John Vachalek October 18, 2022

Define Your Business’s Differentiating Relevance to Drive Sales

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Like most, your business has most likely seen more competitors enter the market over the past five to ten years. They may be offering more advanced technology or delivering service models that you are unable to provide. Plus, your customers / clients are far more demanding today than ever before. To stay competitive and drive sales, especially if you offer a premium product or service, your prospects and your customers need to clearly understand the advantages of working with you or buying your product over the other options.

Defining your business’s differentiating relevance is about identifying those special things which set you apart from all your competitors. These define what is unique about you and the customer experience you provide. It is what characterizes you as you, and it is distinguishing. In addition, these differentiators must be highly desirable and relevant to your customers / clients.

For over 25 years, we have worked with companies of all sizes, in just about every industry, to help them take a closer look and identify what is truly special about them. This is part of our Intrinsic Multiplier™ Approach which allows businesses to achieve extreme marketplace success ​through highly relevant, competitive differentiation based their unique core values, purpose, strengths, and culture.

In this post, we outline the steps for defining your business’s differentiating relevance to get you on the right track to putting this into use to drive more sales to your business.

How Defining Your Differentiating Relevance Drives Sales

business meeting to define a company's relevanceWith the average person seeing between 4,000 and 10,000 ads in a single day, people have become experts at triaging the barrage of information coming at them. In most cases, we simply ignore ads altogether. If I were to ask you to name five ads you’ve seen today, you probably could not. Then, taking this a step further, when you are in the market for a specific product or service, you will probably absorb more of the ads, but you are much faster at skimming and classifying these into your own mental buckets. It would be impossible to read everything that everyone has to say on a topic. So you typically generalize.

But, what if one of these ads actually said something that no one else was saying? What if someone said something that created a moment of re-evaluation in your decision-making process? What if one of the ads spoke directly to something that would directly benefit you in a way that you didn’t know was possible? Suddenly, you might stop, read a bit more, and try to learn more about this unique company.

By defining your differentiating relevance and actively communicating this, you will:

  • Grab more attention from your target audience
  • Enjoy higher close / purchase rates
  • Benefit from larger initial sales
  • Have higher customer / client retention rates
  • Receive more referral sales

The beauty of all the changes we’ve seen in the world over these past few years is that your customers / clients are more open than ever to a company who provides something special and something unique. There are no boundaries to how you can lead your market forward except your commitment to do this well and your creativity.

Steps for Defining Your Differentiating Relevance

Defining your business’s differentiating relevance is not something you simply jot down. You can’t just wing this. Nearly every new client tells us the same thing. They already know what makes them special. But rarely have they taken the proper steps to create their truly differentiating relevance.

Most companies believe:

  • Their product is better
  • They care more
  • Their customer service is better
  • They are a true “partner” with their clients – we hear this one a lot

Yet, almost always, all their competitors’ websites make the exact same statements. So, by saying all the same things that all their competitors are saying, there is nothing differentiating about their messaging at all! Plus, when a consumer is comparing the products or services of serval competitors and they are saying exactly the same thing about why someone should purchase from them, the only way the consumer / client can make a decision is based on price. After all, everything else appears to be the same.

Let’s look at the steps to doing this right:

1.   Clearly Define Your Target Customer

The key to any compelling interaction is understanding your audience. To create your differentiating relevance, you need take the time to understand:

  • Who are they demographically and sociologically?
  • Why they might have an interest in your product or service?
  • What experience do they have purchasing / using your product or service?
  • What questions or concerns do they have about making a purchase?
  • What are the most important factors they’ll consider in their decision making?
  • What are their goals (be as specific as possible) for purchasing your product or service?
    • Ideally, how could this potentially impact their life?

2.   Understand Your Customer’s Challenges

The more you understand the lives of your audience, the more opportunities you have to create relevance.

Let’s say for a moment that you are selling welcome doormats to homeowners. Some of the challenges they may be experiencing in their lives today might include items that relate to the need for a doormat, while others could be challenges not traditionally associated with purchasing a doormat.

Issues with their existing doormat may include:

  • They do not currently have a doormat
  • Their old doormat wore out
  • They are tired of their existing doormat
  • They just purchased a new home and want a new doormat
  • Their old doormat was too light and blew away

Other potential issues which might be impacting their life may include:

  • Fall is coming, and they need to prepare their yard for winter
  • They are having people to the house for the holidays and want it to look nice
  • Inflation is making their food and other costs higher
  • They want to be more healthy

Be sure to list all the challenges your customer might be facing in their life.  Even if these challenges are not traditionally linked to a specific solution your product or service solves, understanding these issues opens your mind and creates potential opportunities for you provide unique relevance.

