Marketing is a game of influence—influencing a prospective customer to buy your product or service over your competitor’s. However, being influential in this era of information overload and shrinking attention spans, is more than a challenge for most small businesses.
We no longer live in a world where information is scarce and attention is easy to gain. The meteoric rise of the internet has flipped this around—information is now abundant and attention is difficult to gain. Consumers are bombarded with competing and conflicting messages, distracted by multiple sources of information, and being tracked and lured no matter where they browse on the internet.
This has created an environment where there is clutter from information overload, confusion from message overload and commoditisation from an overload of undifferentiated goods and services in the marketplace.
To be influential, businesses need to adapt to this new environment or risk being invisible. But how? By being different and doing it on purpose.
When a business defines what makes it different—otherwise known as a unique selling proposition or point of difference—it has a clear focus for decision-making and positioning its brand in the marketplace. Consider these examples.
From revolutionising the music industry with the introduction of iTunes to changing lifestyles with products such as the iPod, iPhone and iPad, Apple continues to lead the pack based on its brand positioning of simplicity and pushing the status quo.
Virgin is renowned for being the fun, cheeky upstart challenger brand, that shakes up industries to provide a different experience based on fun, zestful youth and dynamic optimism.
With a brand positioning statement of ‘Belong anywhere’, Airbnb has successfully responded to the trend of holiday makers seeking a more ‘authentic and connected’ travel experience by providing an online platform for renting local homes rather than hotel rooms.
Online apparel business Zappos, with its focus on ‘happiness’, is famous for its extraordinary customer service including its policy to fully refund an item up to a year after purchase.
By embracing their unique point of difference, these businesses compete on the basis of being incomparable rather than on the basis of being debatable against their competitors.
The true power of embracing your point of difference is in the attraction of prospects who are a direct match. Think of the car market. Volvo, for example, has positioned itself as the ‘safe’ option, Mercedes as the ‘luxury’ option, Audi as the ‘prestige’ option, and Jeep as the ‘adventure’ option. By wrapping all of their marketing efforts around their point of difference, these companies attract customers who want the specific experience they are offering.
Marketing guru Seth Godin says ‘In a busy market place, not standing out is the same as being invisible’. So, what’s your unique point of difference?