Like so much other advice, one of the best tips for an organization launching any sort of marketing or PR campaign is quite simple, yet at times, deceivingly difficult – define and differentiate.
Let’s quickly explain both. Define involves clearly articulating who you are, what you do and whom you serve. Differentiate explains how your organization is different (and better) from your competitors.
It might seem like basic advice, but it’s a step that often is rushed, fumbled or overlooked altogether. It isn’t necessarily because of negligence. Virtually every CEO, CMO, VP (you get the point) has an intimate understanding of their company. Especially for entrepreneurs, this is something they live, breath, eat, sleep and bleed. You ask them what they do and how they are different from the competition, and without missing a beat, they’ll give you a well-rehearsed elevator pitch. But as crisp and confident as these deliveries can be, they don’t always reflect reality – namely the concerns and interests of their intended customers.
Here are three crucial elements to consider when defining and differentiating your company:
There’s a certain business lexicon that many companies – B2B ones in particular – feel bound to. You see this in how they describe themselves all the time. “Company X provides innovative, best-in-class solutions that optimize processes for companies ranging from Y to Z.”
So. Much. Jargon.
These buzzwords actually have the opposite of their intended effect. Instead of demonstrating how amazing your company is, it sounds like every other company trying to stand out. Worse, they do little to articulate the organization’s value proposition to prospective clients. If anything, they just leave them more confused and/or with the impression that you’re no different than all the others. Speak like a real person talking to another real person.
Because those leading a company are so close to it all, it can be tremendously difficult to step back and take an objective view of their organization. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You need a certain degree of confidence and self-assuredness to get and keep a business going.
But that also makes it harder to recognize your faults or where your business isn’t that different from others out there. Whether they be a mentor, consultant or confidant, having someone outside your organization who can provide candid feedback – so long as you’re willing to hear it – can help you avoid a number of pitfalls when trying to figure out how to position your company.
Customer and Competitor Insights
Most important – yet frequently overlooked – is a proper audit of your customers and competitors. For your customers, who are they? What problem does your service or product solve for them? What emotions do they associate with it? Where do they go to find information about this issue? What words do they use when researching it? How are they currently solving this problem?
And for your competitors, how are you identifying them? How do they describe themselves? What type of customer are they trying to reach? What value propositions do they claim? What words or emotions do they employ in their messaging?
These are just a sampling of the questions you should answer about both your customers and competitors. And while it might seem like you and your team can easily sit around a conference room for a few hours and address them on your own, resist that temptation. Properly answering these takes planning and insight exercises like customer surveys and interviews, social media listening, and competitive benchmarking.
It’s understandable that you just want to start selling and make tweaks along the way. But too often, that’s like waiting to fix a flat tire until you’re already on the highway. Taking the time to gather your customer and competitive insights to inform your core messaging will make your launch infinitely more successful. Which is important, because remember, you only get one chance at a first impression.