~by Charlene Norman~
Most of us enter self-employment or entrepreneur-land with an idea for a product or service. And whatever it is we decide to deliver has a 98% chance of being a “me-too” version of something already in existence. Someone else near us or close to us is selling pretty much the same thing. (If you do not believe me, just google your product or check the phone book.) Competition is all around, and one of the biggest things we need to understand is the concept of differentiation.
The ONLY thing that stands out, that sets you apart, that makes your product or service different, is YOU. Your personality, your amazing ability to save your customer time or money, and/or your unique spin on the products and services. You see, you are not selling JUST your products and services. You are selling you. That means your trustworthiness, your personality, your credibility, your morals, your character, your view of the world and your ethics. Your good days and bad, your good moods and cranky ones, your dreams to make the world a better place, your grooming, your hobbies and in fact, pretty much everything about you. Once you completely understand THAT, everything falls into place. Differentiating yourself from everyone else becomes real easy.
There are two colossal reasons for dealing with differentiation early in your entrepreneur journey. Differentiation helps you ensure you continually focus on standing out (You will call that your Purpose). And differentiation helps you set the direction of what you ultimately deliver (You will call that your Promise).
Let’s take a simple example. These days, there seems to be a Dental office on nearly every corner. Everyone has a sign. All the signs say pretty much the same thing: “Miss Evelyn Entrepreneur, Family Dentist”. If you were a Family Dentist wanting to establish your own practice, what is so different about you? Now, take a look at this sign: “Family Dental Group. We make smiles every day”. Notice the different promise that is made? The tone is different; the promise is different and accordingly, so is the purpose.
If you are truly in the business of making smiles every day, your whole focus, the way you practice your craft, the way your employees work and interact should be different from other family dentists. Think about your potential customers. Everyone likes a smile. How much easier would it be to entice future customers with the promise of we make smiles every day? How much easier would it be to attract, inspire and manage employees who want to make smiles every day? How much easier would it be to keep your customers and expand your business when you know that what you are passionate about is making smiles daily?
Please do not restrict yourself to thinking exclusively about the service or the product you deliver. Reflect on the concept you are providing to your customers. Think about your Purpose. I like Kellogg’s purpose: “Nourishing families so they can flourish and thrive”. No mention of breakfast cereal! Instead, there is a promise to make a difference. This is your opportunity to do the same thing. Be funny or be serious, be profound, be creative. Just do not limit yourself to only describing the service or product you deliver. You are delivering much more than your service or product. You are promising to make a difference.
“DO NOT GO WHERE THE PATH MAY LEAD, GO INSTEAD WHERE THERE IS NO PATH AND LEAVE A TRAIL” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Begin thinking about an easy-to-say, 30-second commercial. Some people refer to this as your Elevator Speech, others your Unique Selling Proposition. I call it a commercial because it is your personal advertisement. It is your response to “What do you do?” If you cannot say it in 30 seconds or less, your potential customers will walk away. If you fall into the category of “well, what I do is complicated to explain, let me show you a video.” Shame on you. You will NEVER ever get a good level of business. If you cannot explain your reason for being in business in 30 seconds, why on earth would anyone want to watch your 15 minute video?
Your 30-second commercial is NOT about you, it’s about what you DO for your customer. So, use equal parts of emotion, visualization and fact. You want to grab the emotions, paint a picture, and roll in some facts. And yes, this is not an easy exercise. It will very likely take you a while to develop. Don’t worry, it’s an iterative process, and you’ll have many opportunities to rethink and refine.
Here’s an excellent exercise to get you started. Write out your business idea in terms of your Purpose and Promise. Now try to distill it into 50 words or less. Then take those 50 words and distill them to 25. Then into ten words or less.
Those final few words are what you are all about. Are what you are offering. Those final few words are either your Purpose driving you forward, your Promise to your customers, or both.
Your Purpose is a Sacred Promise. It guides ALL your decisions.
Charlene is a CPA turned marketer turned business cheerleader and coach. Currently completing two of three books about buying 60, selling 10 and saving 30 companies, she now helps business owners who want to go to the next level.