Marketing your company to stand out from the rest of the pack isn’t easy, especially if you’re in an industry where your competitors offer similar services. How do you get the word out about how awesome you are without sounding like everyone else?
It’s not about the latest buzzwords or pithy phrases. It’s about capitalizing on what makes your organization unique. To do that, hold a mirror up to your organization and then do your best to articulate what you see.
Whether you’re a company of one or 100,000, these are the six areas where you will find the greatest clues to your uniqueness:
6. Your industry (and how you fit in)
On the surface, there may not seem a lot to tout here, but ask yourself: why are you in this industry in the first place? What void was the company trying to fill when it first started? What have your customers and employees said about the company on your best days? Answering questions like these will separate you from your industry peers.
5. Your environment
Years ago, as an employee of a new company, I walked into one of the conference rooms and noticed right away that almost every chair around the table was either tattered or didn’t match the others. My colleague told me, “It’s not about nice chairs for us. Everything we do is for our customer.” As the company grew, we did eventually get new office furniture, but that statement has always stuck with me as something that made this place unique.
Your company’s physical appearance has its own story to tell. A customer might not remember what was talked about when they came to your office for a visit, but how the place looked might be their sole lasting memory. What about your overall appearance stands out? Why are things laid out the way they are? Answering these questions might give you valuable insight.
4. Your capabilities
Don’t think of your entire laundry list of services. What specific activities would you say you are truly great at? What capabilities are you best known for? Your competitors might be offering the same stuff, but your specific combination of services is unique, as well as how you approach and implement them. Focus only on communicating the top three or so capabilities in which you’ve got the greatest expertise.
3. Your culture
Culture is not about that values statement poster in the break room. I’m talking about true, unvarnished personality, which is totally unique. It’s the vibe you get when you walk into someone’s corporate headquarters for the first time or how you feel when you meet with “those people” from “that company.” I called an online eyewear company recently. As I talked with the very helpful representative, our conversation was nearly drowned out by a big group near her, joyously singing “Happy Birthday.” The rep was embarrassed about the singing. However, it made me smile – she obviously worked at a fun place and a company that cared about their people, which made me think they would take good care of me too. That’s culture.
A company’s culture may not be easy to articulate, but there are “universal truths” that can provide clues. Does the team get downright ecstatic whenever there’s a problem to solve? Or, does everyone naturally focus on keeping company costs down? Start with broader themes like these and drill down to see if you can discover the “whys” behind the ones you’re proudest of. Then tell the world.
2. Your operating philosophy
The processes you’ve put in place to operate your company directly connect to your overall reputation. People take note of things like your return policy, your project turn-around time, or your procedures for handling complaints. And no other company has your unique combination of processes. Ask the people who are in frequent contact with your business why they love working with you. Would clients or customers say you always give them outstanding service? If so, what does that look like? What do your employees mean when they say working here is fun? Or inspiring? Dig deeper to learn the “why” behind things like this and write them down. These are great nuggets of uniqueness.
1. Your people
Your employees are your single biggest differentiator, both individually and as a group of diverse human beings. How would people outside your company define your team as a whole? What kind of people do you seek out when hiring? These are clues to traits you need to articulate so you can talk about them. And when you get down to the individual level, you’ve reached uniqueness nirvana. No other company on the planet has what Wendy or Kal bring to your organization. But, before you start telling the world about your employees, make sure you know how each individual likes to be recognized (standing up in front of a cheering crowd may be one person’s crowning moment, but it might be someone else’s darkest nightmare).
Ask your employee who just finished that cool project to create an article or message about it and share it on social media. Tell anecdotes about your people when describing your company. They don’t have to be fantastic stories, but they do need to be human.
If someone tells you, “Our people are dedicated to service,” that’s one thing. But if you hear, “Lewis drove all the way to the airport to personally hand Carlotta the flash drive,” that’s just pure gold.