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What makes your business different?

Hello everyone. Thank you for joining me for today’s blog post. I know you’re all very busy and have a lot going on, so I really appreciate you sharing your time with me. I love serving the small business community so it’s wonderful to be able to share helpful information and insights with you through these posts. I want to be able to provide small business help so you can create a business that gives you the life you want! Without further ado, let’s get into today’s post.

Houston, Texas is a major metropolitan city, which may or may not be like the city you live in. There are a lot of people and in this massive city there are a lot of convenience stores. There are also plenty of gas stations. I remember moving to Houston, and when I became more accustomed to driving down some of the major highways, there was a convenience store and gas station that stood out above the rest. It’s called Buc-ee’s, and if you’re from Texas you’ve probably heard of it.

I clearly remember driving through on I-10, far from Houston, waiting 50 miles before I could get to a Buc-ee’s. It was some place I always stopped, and it became a destination stop for my wife and I. Now that we have kids it’s somewhere we almost always stop when we’re going on road trips. If there are other convenience stores or gas stations along the way, we will wait just so we can make it to Buc-ee’s.

There are a lot of things that make Buc-ee’s great. But the one thing, and this is what we’re going to talk about today, is what makes them different. We’re going to think about the following questions: What makes you different as a business? What are your key differentiators? The one thing that makes Buc-ee’s different is that they have the most amazing, clean restrooms. This is a game-changer for their entire organization. Now think about that for a second. I remember going on road trips with my family as a kid. Everywhere we went the restrooms were horrible and disgusting, we didn’t even want to go in there. We actually went in roadside parks too which were even worse at the time. But Buc-ee’s did something that very few people probably would have thought about. They thought about marketing and creating a huge differential product based on the cleanliness of their restrooms. So to this day you literally go into the restroom at Buc-ee’s and there’s an attendant on hand cleaning the restroom. There’s a huge restroom and there’s hand sanitizer everywhere. For those of you who have experienced it, you know what I’m talking about. For those of you who haven’t, it’s actually pretty cool. There are one or two people who are just on call all the time, they have huge checklists on how to keep the restroom clean, someone’s always there to make sure that it’s an amazing experience in the restroom.

Now restrooms in the past were probably something no one would invest any money in, kind of a second thought. You’d invest in other things first. But it makes a huge difference in Buc-ee’s marketing, people know them for that. It’s also changing the industry, at least in Houston, because other people now are forced to step up to have better restrooms because of what Buc-ee’s did. It’s an inspirational story about taking the ordinary, taking something simple, and making it extraordinary. About taking a difference that people would not have thought about and creating something that is hard for others to match. That’s what they are known for.

So, if you’re a small business owner or a sales professional working for a small business, what makes you different? What sets your company apart? A few people that we’ve done business consulting with in the small business community truly have a unique product or service, and the question is easy for them. Maybe they’re in a small town and they serve Ethiopian food when no one else around does. That makes it an easy differentiator. Or maybe we’re doing business coaching with a company that has a unique technology. A technology that no one else has, a technology that they created especially for a specific niche and totally makes them different. If that’s your situation, figuring out what sets you apart becomes easy.

Yet the reality is most small businesses don’t have anything that’s particularly different. Maybe you’re in an industry like insurance where there are a lot of different insurance agents out there, or financial planning. Perhaps you do something else that is very common and you have to figure out a way to make yourself truly different. This is key and foundational to your marketing plan. What makes you different? And then oftentimes what comes from that is what you can guarantee. What’s your brand promise? When you think about what makes you different, what can you guarantee to the marketplace? When the coaches at EntreResults ask what makes you different, it’s a tough question for a lot of people. Many people don’t have an answer.

That said, I keep hearing a lot of things. One thing I always hear is “our customer service is different; it makes us different than the competition”. And yes, you can market customer service as being a unique differentiator but to be honest with you, it’s really not that different than what other people are marketing. A lot of times when people say “our customer service is different”, they perceive their customer service as tremendously different than the competition’s but the reality is that oftentimes it’s not. Or, customer service may be too broad of a term. What part of customer service? What specific element of customer service makes you so unique and different? What makes you stand out in a crowd? Oftentimes, people will say “we care, our competition doesn’t care”. Well, that can make you different as well but a lot of people in small business care so that doesn’t necessarily truly make you different.

Sometimes people say, especially if they’re self-employed, “Well I make the difference. I am the difference in why people do business with me if I’m self-employed.” Well, that’s true also, but what about you makes you different than the competition? What about you stands out above the rest? I remember when I was a child, going to the doctor. Aside from not feeling well, it was a horrible experience. Generally speaking, the history I have in working with medical doctors is that their offices are not run well. Now I have many clients who have changed that perception and do a wonderful job, but oftentimes you go and you just wait forever it feels like. It’s just horrible customer service. So imagine, if you have that perception in your mind of a doctor’s office of just waiting and waiting and waiting, and not having any good customer service while you’re waiting, not having communication and just sitting there waiting. Imagine if a doctor’s office guaranteed that you will wait less than fifteen minutes to see an actual doctor. What if that was what made them different? What if they said they’re different in that you won’t have to have a horrible customer service experience and won’t wait crazy amounts of time to see a doctor? To me that makes you different and you can market that. That’s an example.

There are some industries where they’re known to not call you back. And I know for some people this is simple but what if you say “What makes us different is we’ll call you back”? Or “We’ll call you back within an hour”? That could make you very different depending on the industry that you’re in. It doesn’t necessarily have to be some amazing differentiator, but think about your industry. Where are you weak and what are you good at? What are you better at than others and how can you hone in on that difference? So what I want you to do as an exercise is write down all the things that make you different. Think about it. Brainstorm. What are the things that could potentially make you different?

Eventually, what you want to do is break it down into your top three. Now something else to think about is simply going and asking people that you work with currently. You can ask your clients, vendors, and customers what they think makes you different. Oftentimes, you can get these ideas from communicating with your clients. Do some surveys and think everything through. Once you get to your three differentiators, maybe hone in on that one thing you’re going to guarantee or that one thing that you’re really going to drive to the market over and over and over again? It could be your brand promise or your brand guarantee.

Once you figure that out, it becomes part of your marketing message or marketing material. Every time you speak to someone it might be part of your tagline. It might be part of what you say when you speak to groups, or maybe it’s on your website. In any case, it’s a part of your entire marketing communication. This is part of strategy when we talk about business. This is something if you’ve been in business for a while you might want to look at. Or certainly if you’re new at it, this is a thing you can go to and create that’s going to get you much traction early on in your business. So I encourage you all to take action on figuring out, discovering, articulating, and writing down what makes you different, then make it become a part of your marketing message. Until next time, go out, take action, and have a better than amazing day!