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The Green Sheet Online Edition

July 09, 2012 • Issue 12:07:01

Be positively different to make your business stand out

By Peggy Bekavac Olson

One of the most important things you can do for your business is to be different. In an era when merchants are constantly bombarded by solicitations for merchant processing services with pitches that tend to all sound the same, being different can go a long way toward boosting your business.

Demonstrating unique positive qualities can help you win more new business, increase merchant stickiness and reduce attrition, as well as combat the downward spiral of price compression for what the market has come to view as a commodity service.

Setting yourself apart

Being different sets your firm apart from the competition by providing value that others do not. It's what a prospect or customer would say when asked to identify what's special about doing business with you.

Without differentiation, all businesses selling the same product or service ultimately compete head-to-head against one another, with price being the only determining factor in making a sale. Does this sound like a familiar situation that you encounter selling merchant services today? If so, keep reading.

Learning how to be different

The first step in being different is to identify a marketplace niche that is well suited to your businesses' strengths, inherent skill-sets and interests. It's important that the niche enables you to solve a specific problem for potential customers and fills an important need.

The niche you select should permit you to uniquely position your business in a different light than the competition, while being big enough to allow you to make plenty of money.

Second, you must choose one or more strategic characteristics or factors that your company can use to distinguish itself in the marketplace.

Step back and identify your company's core strengths to determine how you bring value to merchants. Understand and identify what your company brings to the table that no other company can or does.

Take a look at the list provided below of potential distinguishing business factors. The purpose of the list is simply to jump-start thinking about how you can position your company to be different. It is certainly not comprehensive or exhaustive in scope. Potential distinguishing factors include:

  • Accessibility
  • Brand reputation
  • Brand status
  • Convenience
  • Customization
  • Customer service
  • Deliver
  • Durability
  • Flexibility
  • Financing
  • Manufacturing
  • Packaging
  • Payment terms
  • Price
  • Promotion
  • Professional credentialing
  • Quality
  • Reliability
  • Satisfaction guarantee
  • Stability
  • Training
  • Value
  • Value-added solutions
  • Warranty

Choosing differentiators wisely

Not every differentiation factor in the list will work for your organization. That's a good thing because businesses cannot compete on the same level, in the same way, to be profitable. It is also not reasonable to use many or all of the differentiation characteristics listed, as this typically results in stretching your organization too thin during the implementation process. It also muddies your message to the marketplace. Differentiation is a situation where less is definitely better than more, so be specific and focus on excelling at one or just a few characteristics, rather than trying to be good at everything.

You may already have an inkling about how your business is different and want to get started working on it right away, but it's always a good idea to reach out to some of your best customers to get their take and perspective. Ask them why they do business with you and what, in their opinion, makes your business stand out. You might be surprised at what you hear.

Another important activity is to approach two or three prospects who haven't done business with your firm recently to find out why they chose another vendor and not you. This outside viewpoint will provide a unique evaluation of your company and should prove invaluable in helping you create powerful differentiation to propel your business forward.

Doing what it takes

Once you settle on how you are or want to be different, you need to focus on doing the things required to truly be different. In other words, you can't just talk; you need to walk the talk and do what it takes to become the company you aspire to be in the marketplace. You must make sure that your organization is living and breathing the characteristics that make you distinct for differentiation to truly be effective.

Don't forget about creating clear and concise marketplace messaging to communicate your positioning effectively. State not only who you are, what you do and how you are different, but also how what you do helps or benefits your potential customers.

Spreading the word

Tell everyone about what differentiates your business. Do this consistently and repeatedly, through all the various communication channels and mediums you employ. Your salespeople should have their elevator speeches down cold. In addition, this messaging should pervade your website, your marketing collateral and more.

Also, be open to new ways of getting your messages across. For example, you could keep an eye out for promising new social media sites and reach out to the group's members before your competitors have caught on.

Or you could explore new ways to jointly promote your businesses with your partners. If you communicate in a manner that captures the market's imagination in a positive way, this can be one of the factors that makes your company unique.

Differentiation can boost confidence in your business in the minds of your employees, customers and merchant prospects. So take it to heart: being different is a good thing. Take action today to win more new business, increase merchant retention, and combat price compression by knowing and effectively communicating how you're different. end of article

Strategic Marketing

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