What separates you from your competition?
If you answered “quality” or some variation thereof, YOU FAIL. In today’s market, where there are more options than ever, everyone expects and demands quality from everyone they do business with. Quality isn’t an edge, it isn’t your selling point, it’s simply the right way to act and not lose business.
Marketing 101 tells you that in order to differentiate yourself from your competitors, you have to offer something to your customers that is different. Godin would say you have to be “remarkable”; I simply like to say you have to have an edge. Being remarkable is great, but it isn’t always necessary to attract business. However, having an edge, offering something your competition doesn’t, is necessary.
As an internet marketing consultant, if my angle was that I provided quality service, what value am I in the eye of any prospective client? All of my competitors provide quality service. OF COURSE I provide quality service, I HAVE TO. My edge is in specific experience I have with competitive verticals, my personality, impressive client portfolio, and other awesomeness.
Now, don’t confuse “quality” with “high-end”. If you’re selling the highest-end product in your market, that’s an angle. But if you say you’re selling the best toolset in your industry, you have to substantiate your claim and prove your edge and worth.
Where to start? It all begins with your brand strategy. How you brand yourself should define what your edge is and how you demonstrate it to people. You should be marketing yourself based on how you differentiate from your competition. Reassuring your product’s or service’s quality is a great thing to do, but not something to hinge your marketing strategy on.
Some Companies that Have an Edge
Outspoken Media is the perfect example of a service business that has a clearly defined edge. With the detailed coverage they provide of industry events, thought-provoking commentary, and loud mouthed tweets, there is no doubt that they represent their brands namesake and everyone knows it.
The bio on Knowem’s Twitter Profile reads: “*The Original* Prevent Social Media Identity Theft”. Knowem pioneered the idea of username prevention squatting and created an amazing service based around it. Sometimes being the first one in the market gives you enough of an edge to dominate.
BMW came up with the slogan “The Ultimate Driving Machine” and has been playing that angle for years. Do they make good cars? Absolutely. Do they make cars that are vastly superior to their competitors? No. But because of the edge they have branded themselves with, they have been able to maintain a significant market share even in a declining economy.
Google built it’s business by offering a search engine with a clean interface to a world that was used to Yahoo! Apple built it’s empire by marketing a computer and operating system that was simple, easy to use, and “different”. Remember the “Think different.” campaign? If you can’t differentiate yourself, you have no shot at longevity.