At ChangeAgents we've been reflecting. Now we're keen to attract your attention to a radical idea for 2014:
Spend less time making your business better...
Spend more time making it different.
Let your curiosity explore differences - just as you'd explore a new city. You may be pleasantly surprised...So what makes your business different?
A lot of organisations are looking at how to differentiate themselves and stand out from the crowd.
We live in a world where there is a product & information surplus and an attention deficit.
Most marketers are obsessed with selling on features & benefits instead of deeply understanding what their business stands for - or even why it matters.
- not in terms of surface changes to logo, signs or new brochure.. but different in terms of making a difference that is real & relevant in the lives of your staff & your customers.
The challenge is...
how to get the core beliefs of people inside the business to connect with the fundamental human values of the people they serve?
In Marketing 101, we all learnt about "differentiation" but almost as quickly forgot about why it's important or how to apply it.
Differentiation - the act of designing a set of meaningful differences to distinguish your offering from your competitors.
So much time is spent mapping out marketing strategy. Not enough is spent understanding & 'designing' your difference.
Your difference decides your importance. It determines who pursues you [extremely valuable if you hope to attract a critical mass of the right type of customers].
Most companies are locked in a battle of sameness.
That's why brands need to work that much harder to create meaningful grooves of difference that are both distinct & desirable.
This is counter-intuitive to most companies. Sameness & similarity create comfort & feels less risky.
But our difference creates our reward.
How to change from a simplistic point of difference to a substantive point of meaning?
(1) Make a difference:
It's not what you sell, but what you stand for. Your organisation can't move in the right direction if people don't know what you believe in. Start by investing time in discovering your raison d’être - or your reason for being and what difference this will bring to the world. Modern brand strength is built by sticking to your beliefs and not the size of your ad spend. Moving from making a name for yourself to making a difference - means people will start to support your cause.
(2) Think different:
Understand the rules of your sector ad then start to break them...this helps you shake the shackles lose and change the game. What's critical is to realise that your brand shouldn't appeal to all people as this is a dangerous place to be. Instead think about how you can divide the room and appeal to the people who will value you the most.
Once you're clear about who your customers are, think about how to operationalise your brand values or ideals across every customer touch point. There are 5 areas of differentiation including Brand, Product, Experience, People & Channel. The ability to think creatively & innovatively in each of these areas is what will create distance between yourself & your competitors.
(3) Do different things:
Modern branding isn't taught in books..it's being created in the market through trial & experimentation. In our socially connected world brand actions speak louder than words...and trust is no longer created by authority but transparency. Customers and staff will want to see what you stand for and what you're working towards and how this is expressed through both words & deeds. This is a shift away from communicating an image to delivering an experience for customers. So start by doing different things - hacking existing approaches and re-mixing them in a way that's fun & memorable for your customers. Imagination not calculation is the 'difference' that ultimately makes a difference.
Good luck with distilling the difference of your Brand in 2014. Done right it will arouse desire & delight but also build indelible emotional bonds that lead to loyalty & trust. That's the holy grail. Because once customers know what you stand for and believe that they can't live without it - we all win.
Thank you for joining us today and let us know if this has made a difference to you.