If your company is like most, you are finding it increasingly difficult to provide differentiation from your competition. Your customers may be satisfied, but are they telling others about your company? Do you have a strategy that makes it easy for your target customers to choose you over the competition? Does your brand represent factors, services, or features that are unusual in your industry and critical to the buying decisions of your target customer? If not, you have a strategy problem!
In my experience, the majority of small and medium-sized businesses are stagnating because of this strategy problem. My evidence is simple. Of the organizations you do business with, what percentage do you believe have given you exceptional service and/or have provided you with above-average value for your money? How many companies did you rave about last month, and how many did you do business with that you have not and will not mention to others? The fact is that the overwhelming majority of experiences meeting average scores on all counts, which is why customers are not loyal to them and make their decisions primarily on price.
What Makes Your Company Different?
Meanwhile, if you were to ask the owners/leaders of most businesses what makes them different and special, they will tell you “service.” Depending on your business, key measures of determining how well you are doing in this area are market-share penetration, customer penetration, and the number of new clients resulting from referrals and reputation. I have found that customer retention rates are not necessarily a good indicator, and certainly not if you cannot increase market share.
Business Owners Facts to Change
Over the last 12 months I have spoken to, served and met with several hundred business owners. I have discovered a few alarming facts. First, most businesses have a little understanding of what is truly important to their customers. They gather little or no external data and operate on false assumptions. As a result, their brands offer no promises that differentiate them from competitors. While everyone needs to address basic needs like price, quality, and timeliness, high-growth companies gather external data to help validate and identify the real difference-makers other than price. You are not just looking for differences. You are trying to identify those elements that would cause prospects to choose you over the competition and potentially consider paying a premium to do so. Second, once those difference-makers have been identified, there is not enough focus on improving internal processes to become the best in the industry at delivering those differences. In other words, there is a strategy in theory but not in practice. Third, leaders fail to measure whether they are delivering an unusual level of performance on the difference-makers. As a result, there is little accountability for delivering on your strategy. Lastly, many companies do a poor job of making sure their current customers recognize the value they are receiving and fail to capture their differentiation effectively in their marketing and sales activities. As a result, all their special efforts are invisible to the world or taken for granted.
If you are interested in improving your business strategy and discovering your brand promises, let’s schedule a time to further discuss your business. Call Howard Shore for a FREE consultation (305) 722-7213.