Differentiate or Die: Standing Out In A Crowd


How important a core difference is essential to marketing success.

Marketing behaviorQuite often a small business owner will ask me to reveal the most powerful marketing strategy I have seen. The answer may surprise you.

The most powerful marketing strategy I know has little to do with direct mail, adverting, special promotions, websites or referrals. No, before any of those ‘tactics’ will have any major impact on your business you must first find, commit and communicate a compelling difference between you and everyone else that says they do the same thing as you.

Let’s do a quick mental exercise.

Pretend that you are in a room full of your competitors and I asked this question. “If you think you offer a fair price, please raise your hands”. “Now, lower your hands if you don’t offer great customer service.” “Lower your hands if you don’t feel you are an expert and can deliver valuable advice” How many hands do you think would be up? Almost all right? So, if you don’t do an effective job at “educating” you customers on how specifically you are different, guess what the deciding factor is? PRICE!!!! Who wants to compete on price?

Look, we all know that every business is special and unique in its own way. But the bigger question is does your potential clients know? You have to answer the following question “why should I choose you?” from the customer perspective. There are several ways you can establish a unique selling proposition. Here are a few:

  • Unique service
  • Market niche
  • Special offer
  • Solve a specific problem
  • Message of value
  • Unique habit
  • Unique product
  • Unique packaging
  • Outrageous guarantee
  • Customer service
  • Against the competition
  • A way of doing business

Once you have spent some time and discovered your uniqueness, you must commit to it. These core differences will become the foundation for all of your marketing material and advertising messages. You will use these unique differences to create your marketing materials that educate.

Dig deep into this exercise, it will serve you well. This is another prime example of why it is so important to spend time on Strategy before jumping into Tactics.


  1. This is classic and proven marketing advice. Ultimately you want to differentiate, demonstrate and promote your brand. That in my mind is the route to becoming top of mind with your target market which is after all the holy grail for brand marketers.

  2. Jeff:

    Wrapped up tightly in that difference needs to be a clear invitation to take part (let them KNOW about your difference) a significant amount of relevence. Difference with invitation is just plain scary. Invitation without relevence is a waste of the audience’s time.

    Thanks for making “different” so clear!


  3. Jeff,

    Spot on – I don’t want to be lemmings myself – being a follower, battling with competitors in price war. I want to be unique, and differentiated.

    Thanks for the inspiring post 🙂

  4. for most people maybe price is everything.. so it must be consider