Ed Stapleton Jr runs a limousine company and a website called LimoProfits.com. He wrote a recent blog post that really makes the point if you are not clearly communicating the value you provide you are being commoditized:
When we go to the grocery store and there is nothing to differentiate one onion from another onion, the ONLY thing that we can differentiate it with is PRICE.
Because it’s a commodity.
Price then becomes the only deciding factor. Competitors who are less astute will try to sell only on price, so they will try to beat you down and beat your competitors down by simply pooh-poohing anything they do that is different because they are trying to compete on price.
That’s also true for the marketplace, if you are NOT giving them criteria for what makes you different, what makes you special, what makes you premium. Then the only thing they can come back to
is price, turning you back into a commodity.
You MUST create the buying criteria for what sets you apart from anyone else. It is pretty powerful to develop this mindset of everyone is trying to make you into an ordinary commodity and
your job is to make sure that you stand out as extraordinary.
Music to my ears! And a very clear way of explaining why your job with your business is to communicate why customers should choose you, and that actually has less to do with what you sell (your products and services) than you might think!
So why did I start by saying What You Sell is NOT Your Business?
Let me explain with an example. If your business offers carpet cleaning services, you may think of yourself as a carpet cleaner.
Right? Wrong! If you think you have a carpet cleaning business, and worse when people ask you what you do you respond with “We have a carpet cleaning business”, you are immediately categorized and lumped into the same group as every other carpet cleaning business.
As Ed said in his post, “Then the only thing they can come back to is price, turning you back into a commodity”.
Ok so you clean carpets, but what else do you offer? What differentiates you or sets you apart?
- Is everyone on your team professional at what they do?
- Do you put your customers at ease?
- Is there a high trust factor?
- Do you have years of experience with chemical and cleaning knowledge?
- Do you guarantee your work?
- Have you been a trusted business in the community for years?
- Do you offer other services for the home (assuming residential cleaning)?
- Do you make it easier for your customers to care for their home?
- Do you save them time, effort and protect their assets?
- Are you dependable?
If you said yes to even a few of the above points you are doing a disservice by calling yourself a carpet cleaning company.
You may be a Healthy Home Specialist, or The Trusted Cleaning Authority.
If someone asked you what you do, and you responded our company is your Healthy Home Specialist, they will be curious and interested in finding out more about what you do.
If you responded we have a carpet cleaning company, they stop listening and in their mind you are in the same grouping as someone else including companies who are low balling or worse, doing a bait and switch.
This is true today regardless of what business you are in.
For example if you own a pharmacy, and you think that your business is selling medications – you are being commoditized.
Worse the chains play the game of creating a perception of the lowest price. The interesting thing in pharmacy is if your insurance is paying for your prescription then your co-pay is the same regardless of where you go.
So in a pharmacy, if your business is not selling medication what is it?
How about being a trusted resource for your patients? Quick, dependable service? Where your whole health and wellness is considered? Where people know your name?
A number of pharmacies offer great programs to help people live well with diabetes, heart issues, or even lose weight – dispensing medications is just one of ways they are creating value for their customers.
What you sell is just one of the vehicles in your business – one of the ways that you create value.
The challenge is that we are so used to thinking that our business is what we sell – car dealership, clothing store, roofing, home renovations, dentist – that we tend to overlook or take for granted all the ways we create value for our customers.
Where to start?
- Make a list of all the ways you create value for your customers.
- Include your team in this discussion – especially if they are working directly with customers in their role.
- Listen to what your customers say to you – what do they appreciate?
- Ask your customers what they value most, why did they choose your company?
- Test out describing your company based on the two or three key ways you create value and fine-tune based on responses.
And then practice, both with your team and in your marketplace. To quote Ed Stapleton Jr “You MUST create the buying criteria for what sets you apart from anyone else”