Have you ever thought how much space your business occupies in the minds of clients or customers?
Why is this a crucial question?
The more space you occupy, the more recognisable your brand is to your clients or customers, and the more your brand is differentiated from competitors leading to better client engagement.
If you are from an industry such as a law firm or accountancy or similar, you may be starting to think, "this article isn't for me; it's about branding and marketing". However, before you continue browsing, answer this question. Why do my clients come to my law firm or my accounting practice and not my competitors?
You may think of responses such as:
Your professionalism, reputation, the cost structure you use, and the other responses you may have thought of are all part of your brand and how customers or clients perceive you and your company.
Larger for-profit organisations recognise the importance of branding and that branding encompasses much more than logo and brand colours. Branding is about how you position your organisation in the minds of your clients. Or to ask the question we started with, branding is about how much space you occupy in the minds of your clients. Your logo and brand colours are only a very, very small part of how you position yourself within your clients' minds.
How do we occupy the minds of our clients?
The first step is so apparent; it is often overlooked. To occupy the minds of our clients, we have to know our clients. Many businesses in the B2B and B2C sectors only have a vague, fuzzy idea of their client. They think and speak of the client as a generalised group rather than the specific individual they target. We have written in previous articles on the importance of placing clients front and central in our thinking.
Clarity about who our clients are, their likes, dislikes, and the things they are most likely to search online is crucial if we are to position our brand to be recognisable to our clients and be differentiated from our competitors.
The ability to stand out from our competitors is the other equally important arm of positioning. To occupy and stand out, these two things allow us to drive engagement from clients, service delivery to clients and ultimately profitability.
How do we do this?
To position ourselves effectively, we need to consider a further three "P's."
Often, we jump straight to points of difference. What differentiates us from our competitors, what are our stand-out qualities? However, understanding our points of difference can only be built on a solid understanding of the points of parity we have with other businesses in the same area and the points where we are prepared to compromise to achieve the point of difference.
If we do not fully understand points of parity and points of compromise, then the risk is we develop weak points of difference. Weak points of difference are where we talk about the quality of our product or service or the customer experience our employees provide. They are weak points of difference because clients expect a quality product or services; they expect a good customer/client experience. These are not points of difference. They are the basics of good customer service. By using weak points of differences, we are demonstrating that we have not done the hard work of really getting to know our clients.
Constructing a solid point of difference or competitive advantage requires knowing the benefits of what you provide, what your client or customer needs and your competitor's strengths and weaknesses. In other words, to understand your point of difference, you have to know your points of parity first, the areas where you are the same as your competitors or other businesses.
In the following article, we will develop further how to be clear about your points of parity and the points where you may choose to compromise. However, before we consider these two factors, are you clear about the benefits of what you provide?
Can you answer the following?
We deliver ……….benefits to clients?
We solve ………….problems for clients?
We sell to…………?
Answering questions like these help focus our attention on the benefits we provide, which will assist when we look at our points of parity and help us decide on what issues we are not prepared to compromise in our service delivery to clients.