Differentiate Your Business From The CompetitionThe other night, I was out at my favorite sushi restaurant. We go there quite regularly because both my son and I are in love with their rolls, especially their Signature Dynamite Roll.

Being the marketer I am, I couldn’t help but notice, as the little boats floated around with various dishes, that others must share our passion. The boats were full of our favorite rolls.

Yet, oddly enough, the sign outside promoted their excellent service. Now, don’t get me wrong, their service is second to none! But the problem with boasting quality and service is that these are expectations, not differentiations.

So if you had a sign that was limited to just a few words, what would you highlight about your company? In other words, what makes you truly different?

Having done many surveys for my clients, asking their customers these very pointed questions, I can tell you this: nine times out of ten it is in the little things. So how can you find out what makes you remarkable?

Ask Your Clients

No one can articulate your strengths better than your clients. Ask them why they chose you in the first place. Ask them why they continue to do business with you. Ask them how they would explain why you’re great to others. The scariest thing we can do is assume we know what makes us special.

Identify Industry Frustrations

Here’s an eye-opener: Ask people (and your clients) what frustrates them about people in your industry. If they remain incredibly polite, then take yourself out of the equation and ask them what frustrates them about your competitors. If you are great at probing and uncovering the root of an issue, you will find ways to turn this frustration into a strong differentiation. Let me give you an example: A lawyer for a large company here in Calgary asked his clients why they enjoyed doing business with him. He heard, over and over again, that they felt he kept them in the loop.

Interestingly enough, one of the major frustrations people have with lawyers in general is this feeling that they aren’t being told the whole story. Now, this may have come out in various ways, like, “I don’t trust them,” or, “Their service is poor.” It takes further questioning to uncover the root of the distrust and to realize that it’s a communication issue. This lawyer had identified a “little thing” that made him different in the eyes of his potential clients.

So go forth and discover what makes you truly different. It is one of the least expensive ways to gain an edge on your competitors.

AvatarCidnee Stephen

Cidnee Stephen is the owner of Strategies for Success, a marketing company that focuses on the needs of budget minded small businesses and professional services. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.