Stand Out from Your Competition

What is the best way to stand out from your competition? What can you do to add value and be more attractive versus lowering your price? Take time to look at the not so obvious aspects of your business that have a big impact on attracting customers to you.

This is a synopsis from an episode of the Thrive!cast series of panel discussions hosted by Conscious Branding. Each episode focuses on a new topic and brings in experts to discuss, explore, answer questions and inspire action. For more information, go to thrive.consciousbranding.com/courses/thrivecast-for-small-business-series/.

The Thrive!cast episode, “Stand Out from Your Competition,” was moderated by Alan Wallner, President and Visionary, Conscious Branding. Panelists were Dave Priddy, President/Founder, DK Sales Consulting LLC; Scott Plum, Professor, Minnesota Sales Institute; and Ben Theis, Owner Skol Marketing.

Alan Wallner

Alan Wallner

Dave Priddy

Scott Plum

Ben Theis

Leverage the Four Ps

“With our businesses, it seems as though we feel we don’t have differentiation from our competition, we’re always seeking it,” said Alan Wallner. “Typically, when we’re looking to differentiate, the four Ps of marketing: product, price, place, and promotion, come to mind and they’re the first place businesses go to differentiate or stand out from their competition.”

“All four Ps are important. That’s why we call them the four Ps of marketing,” said Ben Theis. “I think it’s important to try to begin to apply all of them. I think there’s another strategy that Alan alluded to, that there’s a short term and a long term. The two that we focus on with our clients is place and promotion because, beyond price and beyond product, you need to have a good product. It really comes down to value. And we all have seen potentially where there’s an inferior product, that’s promoted more, but because of where they’ve placed it and where they promoted it, it gets more sales.

“…Another one of the pieces is perception, reality, but that’s only going to get you so far. It’s great to start with place and promotion because perception is going to be reality, but you obviously need to have a good product or service long term.”

“I read the book, ‘The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing,’” said Scott Plum, “and they use the example of everybody knows who the first person to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. And we all know it was Charles Lindbergh, but who was second? Well, Bert Hinkle was second and he actually flew straighter. He flew faster, more efficient, but Charles Lindbergh is popular, maybe another P is popularity or position. Envision yourself in the marketplace. But like Ben said earlier is that people buy on value. They don’t necessarily buy on price. The cheapest price sometimes can cost more and it can create some limitations at the same time.

“If you’re competing on price, you’re really racing to the bottom. And you look at the companies that have competed on price and they don’t last long. . . . Companies that compete on price seem to have a very, very tight margin. And they end up sacrificing a lot of service and not offering the best value. So people want to buy on value, not necessarily price.”

“When it comes to the product, it’s also identifying what’s the problem,” said Dave Priddy. “What are you solving with your product? Whether it be an item or whether what a lot of us are doing, services. It’s identifying what’s the issue that they need to get handled? And how does that lead to the value? And a lot of times, you can’t lower your price too much.

“…So it’s bringing out that you need to set the price that is appropriate, but that I’d understand that value. Now you need to make sure that you’re meeting that value. . . . So it’s identifying what it is that you’re really going to provide for them and making sure it matches up with what that need.”

Other Business Aspects to Leverage – Beyond the Four Ps

“My first reaction is people,” said Scott. “So salespeople make a big difference in it. And something to keep in mind is that people hate to be sold, but people love to buy. And if you think about an experience that you had purchasing something and you really enjoyed the experience, most likely there was a person involved. And I know that that’s starting to minimize and technology is starting to replace that and we can go and do a one click on Amazon and we can have something show up at our doorstep sometimes the same day or the next day. And that becomes really easy for us to, to make a purchase. But when we get into more complicated products or services, most likely there is a person involved and they’re working with you as a customer or a prospect to solve a problem, to reach a goal and to be able to create a very pleasant experience.”

“’People’” was something that I had written down also,” said Dave, “but that leads right into relationships; making sure you create a relationship and it’s a symbiotic relationship. And it’s a lot of times the focus. I think a lot of people know that it’s important to have relationships, you have relationships with them, with the person who’s making the decision, the person who’s hiring you, but it’s even with all of the stakeholders. And in sales and in sales training, I need to make sure that I create a strong relationship with the sales reps or with the team, it’s the sales leaders that I’m going to be working with and helping them get better at, but also up the chain to make sure, because a lot of times the people who own the VP of Sales or the COO or the person who’s up at the top of the food chain, they know what they want, but they may have not been in those shoes for a long time.”

“You also know your product so well that you’re up here above everyone else and your knowledge and the way you think about it and the way you talk about it,” said Alan, “but the general person that’s coming to you for business, they’re down here. So you need to lower your vocabulary. You don’t want to talk down to people. So point out how were you when you first started learning about this and take a look at some of your first-time customers, go back and remember how they were learning about you. Because you don’t want to talk over their heads which might make people feel like they’re inferior.”

“You were breaking it down to not talk down to your clients or customers, but also being able to help them educate themselves so they can make an educated decision,” said Ben, “being a resource for your clients, being a resource for your customers, being a resource for a prospect.”

“There’s another ‘p’ word, personalization,” added Alan. “I think that could be a differentiator as well. That allows you to leverage some technology to help you make it easier, where you can connect with an individual. Really listening and actually responding with an answer to this particular type of question. And even through regular communications, like sending birthday cards or a bottle of champagne on an anniversary.”

Refocusing on Your Target Audience

“The term that comes to mind, something that I’ve heard in some coaching that I received as a coaching trainer was who’s your customer avatar?” said Dave. “Really identifying what is the ideal person for you to work with. And what’s their age range, what’s their gender, does that make a difference? Where are they located? What’s the industry? And when I first started out, I could coach anybody. But that makes it very difficult for me to identify where to do my marketing, but also for someone to refer to me. If you’re asking for everybody, you get nothing.”

“We can definitely do so much more with personalizing it, being authentic and really talking to that person,” said Ben. “And I always talk to our clients about this. It’s the ‘coulds’; we get clients who say, well I could market to this person or I could market to this person, you’re going to start to spread yourself too thin and you really need to be focused. And I think a lot of us have heard that, but I just think it’s so important. And it’s the reason it’s mentioned so many times is because if you do take your eye off the ball, it’s a ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’ type of thing.”

“Sometimes salespeople offer stuff for free that they want to use to start a relationship,” said Scott, “and the challenge sometimes when they offer something for free, if it’s a competitive marketplace and they don’t compete well with a particular item, they end up losing money because we’re offering something for free that doesn’t get the business. . . . But once you have that relationship established, then you offer those clients the free services that ended up saving them money. You get the relationship and you get the loyalty. So salespeople offering something for free that doesn’t have an increased chance of turning into a sale, ends up costing the salesperson and the salesperson’s company money, which is defeating the whole purpose.

“So we need to find out what we’re offering, what motivated somebody to call us. And that is really going to tell us the pure audiences, I think everybody’s searching for a pure audience to sell to. And I think a great question to always ask is: what made you decide to call us today? What happened before you picked up the phone and called us? That’s the motivation, that’s the problem that we solve and why didn’t you wait? Or why didn’t you wait until next month to call us; what happened to create this urgency? And then what’s going to cause people to take action. So it’s really a combination of what are you offering for free. And then how are you closing somebody to the next step? Not necessarily the sale, but the next step after you have a conversation with them.”

It’s a Bold New World!

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