Defining what makes a business unique: the secret sauce of successful marketing
By: Forbes Agency Council
Most employees, including at management level, know what their company does and how it performs its functions. However, even business owners can sometimes struggle to represent the unique value that the firm brings to the table.
In a competitive market, being unique matters immensely. By defining the things that the business does above all others in the field, it allows customers and partners alike to realize the potential it offers to their relationship. That definition could shape the way everyone views the company as a whole.
Below, 12 members of Forbes Agency Council delve into some of the ways a business could define its unique value proposition, and how those companies can market that potential.
Members explain how to define your business's "secret sauce" for successful marketing campaigns.
1. Have A Clear Frame Of Reference
If you ask multiple people in one company, "what business are you in," you'll often get different answers. Defining your frame of reference or the category in which you compete with great specificity is often the secret sauce to brand differentiation. This means examining the concentric circles around your business and seeking your own definition that allows you to compete in an ownable way. - Joanne McKinney, Burns Group
2. Find Your Truth Statement
Stepping back and looking at your business from a strategy level is a great idea to move from asking questions to answering them. Find out your truth statement -- something that no one else in your industry can say -- and you'll have a much easier way of discussing your brand and what value it brings to the market. - Lee Salisbury, UnitOneNine
3. Do A Competitive Set Analysis
Once leadership defines the brand pillars and values, it is imperative that the staff as a whole concur that it actually rings true in practice. The company must also do a competitive set analysis to find if they are indeed unique and challenge assumptions with research. If the brand differentials are both authentic and fresh, it is easy to identify what qualities make a brand unique. - Suzanne Rosnowski, Relevance International
4. Define Your Brand In One Word
As I work with clients to define their brand strategy, I finish off my session by having the client define their entire organization in one word or a two-word phrase. We have seen anything, from "co-creation" to "empathy" and "empowerment." These simple words go beyond the "what" and answer to the "why" and "how." They are a great asset for internal as well as external communications. - Fabian Geyrhalter, FINIEN
5. Amalgamate Executive Responses
Our agency has been using a template for successfully getting at the secret sauce for many years. We ask multiple executives to answer the following questions: Who is your product for? What business problem does it solve? What category best describes your product? Who are your competitors and how is your product different or unique? By amalgamating the answers, we have our secret sauce. - Francine Carb, Markitects, Inc.
6. Practice Self-Reflection
It's often not the business itself that makes a company unique; it's the people, their approach, the intangible elements. The work to be done is self-reflection to explore what the company's specific vision or mission is, and how that differs from other brands in the marketplace. - Drew Gerber, Wasabi Publicity, Inc.
7. Find The "Why"
Ask yourself "why" your company exists. The answer to that question will help reveal your strengths. If it's too hard to answer internally, ask a few customers why they hired your company. The answers should be similar. If they aren't, realign your value proposition to meet the customer's perception. Good communication speaks directly to the audience you want to influence. - Christine Wetzler, Pietryla PR
8. Ask Your Customers
You may know how you want your brand to be unique, but the world may perceive it differently. So, tap into your customers' thoughts with a survey. Their perceptions are reality and ultimately what matters anyway. If they think of you as the "friendly" bank or the "more-expensive-but-worth-it" tire store, then that's what you are. You can lead with that authentic strength in your marketing content. - Scott Greggory, MadAveGroup
9. Tap Into Employee Stories
Companies can present what is unique about them by telling the authentic story of the people that work within the business. When you represent the brand by way of "happy employees," you will gain the trust and loyalty of the people wanting to purchase the product or service. Loyalty marketing from within is what creates a unique position in a highly saturated market of copycats. - Natacha Gaymer-Jones, SWOON MEDIA
10. Focus On Consumer Value
Too many companies focus on features (what they do) and benefits (how that helps customers), but not so much on consumer value (why those benefits matter to customers). If a brand can identify what problem they fix and why that is important to a customer or makes them better, then that should be the focus of their marketing and, by default, what makes their positioning unique. - Stefan Pollack, The Pollack PR Marketing Group
11. Go Back To The Old-Fashioned Discussion Board
Identifying and defining what is unique within a business is like extracting flakes of gold from a pile of sand. Within our company, when we onboard a new client we send them a long list of questions they must answer. We analyze these answers and highlight the differences, then we go through the process of defining their uniqueness. This is another process that takes time and talent to do. - Ally Spinu, USA Link System
12. Start With Your Mission And Values
Companies should start with their mission and values. Sometimes, companies get too focused on what they think customers want to hear rather than how they deliver what's expected. Organizations need to take a close look at what they believe in and how that impacts the delivery of their product and/or service. This approach will ensure their ability to tell a story that differentiates. - Bo Bothe,BrandExtract, LLC