If you want something to last forever treat it differently

So often when we talk about points of difference in business, we default to thinking about our product, or its price. We know if we can just make people pay attention to everything we want to say about to the new features, and the detail and the spec sheet and the options and...hey, where you going?

Successful businesses will be those who “treat different people differently.
— Seth Godin

I hazard a guess that when Seth says differently, he means better. More personalised. More responsive to their needs. More about them. You know, different.

It’s not necessarily an easy thing to do. A good experiential point of difference has to be relevant to your customer and compelling enough to get them to change their behaviour – yet not easy for your competitors to match. But it's worth the effort. There is proof that brands with meaningful points of difference are more likely to be chosen repeatedly by consumers, and tend to be more successful.

It’s a matter of finding those things that speak both to how well you understand your customers, and makes you worthy of their consideration.

It might be something that’s organically you - insights applied from proprietary software, a great loyalty program. Alternatively it may be something that’s borrowed from another industry that is surprising and inventive when applied to yours.


The brand building process

To identify truly useful points of difference, our tools of the trade include a stack of butchers paper and an open mind. We start by examining:

  • The target markets – who specifically are we talking to?
  • Customer insights – what do each set of customers think about their situation, and what needs do they want solved?
  • Brand insights – how does the brand answer the customer’s challenges?
  • What are competitors doing? Where is the clear water for the brand to own?
  • Positioning – what’s the overall message that the marketing needs to send?
  • Proof points – what are the points of difference which back up the positioning that’s been established? What else could the brand offer which answers each set of customer needs?
  • Action and systems - what needs to put into place to make this happen?


What does this look like in practice?

Here’s what it doesn’t look like.

And really, they were so close. The ad is right in that consumers don’t appreciate setting aside most of a day waiting expectantly for a tradie or courier to arrive. But the promise of a 2 hour window? Pretty much a standard offer from a lot of service-based companies these days. Imagine this ad again with an agreed time of arrival? Now that’s different.


Here's a couple of gems that do see it differently.

The 5 C’s of diamond buying: carat, colour, cut, clarity - and comfort?

The Diamond Guys. A brand that have got their target market down pat. They speak the language of the average bloke, who wants to make their missus their Mrs. Flipping engagement ring buying on its head, they have aimed the experience firmly at the male, with offers of a cold beer, comfy chair and even some footy talk. From their convenient location, online sales and promise of diamonds direct from the supplier their brand is positioned to take away the intimidation while maintaining a little of the romance and mystery.


People treat you differently when you lose weight

rapha downsize

The only downside of downsizing your weight, is a wardrobe of clothes that no longer fit. This is particularly painful when you’ve shelled out the big bucks for some of cycling’s finest apparel. With their Jersey Downsize offer, Rapha offers an exchange of up to 3 jerseys for a smaller size with a 50% discount. Now you’re got no reason not to push a little harder on those hills, and you know you’ll always look good doing it.


Nerissa Atkinson is co-director of The Revery, a marketing consultancy for growing businesses wanting to remain lean. Curious about everything, her personal ethos is to have nothing in her house that is not useful or beautiful. With two small children life is weighted towards the first, but she spends plenty of time on Pinterest and other social media platforms planning for the future.

Image via Flickr CC/ Pistolwhipt