Go Big, Be Unique, Be Yourself
Parity in Sports
In sports, when the talent of all the teams in a league is roughly equal, the level of competition is good and the odds of defeating your opponent in any given game or match are roughly even or not easily predicted. For many people in sports, this is a good thing.
Parity in Marketing
In marketing, if everyone has (roughly) the same access to technology (apps, social media, etc.) and audience (through the Internet), it means that anyone, regardless of company size, has a chance of getting in front of their target audience.
Is Parity in Marketing Bad?
Not necessarily. At a basic level, it can be a baseline for consideration of your products and services. Here’s an example: If a prospect is looking for software that provides a particular calculation, then any software that provides this capability may qualify for consideration. In this situation, parity is good – you meet the baseline criteria.
If the prospect needs the results displayed in ways other than text or numbers, then conveying results graphically becomes a ‘requirement’ for this particular buyer. Now, only software that can calculate and display the results graphically is considered.
But… Parity Isn’t Always Good
After making it through the basic consideration stages based on a prospect’s requirements and your ability to meet them, it’s time to differentiate your company from the others that qualify on basic requirements.
Too often companies choose meaningless, bland, generic statements such as “Great customer service” in an attempt to separate themselves from their competitors. Buyers are too sophisticated to fall for this. Do companies without great customer service survive or brag about it convincingly? I don’t think so.
One of These Things (is not like the other)
© Sesame Workshop (formerly known as the Children’s Television Workshop, or CTW
To differentiate your company from the rest, you need to answer the question “What do you do, or offer, that’s unique?” Do you offer free training or installation? If everyone else in your industry does too, then move on to your next attribute. What do you offer that nobody else in your industry offers? Are you quantifiably faster? Can you prove a better ROI? Is your technology or process patented or proprietary?
There’s a balance to being similar yet different. Where you position yourself depends on where you currently are in your industry.
- Are you the newcomer or industry leader?
- Are you priced higher or lower than the competition?
- Have you won an award or received accolades?
- Are you a subject matter expert?
- Do you have social proof in the form of testimonials or reviews?
Use Your Uniqueness
Use your uniqueness to distinguish yourself. In fact, identifying what is uniquely you is much like writing copy for your website or LinkedIn profile page. Consider what you do best. What makes what you do different? How do you make your clients’ lives easier? Give specific examples about your accomplishments – who you help and how you help them.
It used to be that you had to have a big platform, or a lot of money before a lot of other people knew who you were and what you could do. That’s no longer true (although money and a large platform helps). This is a process, not an end point. Concentrate on your uniqueness, document your accomplishments, and tell your story in places that reach your intended audience.
Some people have trouble defining what makes them different. If you draw a blank after pondering it for a few hours, brainstorm with a client. Those who know you best, including your customers, can help identify your best attributes, skills and knowledge.
Miracle on The Hudson
Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger brought a passenger jet into the Hudson River in 2009 with no injuries or loss of life. He was listed in Time Magazine’s “Top 100 Most Influential Heroes and Icons of 2009” not just because he landed the plane but because of his personality. He doesn’t brag but he is confident in his abilities — he makes you feel confident in him. You want Sully flying your plane.
Most of us don’t have that big event (and successful conclusion) to help us launch awareness of ourselves. Instead, we have to sit down and think about what we offer that is different and what might be valuable to others.
Making a Difference
George Washington had the Revolutionary War. The Beatles had Ed Sullivan. Gloria Steinham founded Ms. Magazine at the right time to promote her brand of feminism. Muhammad Ali was a great boxer who took a stand against the draft during the Vietnam War and built that into a voice for the oppressed.
All of these people had big personalities and ideas at pivotal times in history. All had unlimited access to the media of the time. And all very carefully honed the way they were viewed.
Now each of us has the opportunity to define ourselves – and our business success depends on it.
So you didn’t save hundreds of people by coolly gliding a jet onto the surface of the Hudson. But you do have accomplishments and you have many venues to tell others about them.
Go Big, Be Unique, Be Yourself
We all have an equal opportunity, on a level playing field, to tell our story better, faster and more effectively than the competition.
We all know people in careers who have positioned themselves successfully.
- The lawyer who always gets the highest payout
- The athletic coach who wins despite the odds
When you are in need of a specialist, do you choose the one who is the cheapest or the one who shows she has a 95 percent success rate? That’s the story you need to begin telling today.
Are you using parity or differentiation as marketing techniques? Let us know how in the Comments section below. A real person reads and responds to all comments.
Want help identifying and sharing your unique message with the world? Contact Crest for a free 30-minute consultation.
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At Crest, we help companies:
- Create content that separates them from their competition
- Become subject matter experts in their field
- Measure the effectiveness of their marketing $$
- Generate a consistent pipeline of high-quality leads for less
- Turn clients into evangelists