The New Age of Differentiation
In 2020 and beyond, I like to think that excellence has become, or is becoming, the norm. No serious business enters the arena these days planning to compete on only price, or only speed, or only quality. With same day fulfilment, six sigma processes, worldwide marketplaces, the days of seeking to differentiate yourself by any single one of these are long gone. These are no longer distinctive characteristics, they are simply meeting expectations. The same applies to caring about customers, or being authentic: it’s important, but it ain’t distinctive (and certainly not a USP).
None of these is a meaningful differentiating factor, not anymore.
True, meaningful differentiation comes from 2 areas: your values (what you stand for), or/and your assets (what’s in your battle box), and it manifests in terms of what you create for your customers.
For us at The Boardroom, with our combination of values (wanting to shake things up, focusing on outcomes not process, working with ambitious businesses) and assets (our brand, our people, our members) we’re a challenger brand. Without getting too carried away with our own hype, we think of ourselves as rebels in the consulting industry. You can see these values in everything we create – from the handwritten scribble of our logo, to the tone of voice in our blog posts – and everything we do – like the way we bring like-minded challenger businesses together in our innovative peer groups, or the way we break convention by running joint networking events with our competitors (shock horror!).
All of which will make some people think: “I really don’t like these guys, they’re not part of my club” but we’ve found it’s also that gentle rebelliousness that is exactly what makes other people attracted to us.
There’s bravery in real branding: if you know your audience well enough, you don’t mind that some people are out of scope, because others will be pulled in with bigger force. If the stuff you create carries the same message, they’ll recognise fairly easily that you’re the one they want to work with.
As for ‘what to create that will have a memorable impact on your audience in the new era’, I see five strategies to leverage:
Big or small, these are also the areas you can look for innovation in your industry. To learn about them in more detail and to understand how you can apply them to your business, download the guide I wrote (it’s short, to the point, and conveniently named “The New Age of Differentiation”)…
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