I’m in the market for new skis. (OK, I’m always in the market for new skis but that’s not my point.)
I’ve demoed a pair of Rossignol S7’s and these lovelies pictured here to the left.
Despite the fact I’ve skied all my life, I don’t have a lot of technical knowledge of the construction of a ski. I just know when I take them out: I either love, hate or am ambivalent.
I loved both the Rossignols and the Kästles. So what will I choose? The Kästles. Why? It has nothing to do with price, it’s not about the product (I love both.). It’s because Kästle is the brand I associate with. It makes a better emotional connection with me.
Rossignol didn’t do anything wrong. I’m just not their customer.
When your product is a commodity, persuading your buyers to choose you can be an elusive game. But you have to give them a reason. In order to give them a reason, you must know why they’d choose you.
Declare Your Position of Excellence
On a call today, Eric Morganstern said, “Own a position of excellence, not difference.” It’s a validating statement because we spend a great deal of time differentiating ourselves, but let’s be honest. We’re not necessarily different. We can’t always be “the only” at something. We all have competitors.
Which begs the next question: What is it that makes you excellent? What do buyers choose you?
By having a clear sense of who we are, we know who we attract. This is no different than human dynamics when it comes down to it. Love yourself first. If you’re reading this saying you are everything to everyone, then you have to win on price. No two ways about it.
Kästle made the connection with me. Skiing is integral to my life, and the boards I’m on are an expression of that. I choose a smaller brand that focuses on performance and construction over fancy graphics and larger-scale production.
Again, one isn’t better than the other. It depends on buyer personas and the choices they make. Rossignol should carry on doing what they do well, catering to the people they make happy. and there are plenty. More so than Kästle.
The Secret Sauce to Branding
Gawd I wish I had the answer. The secret is there is no secret. My friend Eden Irgens, co-founder of brand agency Range compares creating the brand to building a celebrity profile. How do you want to be perceived? Develop that personality. It might be an extension of the founder/CEO or it can be something you create – a fictional character.
For Eric and his agency; he said it took years until they finally distilled their position into a 5-second sound byte.
Be advised, how you want to be perceived and how you are perceived can be two divergent ideas. Be open and ride the flow. Evolve with time and let that position of excellence become molded to your community. Then nurture and thrive with it.
Infuse that personality out every pore of the organization.
I was working in MailChimp last week on behalf of a client trying to figure out how to edit the social connections when I came across this in the account settings that made me spit coffee through my nose:
MailChimp is known for their sense of humor which is nice because deploying email campaigns isn’t always exactly fun. Why not inject a sense of humor along the way? “Disable MailChim Personality ‘Because I’m a party pooper'” is brilliant because far be it for anyone to call me a party pooper. I’m guessing their rate of disabling is pretty low.
So, I ask you: Why should do your buyers choose you?[ssba]
Nancy Goldstein says
Great post, Lisa. Agree – focusing on differentiating is like saying be different for the sake of being different. Which is pointless. There is no value there to anyone. I like how you phrase it – focus on being excellent. Well done. Enjoy the skis!
Lisa Gerber says
Right? I’ve thought about that for my business in particular – not just clients. Digital marketing strategists are freaking everywhere! How do we differentiate? by being awesome, and creating relationships. Thanks, Nancy!
Erin Feldman says
Haha! One of the whole reasons I chose and have stayed with MailChimp is the company’s sense of humor.
And, yes, there’s no point in playing the comparison game. It just robs you of peace and joy and makes you seem petty to potential customers.
Lisa Gerber says
Seriously! They make email campaigns fun. Not to mention the whole interface is just more user-friendly. 🙂
Erin Feldman says
Now you understand why I like MailChimp more than Constant Contact and iContact. 🙂