A thoroughly developed marketing strategy will get you to the point where you are able to select the most efficient channels to target the most profitable prospects for your business at their maximum impact points in the buyer’s journey. However, your business will likely be using many of the same channels as your competitors. In order to maximize your ROI, it’s crucial that you stand out from the competition.
Providing superior products and services may seem like the obvious way to get a leg up on competitors, but the fact that your company is better isn’t always as obvious to prospects as you would think. It’s just as important to be different and memorable. In order to stand out, highlight your company’s differentiators — the things that make it different than competing businesses. Start by shining a light on your company’s USPs. Here’s a refresher on USP identification.
Develop Your Brand
One definition of a brand is a company’s promise to the customer based on its unique selling propositions. Many people mistakenly think that branding refers to a company’s logo and colors, but that’s just part of the imagery and identity that is a small piece of the much bigger branding pie. USPs and branding are intertwined because USPs drive the various components of the brand, and the brand strategy provides differentiation in the marketplace.
A brand is built around the brand promise, which is a statement made to customers that identifies what they can expect when they interact with the various components of a company. The components of the brand strategy are as follows:
- Brand Identity – The graphic presentation of the brand, which includes logos, colors, themes, clothing, etc.
- Brand Personality – The value-connecting emotion of the brand and the way it’s interpreted
- Brand Messaging – The language and tone of the brand
- Brand Implementation – The best practices and standards to ensure a consistent brand presentation
The goal of the brand strategy is to ensure the brand displays or facilitates:
- Differentiating Values
- Value Relevance
- Creation of Emotional Connections
Does your brand set your business apart from the competition? To answer that question, some self-discovery is necessary. The first step is to ask, “Is our current brand in alignment with the USPs with we’ve developed?” If the answer is yes, then maybe some small tweaks are all that are needed in order to modernize the brand. If the answer is no, work needs to be done to make sure the brand and USPs are in sync. This can be done internally or with the assistance of a marketing agency.
The second question to ask is, “How does our brand look compared to the competition?” At this point, you have to view your company from the customer’s point of view, not your own. Eliminating personal bias is necessary in order to get the most accurate company snapshot. Today, it’s a digital world. The vast majority of customers will turn to the internet first to learn about businesses. With that in mind, it’s a good practice to go through your own website and the sites of your competitors. What are the customers going to find? What do the sites look like? What kind of information is available? This is not to say that whichever company has the best website will be an industry leader by default, but it certainly helps.
“Stand Out from the Competition” Scorecard
A good way to ensure that you are collecting consistent data about your company and competitors is to use an existing scorecard or develop one of your own. With a standardized scorecard, you can grade your online presence and the presence of your biggest competitors (three is a good number) so you know where you stand. The scorecard will help you identify strengths and weaknesses and make necessary improvements so you can better position yourself in the marketplace. The scorecard should cover a variety of topics. Here are some of the most important:
- Site Goals
- Does the design, content and images make the site goal apparent?
- Value Propositions & Unique Selling Propositions
- Are the companies’ value propositions obvious?
- Are the companies’ USPs easily identified?
- Fresh, Quality Content
- Does the site have a blog that’s being updated weekly?
- Are the blog posts being written with short paragraphs, section headers or lists?
- Is the site content valuable to visitors?
- Is certain content available for offline viewing, like PDF downloads?
- Obvious Call to Action
- Does the site’s homepage have a call to action that lives above the fold?
- Is the call to action paired with a valuable offer?
- Does the site incentivize visitors for providing an email address?
- Does the site offer the ability to sign up for email marketing?
- Is there a call to action on each page of the site?
Want to cut to the chase and start grading your site against your competitors? We can help. Click here to request a Stand Out from the Competition Scorecard.
What Does Success Look Like?
Alright, if you’ve been following along and using the information we’ve presented to build and strengthen your strategy, you’re probably ready to hit the marketplace. But don’t get too far ahead of yourself. When marketing, it’s important to set goals, identify key performance indicators (KPIs) and put mechanisms in place to measure KPIs BEFORE you launch campaigns. By doing those things, you’ll be able to not only identify whether or not your campaigns were successful but also pinpoint exactly what aspects made the difference. Check back for our next post to get the details…