I recently wrote a blog post for a client whose business is to provide financing in the remodeling industry, clients who provide home improvement services to their customers. The topic of the post is discussing how remodeling companies who differentiate themselves from their competitors have an advantage when they are marketing their business. I thought this was a great topic for marketers to think about, in general, and all companies should be putting forth a great effort in defining their brands. This raises the question – have you taken the time to execute a full brand development? A real brand development where you ideally, bring in an outside resource to implement a branding session and you examine every aspect of your brand, defining its goals, personality, the emotions you want people to experience when thinking about your brand, and a clear communication of a positioning statement.
By definition, brand development is the process of improving a brand or improving customers’ knowledge and opinions of a brand. If your company hasn’t made a distinctive effort to define its brand, it will be difficult to communicate why a prospective customer should choose you to engage with in business.
Are you creating a memorable impression of your business to your customers and prospective customers? If you believe you are, how are you doing it? Often businesses do not communicate the right message when marketing themselves. As a result, they are not making a memorable impression although they may believe they are.
Frequently businesses that are not large billion-dollar companies believe they do not have to work hard to differentiate their brand image, values, mission and messaging from other companies. When your company is not comparable in revenue and size to the likes of Disney, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and other big brands we know, business owners incorrectly think the same rules of marketing are not applicable to them or necessary. It’s the belief “we are just a small company…we are not like Apple” that makes small and medium-sized companies believe their message of differentiation to the public is not as important as those of the big brands. As a result, the message too often becomes solely about pricing, presuming that the lowest price is the most important factor in the customer decision-making process. Too many businesses believe the “the best price” makes them memorable. Products and/or services are another factor – “we only use the best products” or “we provide the best service”. However, this raises questions that many customers ask when they are looking to engage with any company in just about any industry.
Doesn’t every company instinctively try to provide the best value/price to their customers?
Doesn’t every company use the best quality products or provide the best service when presenting their company?
The answer to both questions is – yes, of course they do. Any reputable company will purposely try to avoid gouging customers when quoting prices for their products or service. The same goes for the products or services included in a quote. I remember when doing research for the perfect DSLR camera to purchase for my husband, I reached out to a friend who was a great photography hobbyist. He gave me information and links to do some research. But I distinctively remember him telling me about the 2-leading prosumer global brands I would likely be choosing from, Canon and Nikon. He said both are quality brands and my husband would not be unhappy with either one. He pointed out that some people are “Canon guys” and others are “Nikon guys” and both groups are extremely loyal to the brand they choose. But it really does not speak to why one company is better than another. I ultimately chose the Canon, with 3 factors being the tipping point.
- The Canon was lighter than the equivalent Nikon.
- The Canon had the higher megapixels.
- The Canon was known to have the better video capabilities, according to every professional review I read.
Imagine if the marketing was specific in pointing out these very important differentiators. It would have taken me 5 minutes to make my decision and save lots of printed paper, as I laid all my print-outs on the floor, side-by-side to help me make my decision.
The fact is – For your company stand out from a vast field of competitors, seizing on a differentiating factor in order to be memorable is your best marketing. Pricing is the least memorable aspect about any business, unless there is a problem with the product or service, and then it will become the most memorable factor in a negative way. When pricing is number one, there is an added pressure to not become a company known as “You get what you paid for”. From the customer’s perspective the final result of happiness with the purchased product or the services paid for, is the lasting memory and how you uniquely provided what others could not.
So how can companies differentiate themselves from their closest competitors and other reputable companies, taking away the focus from lowest pricing and other common, non-memorable factors? Your messaging should focus around:
- Company culture – Who do you hire? What are your values? Are there social causes near and dear to your heart?
- Personality – Is your company diverse in generations, heritage, gender, and work processes?
- Unique niche – Does your company do something that no other company does? It may not be something glamorous, but it could give you a competitive edge.
- Service – What do you do that goes above and beyond the expected levels of service?
- Ability to solve problems – Are you an expert in a particular area where others are not?
- Customer service – Is this one of the most important priorities in your company?
- Provide a unique value – Are there additional skills that you can include in your business offering that others cannot?
- Your company’s qualities – Are you better qualified than others in a particular area?
Building your brand by communicating your best qualities, those that differentiate your company from your many competitors, is the best marketing you can implement. Remember, you want to be memorable. You want to provide a good value, not simply the lowest price. You want to provide worth that customers and prospects are willing to pay for, even if the pricing is higher than another company’s proposal. Your goal should never be that you want to be known as “the cheapest game in town”. But this takes work on your part. You must sit down and develop your brand, messaging and values and implement them company-wide.
Then the next step is, communicate your message of uniqueness and differentiation. Customers are willing to pay for value, even if it is a higher price. So often price is not the number one factor in the decision-making process. But it’s up to you to make them feel comfortable to put other factors ahead of pricing in their process to choose you as the company they engage with in business.
Please contact Anna Brice at Pinnacle Peak Marketing, Scottsdale AZ about Marketing for Small/Medium Business.