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Six steps to a truly special business

Standing outEveryone knows that to be a successful business, customers need a reason to choose you over your competitors. You might call it your USP, your brand promise, your differentiation, whatever. It’s those differences that make you the best choice, for them. It’s what makes your business special.

But how differentiated are you really? And how could you make that much clearer, much stronger and much more compelling? Here’s a ten minute test that might just open your eyes:

Step 1: Your message. Imagine someone asked you to give them your card and to write on the back, in two or three sentences, why they should choose to do business with you. What makes your business so special? Write it down then put it to one side.

Step 2: Your competitors. Take a sheet of A4, divide it into quarters, and in each quarter, write the name of one of your biggest competitors.

Step 3: Their message. For each of the four competitors, visit their website or check their marketing materials, and write, based on what you read, what you think they would put on their business card if asked. Use only what they say, not what you happen to know about them.

Step 4: Your difference. Now compare your card with theirs. How much of what you wrote is genuinely different from the things they’re saying in their marketing? 75%? 50%? Less?

Step 5: You’re special. Re-write your card to really emphasise what it is that makes you genuinely different, genuinely special. What could you say that they can’t, and that customers would really want to see?

Step 6: The acid test. Now look at your own website and marketing materials. How well do they convey what you’ve just written? How clear is it to the reader on first glance that you really are as special as you think you are?

Bottom Line:  Being seen as “the best” in any market brings advantages. It means you’re more likely to attract the most loyal customers, the most enthusiastic staff, even the most favourable commercial terms. Every business has the potential to be special, but if you can’t articulate, simply and clearly, why you’re unique, how can you possibly expect potential customers to choose you because of it?

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