What is your Key Differentiator? Hint: It is NOT Customer Service

As a marketing professional the first question I ask a new client is what they do different and/or better than their competitors.  In other words, how do they stand out in a competitive world of multiple brands? What do you think most business owners say? The number one response is “customer service.”  I always politely respond with, “customer service does not speak to a specific need and it doesn’t evoke emotion.” Answering with customer service is like asking a car wash business what they do best… hmm…wash cars ? Customers expect a service in exchange for their hard earned cash so “service” should be a given. The question business owners need to answer is, “what unique value do you offer your clients?”

Once you establish what makes your business stand out, you must answer why this is a value to your clients. In others words, how will your product or service make a difference in their life and why does it matter?

Key Differentiator: 

Your business should have one key differentiator that leaves a lasting impression. Your key differentiator should associate a positive emotion to your brand.  How does your brand make consumers feel?  Does it imply a feeling of comfort, confidence, efficiency, security—something else?  Like Nike’s motto “just do it”, the brand conjures a feeling of accomplishment and motivation. If you’re stuck with your key differentiator, ask your valued customers to describe in detail what they think you excel at to help you discover, validate and define your value proposition.

What’s your Thing? 

Your brand must offer something memorable that speaks to your potential clients about what you do different/better than your competitors. If you do this well your brand will stand out in a competitive market place. Effectively communicating what your thing (and remember its not customer service) will help you be accountable and consistent with your brand message to ensure you fulfill your value proposition to your customers.  Whether they are in the market to buy your product or service or not, they will remember your brand.  And remembering your brand can make the difference between buying from you vs. buying from them.