1. Understand what makes you unique special and different..
Brainstorm with your team; undertake a SWOT with your Senior Management Team; arrange meetings with your whole teams – you’ll be surprised at the input and feedback you can obtain. What process do you have for acting on feedback given from your customers to your staff? Do you have a process to obtain testimonials? What do you do with the results? Your customers will tell you how it is. If you get it wrong, take them out to lunch and learn what happened and then ensure your process is sound so that those errors aren’t repeated.
Is it the simple things that go towards making you unique? For example answering your switchboard rather than immediately being greeted by an automated list of options, or your call centre is UK based, or open for longer, or professional practices open late one evening (by appointment) for people at work. If you are willing to go that extra mile for a client/prospect, do you communicate the fact?
If your differentiators are reliability and agility, or a technical brilliance, what goals have you set for your teams to understand this, and what rewards are in place for achieving it? Or maybe they are services that your competition just doesn’t offer. Is it clear that you do?
2. Dare to be different
Don’t just do what everyone else is doing. Dare to be different. Reach out to your prospects through mediums that your competition isn’t already using. Review your strategy and be prepared to be flexible. Test and Measure.
3. Does your team understand your values?
Your core business values drive such things as your work ethic, your interaction with and commitment to your customers and employees. Does everyone understand yours? What’s the process for ensuring new staff understand? Your values and brand need to be a part of everything you do and breathe – and must be communicated in all your relationships, both with clients, prospects and suppliers.
4. Thought Leadership
One definition is “establishing a relationship with and delivering something of value to your stakeholders and customers that aligns with your brand/company value. In the process you go well beyond merely selling a product or service and establish your brand /company as the expert in that field and differentiate yourself from your competitors.” (Thoughtleadershipstrategy.net, July 2009)
So what can you do? For regular readers of my newsletters, you’ll know you need to position yourself as an expert and be seen to be that expert. Writing articles, blogs for your website and wider media which are helpful and useful to your target market and linking with your twitter pages is just one example. What are you doing?
5. Be passionate
If you’re not passionate about your business, your staff aren’t going to be either.
6. Check your website
What does your home page say? How many times does it refer to ‘you’ in the copy, ie the reader? It needs to! Does it show how you help solve problems? Does it show how you are different from others? Does it demonstrate your value and what is ‘left behind’ after you have bought your service/product, eg a university degree (usually) is the path to a better job in life. Is the copy succinct, with short sentences and bullets? Take a look and put steps for change in place if necessary. Does it tell me clearly why I should use your business.