There are many ways to better understand your customers’ challenges. The easiest way is to simply ask them. You can send them a quick survey. Alternatively, you can write articles on your website and see if your customers engage with these. You can send an email update to everyone with links to some articles to determine your customers’ level of interest. You can test content on social media channels. You can purchase consumer research, based on your current customer list.

3.   Competitive Research

executive team conducting competitive research to create new relevancyFor each of your competitors, review their marketing strategy. Some of the key factors we typically review include:

  • Their website size in number of indexed pages on Google
  • Their website domain authority
  • Their website’s inbound link profile and number of links
  • Their social media audience size and level of engagement
  • Their amount of monthly website visitors
  • Their website messaging and offerings
  • Their website imagery
  • Their website calls to action

4.   Outline Your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats

Most of you are familiar with conducting a SWOT Analysis. However, many companies do not receive the full benefits of this exercise. Here are some tips for a more successful SWOT:

  • Make sure when you outline your opportunities and threats that these are NOT internal. These are meant to be external factors. They can be things like rising costs, tight job market, increased competition, etc. Then, your strengths and weaknesses should be internal factors.
  • When working with our clients, we take the SWOT one step further by creating a “SWOT Plus”. In this elevated process, instead of looking at the business as a whole, we conduct a SWOT for each primary operational area. Some of these areas include marketing, customer service, sales, operations and innovation. This provides far more in-depth insights and allows us to dig deeper into your business and identify more opportunities.
  • When you are done with your SWOT, review the intersections between threats and strengths, weaknesses and opportunities to identify the critical issues to which you must pay attention over the coming year. Write these down and create a plan to maximize your performance.

5.   Outline Your Relevant Strengths

Now that you understand your audience, your competition’s marketing strategies, and the information in your SWOT, it is time to take stock and document your most relevant company strengths. Be honest and objective about the strengths you truly possess as a business. You can only build a competitive advantage based on strengths you actually have.

List the strengths your business possesses that provide you with the greatest competitive advantage, based on the relevancy (value) that you can create and provide to your audience. These are what you will leverage and capitalize on when defining your business’s differentiating relevance.

6.    Create Your Differentiating Messaging

meeting to create messaging around a company's new relevanceThis is where the rubber meets the road. Even with all the background and insights gained from the steps listed above, it is often difficult for companies to create their own differentiating relevance. They are often just too close to things. It can be difficult to see fresh, larger opportunities. Sometimes this may take an objective third party expert to help facilitate the conversation and help explore more unique possibilities. You can use a sales dialer to automate the process of dialing leads, which can speed up the sales process and increase sales productivity.

To help, here is a format that we use to simplify the process. If you’ve ever done mad libs, it works a bit the same way. The end result should be formatted as follows:

  • We are the only ___________________
    • fill in the blank with what you might call your type of company that is different than everyone else – the more unique, but not confusing, the better
  • in the _____________________ (optional if relevant)
    • fill in the blank with a description of your coverage area or reach
  • That or with a ________________________
    • fill in the blank with something 100% unique to you that you do or are willing to do
  • that, to, or focusing on ________________________
    • fill in the black with relevant benefit for your client / customer

From our doormat example, using the format above, a unique selling proposition (USP) might be something like this:

We are the only Doormat Lifestyle Innovators

                  in the Unites States

                  with the Welcome Home™ mobile app

                  that helps our customers enjoy truly better lives  

The “Welcome Home™” name of the app ties in with the notion of a doormat. Then, based on what we know about our audience, we can bring the USP to life in many unique ways. This opens a whole new set of doors for differentiation.

Here were some of the challenges our audience was facing and how we’d address these with our product line design:

  • That their old doormat wore out
    • Durable, high quality, 10-year guarantee
  • That their old doormat was too light and blew away
    • Heavy enough to stay put even in the strongest wind
  • That they just purchased a new home and want a new doormat
    • Doormats for every season and occasion (including “Welcome To Our New Home”)

Obviously, no one would care about a mobile app if the doormat was poor quality. We must address their immediate questions and needs first. Here were some of the challenges our audience was facing and how we’d address these with our mobile app:

Product-related doormat challenges they are having:

  • They do not currently have a doormat
    • Shop for the best quality, coolest doormats available
  • Their old doormat wore out
    • We provide a 10 year, full-replacement warranty
  • They are tired of their existing doormat
    • Shop for latest styles of many different types of doormats
  • They just purchased a new home and want a new doormat
    • Find the perfect doormat for your home selector – based on type of house and your personality
  • Their old doormat was too light and blew away
    • Shop doormats by weight or doormats resistant to windy conditions

Non product-related challenges in their life:

  • Fall is coming, and they need to prepare their yard for winter
    • Getting ready for winter yard prep checklist with reminders and quick tips
  • They are having people to the house for the holidays and want it to look nice
    • Guide to entertaining after COVID – etiquette, considerations & ideas
  • Inflation is making their food and other costs higher
    • Inflation Fighting Tips for Living & Entertaining
  • They want to be more healthy
    • Welcome to a Healthier Life in 10 Minutes a Day – Quick Insights

All successful companies evolve their messaging along the same path.

