In the course of doing business, the differentiators I often hear are along the lines of:
- We have great people
- Our consulting methodology sets us apart
- We focus on quality
Having another project management methodology is not differentiated.
In the past few years, I’ve been approached by at least three separate clients who have cool software that facilitates collaboration, project management and content management. While they often have nice interfaces and slick organization, they are very similar to popular products on the web that are free (see http://sourceforge.net/projects/netoffice/ ) or very inexpensive (see http://www.basecamp.com ).
Tell me why its different?
Its probably not – and that is a problem. If it is hard to understand the difference – or requires deep knowledge, then it isn’t significant.
Here are three ways that you can differentiate your service and create significance:
Geography. How can you take advantage of your knowledge of a local geography? Perhaps you know the nooks and crannies better than most. Maybe you understand the nuances of the culture in a given region, enabling others to do business there more effectively through you.
For example, two Brooklyn transplants loved their new home of Philaedelphia so much that they started doing customized tours of Philadelphia for other New Yorkers seeking to move. (See www.movetophilly.com )
Another example: A startup specializes in online marketing packages geared to the local market. Small businesses like restaurants, dentists and spas turn over their online marketing efforts to this firm and they use their knowledge of the space and online marketing venues for small firms to drive business to the clients. (See www.natpal.com )
Technology. Perhaps you have purchased a new piece of equipment that enables you to perform a process that none of your competition can. Maybe you understand the latest and greatest advancements in a particular industry better than most.
Ian Cross of I-Site (www.i-site.com) works to stay on top of the latest Web 2.0 trends and technologies. He is constantly experimenting and attempting new applications using the latest and newest techniques. Next time I launch a new web application that needs to be on the cutting edge, I know who I am going to call.
Market. My favorite way to create significance is by selecting a micro-vertical market. Today’s economy allows you to access a larger marketplace than ever before. Therefore being too specialized is much less of a problem then it used to be. Being too general is a BIG problem.
Some examples of market significance that I like are:
www.recruitmilitary.com – competing as a recruiter is tough, tough business. Sometimes it seems that there are as many recruiters as there are candidates! But this firm has found an important niche. “There has never been a better time to hire a veteran!” is their tagline.
www.secure-24.com – this computer hosting and internet service company found a way to create meaning in a crowded marketspace. By focusing their efforts on creating world class, secure solutions with redundancy plans and geographic separation, they have been able to set themselves apart from the competition while servicing the emerging markets in financial services and other worlds that are hyper-concerned with compliance, data integrity and security.
Ask yourself how your business can create significance.