Your point of difference has to be more that quality, price or service.

It has been a few years now since I first heard that quality is a standard point of difference in the market place and in fact has lost its importance. You can imagine my shock, I mean I used to manage a QA function for the Australian Government – quality was my thang. Nope, smashed down … it’s not good enough.

The thing is, as the marketplace gets smaller with the internet expanding, they’re right. Quality is just expected by your customers. Here’s the thing, so is timeliness & service and in some arenas the ability to customise. So what is now the point of difference?

I keep coming back to a quote:
[pullquote align=”normal” cite=”Maya Angelou”]‘People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’ [/pullquote]

This isn’t any different in business, in fact this is a point of difference where others can not compete. Your competition can TRY to replicate how you make your customers feel, but it will never quite be the same. This is how businesses develop a tribe following – think Coke vs Pepsi, Mac vs PC, iPhone vs Android. They all function the same but it’s how the person feels when using and being part of that community that has them coming back.

So how do you engender & foster a good feeling around your business as a point of difference?

The first thing is to know where your core values and beliefs rest. Then you need to find out the same for your ideal client. Here’s the hard thing…

You then need to draw a line between them and constantly and consistently communicate this to your customers. You need to reinforce it on and offline and through all media.

I know it sounds warm, fuzzy, and tree huggy but in an age of growing competition it’s these things that will have your business standing head and shoulders above others. Why?

You see, in business we are actually trying to change someone’s behaviour. You are trying to get them to part with their hard earnt money. You want them to dig deep & cough up. How is this achieved. You need to dig deep into them.

Talking to their core

Ever heard of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, where we need physical needs met and then we can move up to the higher needs? Ok, so when you are trying to influence behaviour you need to meet these needs. Sometimes you will be meeting the lower ones “Got a hunger?”, “Need to warm up this winter?” and other times you will be meeting the higher needs “Want to do more with your life?”, “Want to impact on others?”. The higher they are it doesn’t mean that they are harder to meet. You just need to know what they are for your client and hit them head on. It’s all about making people feel and connecting to them on a deeper level, they won’t forget that.

You see, if you connect at this level you remove the guess work for them. You’ve told them exactly why they need you or your product. They don’t need to work that out from a list of features. Why is this important? Well in the overabundance of businesses competing for your customer, you are telling them why, you aren’t wasting their time by having to compare feature X over Y, you’re saving them time & energy and THAT is important to all of us. Don’t waste their time. Tell them how it meets their needs, their deep core, pressing, fire in the belly needs. That’s a strong point of difference.

Showing empathy/understanding

We have this strong need to feel part of something, to be understood. When you show your customers that you actually understand what their needs are & that you truly aren’t all about pressing your stuff on them, they will appreciate it. Do you get overwhelmed by the constant advertising around you? It’s all ‘buy, buy, buy’, ‘limited time only’, ‘special discounted price’. How does it make you feel? Anxious? These are fear tactics and use scarcity to motivate. Don’t get me wrong, it works, but it doesn’t make your customer feel good. They feel stressed, anxious, and pressured. Do you like feeling like that in a world when the majority of us already have enough stress and feel pressed for time?

So why add to it? When your competition is relying solely on scare tactics, try empathy & understanding as your point of difference. It adds a human element, creating connection. The good thing is that genuine connection and understanding builds connections. Customers will see that there is a real person behind the business. This can make conflict harder as it’s no longer about the exchange of money for goods/services. They understand that there is a person on the other side, one who understands them.

Showing they matter/important

Who doesn’t like their five minutes of fame! We all like to feel special to someone and most of us like to have that publicly recognised. So why not do it. Now it doesn’t have to be a ‘super star customer’, or changing out your Facebook Header Image for their profile picture. Even acknowledging their time in writing a review or sharing their purchase makes a difference. There’s a skill to this though & the biggest mistake you don’t want to make is NOT including a photo of them. Why? If you include their photo in their review or share you not only acknowledge them directly and give them direct bragging rights, you also use one of the most powerful influencers in reviews – a face to a name. You can read more on this article, but in short by using their photo you give others a point to relate with. You see, others will see the image and think, “Wow, they look like a nice, honest person & remind me of xyz, if they use this then I should to! Don’t think you can do this on your social media or website? Try a newsletter, try personalising your newsletter.

The thing is if you just speak to their core needs, beliefs and values they will feel important and that they matter. Your customers will feel that you have spent the time and effort to get to know them and that you value that time you spent doing so and that they matter. A trite ‘your call is important to us’ really doesn’t cut the mustard any more, it’s not a point of difference. A point of difference is offering a call back service, using Facebook Messenger, monitoring Twitter, or using a chat facility on your website. They are different, they are points of difference. They show that you understand that they like to have options, that they may not be able to call during 9-5, that they might not like being on the phone, that they be on a computer all day and having online chat is convenient for them. You show them that you understand we are all different and your time is important to us & we want to be heard.

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