How do you differentiate your company from your competition?  That was the question posed by David Avrin, The Visibility Coach, to my private advisory board of CEOs.  His presentation “It’s Not Who You Know, It’s Who Knows You”, emphasized creating a message that sets us apart from our competitors, otherwise we are just another choice.

You don’t own your brand.  Whatever people think of you…that is your brand.  Who do you think of when asked, “What is the safest car on the road?”  You probably thought Volvo.  Are they really safer than an Acura or Lexus or Mercedes?  Who owns customer service in the retail market?  Nordstrom.  How do you become this well known in your category?

How do we influence how people think of us in the marketplace?  It is no longer compelling to say things like: we provide excellent customer service; we offer quality products; our customers come first; or we provide on-time delivery.  Every one of our competitors can claim the same benefits and do.  What sets you apart?

David challenged us to find a category we can own, not own the market share but own its mind share, the company people think of when they need our product or service.  An example he gave was Prego and Ragu in the spaghetti sauce market.  Ragu owned the space.  Prego ran a television ad comparing their product with Ragu.  They stuck a knife in each open jar.  The knife stayed straight up in theirs while it fell to the side in the Ragu jar.  Prego claimed they were the #1 thick spaghetti sauce even though they only owned 9% market share.  What can you claim?

Did you pioneer a technology or way of doing something?  Do you have a specialization?  Were you the fastest to get to…?  Do you have more locations than your competitors?  Have you been in business the longest?  Do you have patented products?  Create your own category where you can be #1.

An exercise he suggested was to take all of your marketing material and lay it side by side with all of your competitors marketing material.  Compare your claims with their claims.  You will be amazed at how similar your messages are to one another.  Now brainstorm with your leadership team how to set yourselves apart from your competition.

Other suggestions David had for standing out is to record video testimonials from your customers and post them on your website.  Write articles for your industry’s trade publications.  You will be perceived as an expert.  Even write a book.

So take a look at your messaging.  Is it compelling or the same trite claims as everyone else in your category?  Find a category where you can own the mind share and the market share will come.

Consider Reading This

It’s Not Who You Know — It’s Who Knows You!: The Small Business Guide to Raising Your Profits by Raising Your Profile by David Avrin.  An easy and informative read which exposes the humor David exhibits in his personal presentations.  Learn how to create more brand awareness for your company.