What Not to Wear: Communicating your value
Fairly often in the news lately, I hear about townships threatening to make “low-riders” illegal. I’m not talking automobiles, I’m talking about fashion: (mostly) young men’s pants sinking to new lows, displaying 8 to 10 inches of underwear.
What kind of story does this communicate about the wearer (or potential non-wearer if they aren’t sporting a belt)? While the boys may assume they are flying the flag of independence and flouting authority, they are really branding themselves as followers. This style has become a dress code, so uniform among their peers, that it says “mindless follower” and shows them to be one of the many, not a standout or leader.
So when your goal is to communicate your value, define what separates you from the pack. What is it that makes you better, more capable, more knowledgeable? How is the customer experience you provide an answer to your clients’ needs? In short, what differentiates you, your company, your services or products? Generally, it is not just the deliverable but how it is delivered.
By giving your audience an easy way to distinguish you from other options, you facilitate the decision-making process. You give your potential clients a focused snapshot of how you want them to see you. You help them understand and know your [self, company, products or services] by owning a category in the prospect’s mind. When you own a position in the client’s mind—fastest response time provider, answer-man, best tech support, rarest dining experience or whatever makes you unique—you give the customer a clear and easy choice.
So when your branding facilitator asks what makes you different from your competitors, think very hard. See yourself through your customers’ eyes. Don’t give that “me too,” low rider, follower response. The easy answer is usually the cliché you see promoted by all other competitors—single source provider, all natural, fast service, quality ingredients. The right answer describes what your customers feel when they do business with you. It’s the words and stories they use to recommend you to others. It’s the value that puts you out in front of the pack. Define it. Understand it. Reinforce it. Wear it with pride.