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How to position your business to avoid competing on price

To differentiate your business from your competition, there are certain positioning statements to avoid in your brand messaging. Otherwise, you can get stuck sounding like everybody else. 

A number of years ago…

I worked with a career coach on my resume. In my resume, I had a phrase that said, “Results-oriented communicator.”

“Uggghhh,” my coach groaned. “Results-oriented.”

Now, as much as writers love having their work greeted by the phrase “ugh,” I can’t say it was the reaction I expected.

“Isn’t it a good thing to be results-oriented?”

“Of course,” my coach responded. “Unfortunately, it’s one of those phrases that people have so overused that it doesn’t mean anything anymore. Companies are jaded. They hear that phrase and tune it out. You aren’t setting yourself apart.

How good brand messaging can go awry

I find myself thinking about that conversation when I’m working with organizations that want to differentiate their business.

If you want to give people a clear reason to choose your brand, it’s important to find a positioning statement for your business that is:

  1. Relevant and appealing to your audience.
  2. Unique to your organization.
  3. Clear and understandable.
  4. Memorable.

What do you do or offer better than anyone else… that customers just love?

What can you say you’re a leader in… that really appeals to your target market?

Here’s the catch.

As you think about how to position your business, make sure you don’t get latch onto a characteristic that is:

  • Simply expected of all businesses in your industry.
  • So overused that it has worn out its welcome with customers.

Want to position your business as the customer service leader? Think again.

In brand messaging, one of the most overused phrases that I come across is “great customer service.”

In many cases, great customer service is simply expected from customers.

It’s a prerequisite, rather than a point of differentiation.

In other cases, companies spend a lot of time talking about great customer service in their marketing messages, but they don’t deliver great service through their brand experience. As a result, customers have grown skeptical of companies that claim to have superior service.

I’m not saying that customer service isn’t important. It may be incredibly important for your business. I’m simply saying that it’s difficult to use “customer service” as your unique selling point.

Generally, positioning your business as a leader in customer service will not set you apart.

And when customers don’t have a way to differentiate your business from your competitors, they compare you on price.

A few more overused buzzwords, while we’re at it…

In one of my favorite articles from ColoradoBiz magazine, David Heitman of The Creative Alliance discusses how to write an effective tagline. In doing so, he advises readers to avoid “the words of tagline death.”

What buzzwords can doom your company’s tagline to mediocrity or worse?

Service. Quality. Commitment. Excellence.

It’s not that these ideas aren’t important. The problem is that one company after another tries to claim these concepts as their own.

As with customer service, these overused words can make a business instantly forgettable.

How to make your business more compelling

So here’s your quandary. If a characteristic, such as customer service, is what sets your business apart, how do you transform it from a sleep-inducing selling point into a more compelling concept to position your business?

Dig deeper.

You need to get to the heart of what makes your customer service special.

I work with a business that offers better service than its competitors. Unfortunately, their competitors claim they offer great service too.

To differentiate their brand, my client recognized that they needed a different positioning statement. They conducted some competitive analysis and collected input from their customers.

In doing so, they discovered that what really makes their business special is their compassion. They:

  • Are great listeners.
  • Are empathetic.
  • Take phone calls from their customer in the middle of the night because they know their customers need immediate help.
  • Adapt to their customers’ unique needs. They even drive to and hand deliver their products when their customers are in a time of great need.

Compassion is what sets them apart.

As you look for the characteristic that makes your business special, look for concepts that are tangible, concrete, and vivid. Be specific. Don’t settle for bland, blanket phrases.

Dig deeper.

Until next time!