Doing research on our local market (Orange County California) I have logged onto hundreds of websites in a wide variety of industries to search out how companies are creating value and selling their brand. But instead of creating differentiaion, virtually every company was echoing the exact same three “competitive advantages.”This kind of “me too” branding is a diluted and ineffective way to position yourself in the market, and results in you having to compete by lowering your price and lowering your profits.
Here are three value propositions that (just about) every single company, in every single industry is saying:
1 – We offer top quality
2 – We’re committed to customer service
3 – Our people make us different
First, these statements don’t actually tell your prospects anything. With so many companies repeating the same lines for decades, these declarations have lost meaning. Rather than repeating over-used taglines, tell the market exactly what your brand stands for. In other words, don’t repeat the word “quality” to them again; tell them what quality means in your product and what it means for them. For example, if “quality” means your product won’t break, then say “we make our products with a titanium blend alloy which lasts approximately ten times as long as our competitors, who all use a weaker aluminum base.” Alternatively, if “service” is what really separates you, tell the market what service means to them: “We have 500% more tech support on hand than any of our competitors, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. A live person will answer the phone within the first four rings, or your tech support call is free!”
Second, every other company on the block is saying these exact same things. An alarmingly large number of companies use these exact same set of three statements to clarify why they’re different! The problem is if five competing companies say and sell the same thing, they are all reduced to commodities where you can only compete by lowering your prices and undercutting the competition – not the most profitable way to run a business.
Don’t take my word for it – try your own research. Log onto some of your competitor’s websites and click on the link, “What makes us different,” or, “Why use us,” and check how “different” their core value statements are. Furthermore, most consumers usually expect customer service departments to let them down, and if every company is “committed to service” then they must not be telling the truth, – or, at least exaggerating. And, if these companies are committed to “top quality,” and most of the products we buy break or don’t work, than most of these companies must also be ‘exaggerating.’
When our agency starts a new design project or ad campaign, the first thing we do is to use the Creative Brief to nail down the key takeaway message and truly help clarify what makes our clients relevant to the market. A vital aspect of your strategy is the core value statement; it differentiates you from your competitors and creates marketability. If you create the perception that what you offer is genuinely unique, then the market has no choice but to buy it from you. In essence, you want to create a monopoly where you can raise your rates and raise your profits.
To create a message that has meaning, search from the internal perspective (what you are selling) and evaluate from the external perspective (your brand – what the market trusts they’ll receive from you), then tell the market in their own terms what you offer them, how you’ll make their life easier, and how much value you’ll bring. In any case, avoid the 3-Strikes (Quality, Service, Our People) and tell us why you truly are, different.
Kevin Daniels is a Principle rabble-rouser at Ruckus Creative, llc, with 20 years in advertising and marketing.
Ruckus Creative is a results-driven, full-service creative and branding agency
“Business results through strategic creative.”
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