Being better is not enough. You must also be different… preferably radically different. Start by determining what’s unique about the expertise you have to offer. Differentiation is essential, even if it seems like every product in your category is offering the same features and benefits. Some marketers say there are no original ideas anymore. This simply is not true. It’s just that originality is hard and requires a healthy dose of insight and ingenuity. Look at companies like Uber that disrupted entire industries and you can see how impactful wholesale differentiation can be.
Too many brands fall into the seductive trap of imitation, or merely promoting incremental differentiation. They see what made another brand successful and think, “Hey, I’ll try that, too. And just do it a little bit better.” It is a form of risk mitigation that almost always winds up backfiring. This instinct is understandable, however, given its prevalence in nature.
Take the two snakes above for example. The one on the left is the Texas Coral Snake, a deadly snake with toxic venom. The one on the right is the Mexican Milk Snake, an impotent imposter that is borrowing the image of the other snake in order to appear imposing.
In nature, this phenomenon is known as Batesian Mimicry and it’s a defense mechanism against predation. In business — which relies more on offensive strategies to increase sales and grow market share — this form of imitation achieves the same result seen in nature: it causes the imposter company to be left alone.
While there are many commodity products, there are no commodity brands in construction and building products. Each one has its own personality (whether you are fully aware or not) and composite skill set that comprises its expertise. Work relentlessly to find the uniqueness in your offering, and show how that benefits customers beyond what the competition can provide.
Don’t borrow someone else’s stripes. Create an entirely new pattern of success.
Find Your Uniqueness
Expertise is one of those marketing terms that is so overused it’s become seemingly meaningless. Which is a shame because expertise is one of the main reasons why a customer will pay for a product or service in the first place.
These days “expertise” has become a blanket term, typically demonstrated by years of operation. Rolex: A Leader in Watches Since 1905. As if age alone automatically equals competence? We’ve all met old people, and…
Your company’s expertise is more importantly an essential selling point. But talking in terms of years or basic credentials is likely to land on glazed eyes. Demonstrate instead, how your unique area of expertise will improve your customers lives in ways the competition’s won’t.
- Will your service save people time? Don’t just calculate the minutes or hours… show how customers can invest that extra time with their children.
- Will your roof product withstand devastating weather? Don’t show the tiles being windblown… show the family sleeping comfortably in their own beds instead of a shelter.
Oftentimes building product brands have a difficult time determining how best to articulate their expertise to prospective customers. This typically comes from being too close to the production. What seems obvious to the manufacturer is actually entirely interesting to the specifier. As an expert at helping clients identify and articulate the most salient aspects of their expertise to customers, we wanted to offer some advice on how to present your expertise in a way that will create the competitive separation you need to excel.
Always Put Your Customer First
You’re in business because you have identified a desire not currently being met, or have invented something so revolutionary that it created a demand that did not already exist. Never lose sight of that basic customer need, and position every aspect of your business around fulfilling that… better than anyone else.
Let’s go back to the time-saving example for reference sake. Your adhesive or concrete sets quicker, allowing construction to proceed faster and finish earlier. Demonstrate the benefit of this expertise through every aspect of the customer experience:
- Streamline your call center so that customers get to the right person, and have their inquiries satisfied, as fast as possible. Live web chat? Dual language, 24/7? Check.
- Determine the fastest fulfillment, and show customers how much time it saves. Heck, put racing stripes on your trucks.
- Don’t just make the product dry faster, make the bag quicker and easier to open and pour.
- Perform demonstrations at trade show from recognized industry experts and have people compete for time. User experience wins.
- And then, as mentioned before, show how the time-savings leads to more time doing what matters most. Bass fishing, for example.
Show and Tell
Once you’ve identified the area of expertise that clearly differentiates your company from the competition — and determined the core benefit it provides to your customers — it’s time to leverage this expertise to its fullest potential.
First, actions are always better than words. As shown through the time-saving examples above, utilize your expertise in ways that make a tangible, real-world impact on your customers’ lives. Then promote these practical benefits with a marketing campaign that shows people what they’re missing by not using your products or services, or reinforces their wise decision to do so.
Finding a marketing partner that can both help you identify the most compelling area of expertise, and package it to customers in a motivational way, is a key component in creating a successful campaign. Contact us at any time to put our expertise to work for you.