Tag Archive for Core Differentiator

They Buy Your Story

I had always appreciated art, but never collected it.  Then I went to Las Vegas with a friend and we stopped into an art gallery to appreciate some art  without any intention of making a purchase.

We were both attracted to a lithograph that had additional gold leafing and work done to the piece by the artist, it was a real beauty.  A sales person came over and asked if we were familiar with the artist.  “No, no”, we replied (uh oh, a sales person is going to try to pressure us!).  So, she stood there and told us his name, his geography and why he was one of her favorite painters.  All of his paintings told a story through the sybolism of various objects in the picture.  She had met with him many times and had heard his story for each of the paintings they sold, first hand.  She gave us a couple examples for the painting we were looking at, which were, well, rather intriguing to my friend and me.

Next, she said, if we would like, she would take the painting into a room where we could see it better and not be interrupted (as had happened a couple times during her story telling), if we would like.  We were on vacation, we thought.  No where to be and we were learning something new.  Sure.  Which room?

We met her in a room that had black walls and was very dark where she placed the painting under a light that brought out all the colors and brilliance, the beautiful art filling the room.  She started at the top and described what each of the symbols meant in the picture and how collectively they told a story that had religious messages, good vs. evil, and current cultural mores conveyed through various objects and techniques.  We were spellbound and related completely to the message the artist was sharing (now that we knew what it was).

She left the room and brought in another of his paintings we had been admiring and told this painting’s story.   Once again, we were connected to the piece.  Initially by the pure beauty and colors, but the bond, the real connection came from knowing that everytime we looked at that piece of art, it would have its aesthetic value and then the deep and profound story we saw.  The sales person left the room.

My friend and I discussed how the different pictures were pieces we would like to look at and be reminded of their story every day in our own homes. One of the pieces had a story that spoke deeply to us both, and we both purchased a copy of it.  I purchased the second painting as well, for the same reason. 

I had no intention of buying anything in that gallery.  I never considered myself an art collector.  And, if I had made a decision to buy (or not to buy) based on the appearance of the painting(s) alone, I would have walked out without a purchase.  But, the sales person sold me the story that the picture would retell me everytime I looked at it.

I have a client that sells apparel.   When I asked them what they sold, they told me bamboo children’s jerseys with sayings on them.  I asked why they  decided to create these jerseys?  They told me:  “We developed our company out of our shared passion to create fashion that would be desirable to wear based on its appearance and comfort, have a positive impact on those that encountered it through inspiring sayings, minimize impact on the environment by using sustainable fabrics, and when possible, is manufactured right here in the USA.  We try to stay true to this mission in everything that we manufacture. That is why our clothes impact both the wearer (through the amazing silky comfort and colorful fashion), as well as the observer with the inspirational and thought –provoking words they convey.  Additionally, our economy is suffering, so we try to keep the manufacturing here instead of overseas, which is why our shirts cost more to make, but make us feel good about helping American workers.” 

Now, would you be more convinced to buy that child’s jersey made out of bamboo knowing this whole story behind it?  They weren’t trying to sell me anything, they just told me their story.  But, in the end, it is their story that I buy.  After all, I like their story, and everytime I look at one of their shirts on a child it reminds me of their story.  I feel good knowing I had supported this story that I connected to, believe in and want to be part of.

Do you have a story for your products and services?  Are you the most green providor in the area?  Are you award winning for creativity or precision?  What was the passion that led you to start your business or create a specific story?  What problem were you solving for yourself or someone else?  Do you share that story?  In the end, people are persuaded to buy based on the whole story related to your product or service, not just your widget or service alone.

Knowing Your Unique Selling Proposition Will Help You Sleep At Night

Every marketing person you ever work with will ask you, “What separates you from your competition?  What makes you unique?  Why would someone choose to buy from you instead of anyone else that offers a “similar” product?”  What they are asking is: “What is your Unique Selling Proposition (USP), also known as a Core Differentiator.”

Knowing what makes you different is essential to pursuing those members of the market place that are really your prospects and customers and not wasting time and money on those that are not.  It can also help keep you sane. 

I have a client that is a fitness trainer.  She has a program that is specifically for people that want to have fun when they work out.  Work out and not feel like they just spent an hour with a fitness trainer, but instead, went out into the fresh air with some fellow seekers of sunshine, humor and physical movement.   An hour of shared jokes and experiences while they were guided through movements that were interactive and challenging, resulting in reduced fat and inches, more flexibility and better cardio-vascular health.

These are a very specific group of people.  These are not the people that want to go to a “military-style” bootcamp where they will be pushed to their furthest physical limits by someone yelling at them, and motivating them through high pressure.  There are a large group of people who do seek this type of training because it works for them and they enjoy the results (and may or may not enjoy the process).   Having said this, the “military-style” boot camp enthusiasts would probably not be enthusiastic for my client’s program either.  Which is as it should be.

These are two fitness trainers offering similar results (assuming that both trainers are providing activities that will generate the results the participants are seeking, all training is ultimately dependent on the trainee, not the trainer – after all, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink).  They have two completely different processes of delivering the results, so are they competitors?  Some would say, “YES!”  They are certainly in the same industry.  But, at the end of the day, are the trying to appeal to the same client?  Here, I would say, absolutely not. 

My client has a very, very successful “military-style” bootcamp in her “backyard”.  They are aggressively expanding and really doing well.  Her friends call and inform her whenever they see another “win” for this fitness company, concern and anxiety in their voices.  My client shared in that anxiety until I asked her some pointed questions:

1)  Is your model successful for you?  Is there a large enough and accessible local market of people that are qualified prospects for your type of training?   “Yes, I have a core group of clients who have stayed with me for a very long time because they love getting the results of a difficult workout while enjoying the workouts themselves.  I know there is a huge market for my style of program.  I just need to market it more effectively.”

2)  Would you like to change your model and offer a “military-style” bootcamp if you think there is more money to be made there?  “No, I enjoy the program I offer and have so many participants that tell me they love it, too.  They get great physical results because they stick with the program.  This program is enjoyable and motivating to them making them want to come back and participate – it is something they look forward to.  This is the program I believe in, makes me happy to deliver every day and am passionate about delivering.”

3)  Do you think a “military-style” bootcamp would ever be successful in stealing away your customers?  “No, they would not enjoy that program.  Just not what motivates my clients.”

4)  How can this competitor hurt your business?  “They can’t really, as long as MY prospects know that I have a program for them.  That they have a choice.”

5)  Do you need to be anxious about them, then?  “No, not really.”

6)  Is there a chance you could actually help each other out?  Maybe refer people to them that want “military-bootcamp” training and they refer people who find they want to try a different style fitness training program?  “Possibly.  I will explore that.”

After this conversation, my client was able to bring a new perspective to news of the “military-style” bootcamp’s success.  Her anxiety declined and she was able to sleep better knowing that she was invested in her own program which appealed to a whole different market, and instead of focusing on her “competition,” she needed to focus on getting the word out about her own program.  She also became aware of the opportunity to potentially cross refer with this “competitor” helping each of them grow their respective businesses by guiding prospects to the best match for what they were seeking.  Huh, how about that?