How To Differentiate Your Business
Here's the story of Jack and Jill. Unlike the nursery rhyme they didn't roll down a hill, however Jack often felt like he was trying to roll a boulder up one!
He couldn't understand how he worked just as hard as Jill yet she seemed to effortlessly have a steady stream of prospects and new clients, while he struggled to get people to pay what he thought he was worth.
And even more frustratingly - as if not having enough clients or money wasn't stressful enough - they wouldn't take his advice.
This meant that Jack wasn't always able to produce work he was really proud of and that got his clients better results.
So what's the key difference between Jack and Jill? In this instance it's simply that Jill has a differentiation strategy.
Why is it important to know how to differentiate?
There are 3 reasons that make having a differentiation strategy vital and I'm sure you already know all about them...
- Increased competition due to the availability of technology, lower price of entry and globalisation
- The lowering perception of value for creative services due to platforms like 99 Designs and Fiverr
- The increasing DIY mentality due to the said technology and apps. Anyone with a smartphone and a laptop can be a photographer, filmmaker, designer or social media manager
So if you want to attract clients that value the impact that you can make for them, you need to know how to stand out - in a good way! 😉
Yet the 'tall poppy syndrome' of being afraid to get your head chopped off can get in the way of this.
People like you and me - artists and creatives - can be sensitive souls. And particularly when young may have built barriers around us for protection.
While it might have served us at the time, hiding and a fear of failure could stop you from implementing the differentiation strategy steps below.
What these steps help you do is to make your competition irrelevant. Jill doesn't care about the competition because she's able to attract and convert her ideal clients.
Intimately Know Your Audience
A way of thinking about intimacy I learned from relationship books...
Intimacy = into-me-see
It's not enough to have a niche or ideal client, you need to really know what your ideal is thinking, feeling and doing.
And the only way to do this is to ask them and/or interview them.
Because while researching in forums is a great start, you've got to be able to go deeper...
What people say publicly is one thing, however you've got to be in a trusted conversation where they will open up truthfully and also be able to see their behaviour.
As I'm sure you well know us humans can be weird creatures and what we say and what we do don't always match up.
This means that you need to be able to identify your ideal clients' behaviour too.
And some of this will come from your interactions with clients - perhaps even a lot of it if you've been in a business for a few years or more...
Add Value Through Your Marketing
Don't just give lip service to wanting to help your clients and potential clients. Actually help them!
Now I don't mean that you ought to devalue yourself by giving away loads of your time, or by not charging appropriately. Quite the opposite.
You've got find ways of truly helping this audience that you care about, while still being in service to yourself.
So educate your ideal client on their problems and on how to achieve their aspirations as part of your marketing. This will attract potential ideal clients.
Then, for those that 'put their hand up' for more as part of your sales funnel (you do have at least one of those don't you?) you get to help them in more depth through a free training, report, video, checklist, etc.
But don't give them fluff! This is a way for you to stand out in a good way.
For example, I do this through my weekly live show, this blog and people who have a free intro call with me.
On this 15 minute call they will get to discover something they didn't know, get a different perspective, a tip, etc. Then if they want more they'll book a Get Focused Strategy Session.
From this session they'll go away with an action plan. Many can and will go and implement this action plan themselves. Others ask me to support them through this process and provide accountability through group or one-to-one coaching.
Close Open Loops
How is your creative service used? What comes before it, after it? How can you tap into that to provide what your client really needs that makes it a no brainer for them?
For instance there's a video editor who is providing a complete content repurposing service.
Social media managers who also provide copywriting to ensure their clients have content to share.
Graphic Designers who provide research services to ensure their brand consultancy is on point.
Sometimes people don't buy because it means they have to go and close the loop for themselves and it just isn't a priority for them. So how could you apply this to your business because it will definitely make your competition irrelevant.
Build Trusted Referral Networks
What's the first thing you do when you want a supplier? You'll most likely either ask a friend, post on social media or hit the internet and check out reviews.
What others say about you and your offering is vital to build trust.
When somebody has referred you - or your reviews stand head and shoulders above the rest - this makes often makes your competition irrelevant because people will often stop searching.
Particularly if your marketing and sales funnel(s) help them too... 😉
Use Globalisation & Tech to Your Advantage
If you feel like your competition have an unfair unvantage then it's time to take advantage for yourself.
Have you ever heard the saying...
"What's in the way, IS the way..."
A great way to look at any challenge is to see what opportunities it creates for you. There is always an opportunity, if you just look at things from a different perspective...
Keep an eye on market conditions and currency fluctuations that could make your offering more affordable in other countries.
What do you or could you outsource to a cheaper country?
What technology could you use to simplify, speed up and/or reduce the cost of your marketing, sales processes or providing your product or service to clients?
In what way have you found this article &/or live video of value? Please comment below with your experience, views and questions because I love to hear from you.
And remember to share so other creatives like you and me get to benefit too. 🙂
About the Author
Una is a Business Coach & Strategist for Creative Services Providers (Design, Animation, Marketing/Digital Agencies, etc.). She helps them to stand out from the crowd confidently & profitably so they can attract high-level, 'Ready to Invest' clients, doing creative work that fills their hearts with pride - WITHOUT selling their soul or adding extra workload.