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Avoiding "Me Too" Marketing with a Competitive Advantage

by Marcia Yudkin

When I was probing a client on what made his business special, he replied, "Actually, I'm just like everyone else. What's wrong with that? I'll just be another burger place."

But with a "me too" presentation and no distinctiveness, your firm becomes harder to remember, harder to recommend and difficult to market in a focused way. Why create such challenges deliberately? 

Instead, select something appealing for customers around which to create your identity. Possibilities are endless. 

Your key differentiator might be:

Personality (humorous, friendly, frank, drill-sergeant disciplinarian, motherly, non-judgmental). Don't assume that what appeals to you most also appeals most to your target market. For instance, while you might enjoy associating with individuals who have a joke for every occasion, many clients might not like this quality in a surgeon, an accountant or a fitness trainer.

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On the other hand, since personality transplants haven't been perfected yet, the image for your firm should more or less match the
people working in it. Even so, everyone has more than one side or tendency, and the idea here is to choose a quality that sets you apart from competitors and has attracting power for your target market.

Values (respect for tradition, pet-friendly, honesty above all). A friend owns a bed-and-breakfast inn that serves only organic food. This appeals to people who hold certain beliefs about what is good to eat and who prefer not to compromise those beliefs while traveling. Likewise, you might be selling office supplies but set yourself apart from the pack by letting it be known that you donate excess or discontinued inventory to a local homeless shelter.

Specialization (burgers for meat lovers or for dieters).  Folks who like juicy, tasty hamburgers will go out of their way for yours if you explain how yours differ from those at fast-food joints. If you're a financial advisor, working primarily with women, or with women business owners, or
with widows increases the interest of members of those groups in doing business with you.

Price (lowest, highest, depending on results).  Price-consciousness doesn't always favor bargains. Some people shopping for gifts or service providers prefer top-drawer pricing because it implies quality, prestige or

Relationship (constant contact, distant but on-call).  You can stand apart from competitors by being the one who proactively checks in with clients and returns all phone calls within an hour. Or you can set yourself up as the expert who will never schmooze or go out to lunch with
clients, but work hard to save their neck when trouble comes calling.

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Experience (first in Philadelphia, new and fresh, in business since 1886). Years ago, when I asked an Memphis-based communications consultant what distinguished her from competitors, she had a terrific answer: "There
are people here who understand technology, but they don't know Memphis. Mine is the only communications firm that understands technology and knows Memphis inside out - I've been here for 25 years."

Method of working (speedy, methodical, creative). I'm not just another marketing consultant, since I emphasize that my forte is creative marketing. If you're a web designer, perhaps your specialty is impossible deadlines - or slower production but a guarantee of no bugginess and no

When you're just another burger place, you're a replaceable commodity, enduring mediocre sales and having to fight for new and repeat business. With a distinct identity, there's a compelling reason for your ideal clients to hire you rather than those #&%$@* competitors. 

Copyright 2002 Marcia Yudkin.  All rights reserved. 

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