and interaction they have with you.

But what about prospects? How do they get clarity about who you are, and what makes you unique? Saying you provide the ‘best service’ or have the ‘most satisfied customers’ is all very well, but anyone can say that. Does your marketing move beyond puffery?

I think you need to make it tangible, give proof, put numbers and facts around it.

Easier said than done! And from my experience, not a path many take.

Let’s look at a good example: a project management services company that makes some big claims but backs them up. It has grown each year of its 10 year existence, and has made the BRW Fast 100 six years in a row – an achievement unmatched by any other company.

Here are some of the claims they make:

  • “We manage large scale, complex IT projects for ASX Top 100.”
  • “We are an independent Australian company.”
  • “We have strong repeat business and 100% delivery success.”

Pretty standard stuff… but how do they prove it in their marketing messages?

  • “We manage large scale, complex IT projects for ASX Top 100… we currently directly manage over A$500 million in projects , and provide program office management for $1.5 billion.”
  • “We are an independent Australian company… we have no formal or informal relationships or partnerships.”
  • “We have strong repeat business and 100% delivery success…we can provide references for every assignment done since inception in 2002. Our first clients are still trusting us with their most important projects and programs.”

In other words “We’re substantial (so we can meet your needs), are truly independent (so there will be no conflicts of interest in our advice) and our clients are highly satisfied”. A pretty significant competitive advantage I would think in a market where many such businesses are just body shops. Not just words, but facts and numbers they are willing to stake their reputation on.

So is your competitive ‘something’ a well-kept secret?  Can your prospects get a real feel for what makes you different beyond words and spin? If not, find some proof – ask your staff, clients or suppliers – they will help you prove (or disprove) your point of difference. Start measuring and collecting facts and figures that prove who you are, and what makes you unique.

 

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