If you’re in business, then you know that standing out from the crowd is essential to your sales success. But in the sea of similar sellers out there, how exactly do you stand out? Easy. You find and market your point of difference.
What's a point of difference? It's how your product stands out from that of your competitors — in a very specific, positive way.
Pinpoint your Point of Difference
To figure this out, you need to know how your product is different in all sorts of ways, good and bad.
Some points that you could consider:
- Customer service
- Your story (how, why or where you do business)
A Dog Eat Dog World
Let’s say that you’re in the dog-biscuit business. You decide that your dog treats will feature all natural, exotic ingredients, the benefits of which include easing indigestion and helping with weight loss programs in pets.
The biscuits will be available at certain renowned pet stores and also online. They're shipped free of charge and even offered in gift-wrapped packaging.
Your website offers an automatic replenishment feature so customers never run out, and they can contact you personally to ask your advice on buying treats that are perfect for their pet's needs.
You also play up the story behind the creation of your business to add an extra point of differentiation from companies born just to make profits.
These are your points of difference. Identifying these — and what helps you stand out — can help you market and sell your products or services.
Here are two easy ways to figure out your points:
Method One: Be a Detective
1. Draw three columns on a piece of lined paper.
2. In the first column, list one of your top competitors.
3. In the second column, note how your products are similar (both use organic ingredients; both cost $25; both are healthy dog biscuits, etc).
4. In the third column, note how your products are different (theirs are made in China/mine is handmade; theirs costs $49/mine costs $29; theirs comes in two flavors/mine comes in 10, etc.).
Repeat these four steps for up to 10 competitors. When you're done, look for recurring points you've listed in the "differences" column.
Find any? Bingo. Those recurring points show some major differentiation that lets you easily stand out from the competition.
Method Two: Just Ask
It's that simple. Find someone you can ask what makes your product stand out. And by someone, I mean someone unrelated to you. Not your mother or your sister or your husband or your best friend.
Ask your customers. Ask them why they purchased from you. Ask them if they considered buying from the competition and if so, what made them choose your product instead. Ask them what they like about your product — and what they don't — and ask why they feel your product is the best choice for them.
Ask these questions to as many customers as you can — preferably 20 or more. Write the answers down, and scan through the list to spot recurring points of difference. To make this process even easier, you could send a quick survey to your last 50 customers using Survey Monkey — your answers will be organized and ready for point of difference analysis.
Once you've determined your point of difference...
Market, Baby, Market!
When you know your points of difference, 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.
How do you market your differentiation? Mention it everywhere:
- Your website’s landing page
- Your business cards
- Your company name (Think The Launch Coach and Toys-R-Us)
- Your wholesale brochure
- Your website bio
- Your product packaging
- Your shipping container
- Your logo
- Your email signature
- Your social media profiles and backgrounds
When you define your points of difference and market them well, getting your business noticed is easy. And you'll easily answer the crucial question potential customers always ask: "Why should I buy from YOU?"
Heather Allard is a mother of three kids, Hope, Grace & Brendan — and one big dog, The Dude. She’s also the founder of TheMogulMom.com, a website for moms who run a business, raise a family and rock both. You can find her on Twitter at @heathALL.