If your goal is to establish brand loyalty in your customers (and why wouldn’t it be?) then you need to establish a point of difference (POD). All too often I see the same, confused look on a client’s face when I ask what should otherwise be a simple question; “What is your business’s point of difference?”. In other words, what makes you ‘special’?
This one question should underpin every business decision you make going forward.
Effectively, you shouldn’t be consulting with your graphic designer without a clear marketing plan. Having your business goals on paper is critical to ensuring branded assets are constructed with clear intention. Building your marketing plan will allow you to reflect on what makes your business different to your competitors; allowing you to gain better insight into who your target audience is. It’s this knowledge that allows you to successfully target the right audience, with the right message, via the right medium.
Don’t just know – live, breathe and embody your brand! After all, your brand should be a reflection of your values, your service and your commitment.
It’s not all about the money, money, money.
Often times when asked this question a business owner will tell me that they’re cheaper and better than their competitors, and in theory, this is a perfectly fine POD. However, if you are going to do a price-based point of difference, you need to be able to commit to it and deliver it consistently. This may lead to having to cut into your bottom line.
A price point of difference is generally a more effective strategy if you can capitalise on economies of scale. If you’re not sure what this means, basically the greater your buying power, the more you can negotiate on price. For large corporations like Bunnings and Officeworks (both have a “beat it by 10%” type guarantee) this works well. In contrast, if you’re a corner store, you’re probably not going to be able to compete against the likes of Coles or Woolworths on price alone. This is where other strategies come into play.
What makes you so ‘special’?
Here’s the thing. Every business exists to make a profit. Yes, there’s the desire to provide a solution to a problem, do good, and make a difference. Fundamentally, however, you’re here to make money. Everyone knows this, that’s just how businesses work. How you differentiate yourself after that is what’s important.
Let’s say that you’re running a cosmetics business. There are more businesses in this sector than you can shake a pore strip at. So you need to stand out, and be different. Your brand uses predominantly natural products that are vegan-friendly and aren’t tested on animals. Awesome. There’s one already. The ingredients you use are locally sourced to support Australian farmers. Bingo, now we’ve got two. These are the qualities that shape and influence how your brand should be perceived by your target audience. Too many brands opt for a stock standard industry “look” rather than taking the time to consider what makes them special. In many ways, your business is a living entity. It’s the sum of your goals, ethics, and values: these all influence just what your brand is, and how it is perceived.
If you truly want to carve out a position in the market, then you need to have a reason to be there.
Scream it from the rooftops!
Determining your PODs is a fundamental part of setting your business up for success. It’s these PODs that (if done well) will underpin your entire branding and marketing strategies going forward. Unless you’re after a run of the mill, middle-market standardised product, having the lowest price probably isn’t going to be the greatest concern to your target audience. Instead, they want to know how and why your brand connects with their values. Going back to the cosmetics example, just by determining and acknowledging what your point of difference is (ie, that they’re eco friendly) you can very easily establish who your target audience is. From here, a good designer, marketer, and web developer can forge a brand identity that is receptive to your customers’ wants, needs, and desires.
As noted earlier, knowing what your point of difference is, also means knowing who your target audience is; meaning you can then determine how to market to them. If your customer base is eco-conscious mothers living in suburbia, then LinkedIn probably won’t be your channel of choice when it comes to getting your message out there.
When you know your PODs, you have a golden path to sales. You can market what makes you stand out and make sure potential and new customers know what makes you special.