When we work with our clients, we gauge where their final message lands on this hierarchy.

  • Commodity
  • Product
  • Service
  • Experience
  • Transformation

You can read more about this in the book, “The Experience Economy” by B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore.

To think about a doormat company promising people that they will enjoy truly better lives is certainly a transformation in the way people think. It positions this company with clearly defined differentiating relevance that they can market.

business leaders defining their relevanceTaking this data-driven and informed approach did far more than create a unique selling proposition. It created and drove an opportunity for the business to redefine itself, based on its strengths, and create something 100% unique within the industry. This shows leadership, creates PR opportunities and allows them to be far more relevant to their customers. As well, once a customer is on the app, the opportunity exists to sell them doormats for every season and occasion. This company evolves from someone who makes doormats (do you know what company made your doormat?) to a company who helps people enjoy truly better lives and sells a lot more doormats.

Some of the next elements we incorporate into bringing this message to life include clearly defining:

  • The emotions that we want to create in our communications
  • The attributes of the company we want to share
  • The voice standards with which we will communicate across all channels
  • The unique vocabulary we will use in our messaging
  • The image & graphic standards, infographics, and icons we will use to tell the story
  • The content marketing topics and strategy we will implement
  • The customer journeys we will create

All successful companies evolve their messaging along the same path. You can read more about this in the book referenced above.

Share Your New Message

Once your differentiating relevancy had been defined, it must be shared through all communications, including your:

  • Website
  • Sales Presentations
  • Speaking Events
  • Blogging
  • Email Communications
  • Customer Journeys

This is now your differentiator. It is who you are.

Continually Evolve and Enhance

As with any messaging, you are going to receive feedback from your customers. The key is to listen to them and keep understanding them at a deeper level. As ideas or messaging improvement opportunities arise, continue to evolve your communications.

Defining Your Differentiating Relevancy FAQs

Q: Who should be involved in defining my company’s differentiating relevancy?

A: The most effective group is your senior leadership team. As the example above points out, this decision involves multiple disciplines within the company. The more senior involvement in the process, the more likely the resulting ideas and strategies can be successfully implemented.

Q: How can we tell if our differentiating relevancy idea will be successful?

A. The easiest way to get feedback about your idea is to talk with your customers. Tell them what you are thinking. Ask them if they would see this as a benefit. Ask them what they like about your product or doing business with you. Ask them how you can improve. This is one of your most valuable resources.

Q: I am not sure if we can do this internally. Who should we get to help?

A: Of course, this is work that we do with our clients on a regular basis, and we would love to help you define your differentiating relevance. Just give us a call and we can talk.

Get Started Today

Defining your differentiating relevance takes intention and commitment. But in today’s competitive marketplace, it is critical to establishing market leadership. To conduct a quick test within your organization:

  • Ask your sales team for a list of the messages they use when closing new business
  • Ask your sales team for a list of the competitors they come across most often
  • Review these competitors’ websites and see if they are using the same selling messages

If so, it is time to define your differentiating messaging. It will have an immediate impact and begin driving more sales.

Summary

Defining your differentiating relevancy will drive more sales by:

  • Grabbing more attention from your target audience(s)
  • Differentiating you from your competitors
  • Connecting you with the needs of customers
  • Increasing new customer close rates
  • Increasing customer referral leads
  • Building a stronger, more recognized brand
  • Increasing customer retention
  • Increasing existing customer repeat sales

About Webolutions

Webolutions is a full-spectrum business consulting and strategic growth implementation company. We help businesses across the country identify and effectively bring their unique story life throughout all experiences, allowing them to scale faster, smarter, and easier.

Our specific areas of expertise include:

  • Differentiating Brand Development
  • Marketing & Communications Strategies
  • Customer Journey Planning & Implementation
  • Enterprise Website & Application Development
  • Systems Integration
  • Organizational Development Strategies
  • Team Alignment & Performance Solutions
  • Business Performance Intelligence Systems

A Special Offer

To speak with one of our experts about how you can create an amazing customer journey for your company of at least $5 million in annual sales, call us at 303-300-2640 and request a Free Differentiating Your Relevancy Consultation. During this 60-minute introduction, we discuss your audience, your specific customer benefits, share ideas and insights, and help you start outlining your plan. You can also email any questions to [email protected].

Free Differentiating Your Relevance Consultation

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