Today’s highly competitive industries require clear and definitive differentiation more than ever. In a recent study by Hinge Research Institute among 4900 buyers and sellers of B2B and professional services, dealing with a highly competitive marketplace has become an ever-increasing challenge for their business.
In my last blog I discussed why a company’s differentiation strategy is crucial to growth and success, and the various ways a business might differentiate itself. The focus of this blog is on how to execute such a strategy. Should you come to the realization that your business is not a market leader on some level, it is time to achieve a genuinely advantageous differentiation strategy.
Like so many other areas of strategy development, differentiation execution is an intentional and rational thought process that focuses on the critical factors and variables that will influence the long-term success of the business. Establishing, updating, or refining an effective differentiation strategy requires a deep grasp of the business.
Understand today. Identify those specific aspects of the business today that you feel you are competing on such as price, quality, customer service, product options, etc. Talk to customers to find out how they perceive your business and how they rate you in these areas. Research helps to align the offerings of the business with the preferences and desires of potential clients. It also indicates issues that need to be addressed to make the company more appealing to customers.
See the hard truth. With a spotlight on a handful of competitors, identify where you are stronger and weaker. In what areas is there a clear differentiation between you and your competitors? It may become apparent that you are not really that different. What are the opportunities to be a leader in one or more aspects of the business?
Envision the future. Without any preconceived notions, envision where you would like the business to be. Make a wish list of how you want to compete, e.g., having the widest selection of product options. Where are the greatest opportunities to be a market leader? Where do you want to meet your competition and where do you want to outshine them?
Identify critical issues and develop action plans. Specify those things that need to change to set the business down a path of true differentiation. Develop action plans to reach a differentiation strategy that encompasses training, product development, investment, etc. Assign roles and responsibilities with clear deadlines. Conduct gate meetings to facilitate the process and keep it on track.
Execute your plans. Implement your strategy and shore up all the areas that will allow you to differentiate the business. Find as many ways to highlight what makes the business different from competitors, e.g., sales, marketing, customer service, product quality, etc. Leverage your story, your values, and how you stand out from competitors, and your messaging will be more effective at turning prospects into customers.
Forging a brand differentiation strategy might seem daunting. By putting time and research into understanding not only your competitors, but your own distinct brand will put you on your way to clear and strong differentiation. A well-thought-out differentiation strategy and a commitment to implementing the plan will accelerate the firm’s visibility and perceived expertise, and contribute to long-term growth.
Are you looking to undertake a deep dive into your differentiation strategy? Noesis Marketing can help.