Brand relevance: Why should people choose you over the competition?

Have you ever been to a cafe that has smashed avo on the menu? My guess is that if you live in Australia, your answer is most likely yes. But have you ever been to a cafe that offers tax returns? For most of you, I’m guessing no, as this is not the norm. While tax returns might be a little out there when it comes to what cafes should be offering, the reality is that in business, your competition offers the same (or a very similar) service or product as you.

How can business owners find brand relevance?

In this article, I want to discuss this and aim to answer the question, why should customers choose you over your competition? Recently, I visited business owners across a range of industries, and asked them why customers should choose them over their competition.

Their answers varied from “we are cheaper,” “we are faster,” or “we are local or home made”. The reality was that they all offered the same service, however the businesses that stood out thought a little differently – they really understood their brand identity, and the needs of their clients. The biggest difference I’ve seen in working with the successful small and large businesses is this – success is dependent on businesses knowing who they are.

I believe a lot of businesses don’t know who they are. Business owners often say words like, “I’d like to do a video and or a website that is like my competitor. It has seemed to work for them, just change some of the structure and make it look like us so it isn’t obvious.”

Comments like this remind me of an experience from when I was in high school, in the early 2000s. The cool kids were wearing tight pants and had long fringes, and they listened to emo music. To fit in, I decided to buy similar clothes for a party. A girl came up to me and “complimented” me –  she said, “you look like everyone else” and since she said that, it stuck with me – instead of feeling like a compliment it actually really cut me.

Why did it cut me? Because, in my opinion, “you’re just like everybody else” is possibly the worst compliment anyone can give you. The same is true for business. According to marketing experts, the average person sees between 4,000 and 10,000 ads in a single day. With that amount of competition you cannot afford to look like “everybody else”.

Never skip the basics

Do you want to attract everyone? No. You want to attract the right people. Great brands never skip the basics. The foundation has to be your brand (which is the part of your business that cannot be copied), value proposition (what you do and why it matters) and your key message (how it solves a problem for your customers.)

While your clothing, makeup and style can be replicated, what cannot be copied is your essence as a person. This is what I describe as your brand. Colours and style are descriptions of who you are. Your brand is the gut feeling you give your customers when you’re not in the room. To help brands discover who they are I like to use a three word formula;

The For Who

I encourage brands to use this method to explain what the brand is; for example a cafe or agency, then establish who the brand is for, and lastly who the brand is targeted towards.

For example; “I am the agency for leaders who want to build successful personal brands or I am the cafe for business people who want a classy place to meet”. Once you are able to establish THE FOR WHO, your target audience and unique value proposition should become clear. Meaning you now understand the right audience you want to attract.

The price to pay by trying to attract everybody

The goal of branding isn’t to attract everyone. It’s to attract the right people that resonate with you and your brand. Too often as entrepreneurs, we can fall into the trap of trying to attract everyone at the expense of creating a strong, well-defined brand.

This can be a huge problem for entrepreneurs — believe me, I’ve been there! You want to make sure you’re able to capture as many customers as possible, so you try to appeal to everyone. But in reality, this strategy has a few drawbacks like:

  1. Loss of time; In most businesses, 80% of customer service issues are due to 20% of the customers. These can be categorised as the wrong customers – broadly.
  2. Loss of money; Bad clients can lead to our business losing money. Focusing on pleasing bad clients takes time away from taking care of your good clients which leads to loss.
  3. Lastly; The biggest damage bad clients can do to our businesses, in my opinion, is to your spirit and motivation. They can drain you of the joy and passion of running your business.

It is important to remember that not all business is good business.

Matt Purcell is the founder of award-winning creative agency Mentored Media and CEO of Social Kung Fu.