The Top 10 Differentiation Mistakes


Business differentiation is one of those ethereal concepts that remains elusive to most business owners. We already know that differentiation is both necessary and doable, and yet, try as we might, we still struggle to achieve it.

Seeing examples of other success stories, many entrepreneurs have tried to improve, replicate and/or duplicate, racing to be first, best or newest ... and most of us are still try- ing. There’s a reason for that. I believe that the majority of business owners don’t really know what makes their business unique.

If you find yourself in a perpetual cycle of trying new ways to make your business differ- ent and stand out, you are likely falling victim to one or more of the following mistakes:

  1. Thinking that your product(s) makes you different.
  2. Thinking that your name and tag line will ‘do the hard work’ and differentiate you.
  3. Believing that you just need to come up with a unique idea or concept that’s different from all others.
  4. Depending on the design of catchy marketing collateral that will excite your audience.
  5. Counting on that ‘clever campaign’ to increase visibility and sales.
  6. Settling for ‘good enough’, because it’s all about the marketing.
  7. Thinking that you can copy your competition and just ‘do it better’.
  8. Serving a niche market and hoping it makes your company stand out.
  9. Making confident, bold promises that highlight potential results.
  10. Counting on your expertise, experience, or accreditation to attract clients.

While you may be achieving some success, these fundamental mistakes limit your oppor- tunities. At best they establish you as ‘good for now’ in the eyes of your clients. In reality, you still have competition and you’re only successful until some other business captures the attention of your market.

Sustainable, long-term differentiation is not created through a singular, isolated event or idea. It is not achieved through something you say or sell. It is neither a product nor a service, and it is not the result of expertise. But, it is a result. Differentiation is the result of an ongoing, remarkable experience that you create with your clients ... an experience that they choose to endorse and advocate because they value it.

How passionate and loyal are your clients and customers? If they aren’t gushing about your business, you’ve not yet tapped into your best opportunities. Differentiation can only be achieved when you have a deep understanding of who you are, what you stand for, and what you’re setting out to accomplish.

Summer often opens up time to pull out of the everyday demands of your business and reflect on your big picture intentions. Here are some thoughts you get you started:

  1. Strengthen the real value you bring to your market. Become exceptional at some- thing, not because you should, but because you want to.
  2. Deliver with genuine personality. Stand for something and let it be known.
  3. Identify your bigger game. Why do you do what you do? Why does it matter to you?

Remember, business differentiation is a work in progress, and it’s achieved by adding value in an interesting way to the people you serve, including yourself.

-Michèle

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