Differentiation

Patrick Malone, Senior Partner of The PAR Group states, “Customers are more apt to believe what they ‘see’ rather than what they ‘hear’. So the key to being different is to actually ‘be’ different.” That’s rather the equivalent of:

  • “walk the talk”
  • “actions speak louder than words”
  • “I’ll believe it when I see it”
  • “put your money where your mouth is”

Since there are so many adages stating that doing is better than saying, I’d say we should be focused on what our customers see and experience. Do you know how you are different from the competition? If so, can you clearly state that differentiation, and what your clients and prospects will gain if they choose to work with you? Can you put those differentiating factors into action to prove that your actions match up to your words?

Yes, it is all about them. It’s about what your clients and prospects will gain if they do business with you and your organization. If you don’t bring anything different to the table than your competitors, then why would anyone want to work with you – unless you were the lowest cost provider in town? If there is no differentiation, then you are a commodity. Commodities are purchased based upon lowest price.

Williams Sonoma and WalMart both sell cookware. However, Williams Sonoma can command a higher price than WalMart. Have you ever stopped to think why? I believe it’s because of several things:

  1. Higher quality cookware.
  2. Better shopping experience.
  3. Their stores are more visually appealing.
  4. The staff is knowledgeable and helpful.
  5. They carry unique cookware, not easily found in a WalMart.

You may have other attributes that you can attach to Williams Sonoma. But, one attribute you won’t attach is “lowest price”. WalMart has that category locked up. Williams Sonoma is easily able to differentiate themselves, and because of that bring a value that people are willing to pay more for.

What are your differentiating factors – the ones that people are willing to pay more for? If you’re just another price to your clients and prospects, then the message they are sending is that you are no better – no different – than anyone else. They are saying that you and your organization add no value to the equation.

As a sales rep, you have the ability to double-differentiate (I’m laying claim to making up that word). You can differentiate your organization and you can differentiate yourself. Some of you may be thinking that a sales rep is a sales rep, but that’s not true. There are some really great sales people – whether in a retail establishment or out on the streets knocking on doors. What do these great sales people look like?

  • They truly care about solving their clients/prospects problems.
  • They are interested in the people, organizations and industries that they serve.
  • They understand the difference between a one-off sale and a strategic, long-term, value added relationship – and are willing to work to develop the relationship.
  • They listen.
  • They follow-up promptly.
  • They are a resource.
  • They ask for feedback so they can continuously improve their products and services.
  • They are proactive.

I’m sure you can think of additional attributes that would help an organization and a sales rep set themselves apart so they can easily state their value to those they serve. I think all of us could benefit from pondering on our differentiating factors and then putting them into play. We don’t just want to say our service is extraordinary – we want our clients to experience that extraordinary level of service. The public can easily see through a slogan or tagline and if what you promised doesn’t happen, you can bet they will be looking for someone else to meet their wants and needs. www.multi-craft.com

 

 

 

Local Marketing Expert Shares Lessons in Networking and Mentoring with Young Pros

Multi-Craft President Deborah Simpson Visits Cincinnati AMA

Cincinnati, OH –August 9, 2012– This week, Multi-Craft president, Deborah Simpson was invited to speak at the Cincinnati American Marketing Association (AMA) Young Professionals event. Simpson, local business owner and expert in marketing support and commercial printing, spoke to the group about “Networking as a Way of Life”.

“My experiences in the business world have proven the value of building relationships and effective networking can be very helpful in doing that. Discussion with these young professionals reinforced that lesson, but was also very insightful in regard to what is new and fresh in event and online networking,” said Simpson.

Also discussed was the value of having a mentor and how that relationship can help a young professional successfully navigate the workplace. “Having a mentor, or champion, can provide a young professional with a sounding board and advocate. It can be helpful to hear another perspective or have a seasoned professional provide coaching in areas where the YP is looking to enhance their skills,” stated Simpson.

In May of this year, Multi-Craft was awarded Cincinnati AMA Small Business Marketer of the Year. Simpson continues participation as an active chapter member by sharing her expertise on marketing, print and fulfillment topics through events like this one.

Sign up for the Multi-Craft Ideas in Motion e-newsletter to stay up-to-date on all of Simpson’s speaking engagements and events. For more information, visit www.Multi-Craft.com.

About Multi-Craft

Multi-Craft is a privately-held marketing services and support company founded in 1955, providing strategic marketing support, creative and print services, mailing, fulfillment and database management for businesses seeking opportunity and growth in their market. Its focus is to develop solutions with measurable results and ROI for a long-term business partnership. For more information visit: www.Multi-Craft.com.

About Cincinnati AMA Young Professionals

This special interest group’s focus is to support YPs in professional development, networking, and social events. The group has strong connections with the AMA national and the Greater Cincinnati region, which provides a wide range of resources to develop a strong career. We offer opportunities that help you get connected with the right people, companies and career opportunities. For more information visit: http://cincinnatiama.org/shared-interest-groups-sigs-2/young-professionals/.

Networking Is Not An Event

I had the opportunity this week to speak to the Young Professional’s Group of the Cincinnati Chapter of the American Marketing Association. The topic was on networking and mentoring.

I think the word “networking” is definitely an over-used term and doesn’t do justice to the actions necessary to build a group of people who support and promote you. Networking, at it’s finest, is nothing more than building relationships. Networking is not an event – it is a chosen lifestyle!

Building your support group should never center around an event. Many people believe that showing up at an event, meeting as many people as possible and handing out stacks of business cards is the way to build an effective network. It is not. These are the same people, that the entire time you are talking to them, they are scanning the room to see if someone more important has arrived. Not a good way to build relationships.

No one will likely do business with you, or refer you to others, until they know, like and trust you. That takes time. Building relationships takes time. So, you must decide if you are willing to spend the time necessary to meet people, find out their interests, help them get what they need, stay in contact, keep commitments and all of the other activities that go along with building relationships.

If you are new to the business world, or just realizing that having a network is important, there are some things you can do to get moving:

  1. Join a group, organization or association that interests you.
  2. Join a committee within that new group and add value.
  3. Volunteer to help and then keep that commitment.
  4. Work in the best interest of the committee and the organization. Keep your personal agenda to yourself.

Those 4 activities are a quick way for people to get to know you. To see that you work hard, willingly give of your time and expertise, keep commitments and are not focused on yourself. That goes a long way to building like and trust.

If you are at a meeting, event or anywhere else – including the grocery store, airport or a doctor’s waiting room – be open to talking with people. Find out about them, their career, their current organization and anything else they are willing to share. Get their business card and then don’t go back to the office and wait for them to call you. Be proactive.

Some ways to be proactive are:

  • Send an email saying how much you enjoyed meeting them.
  • Suggest meeting for coffee to learn more about each other.
  • If they need help, reach out and help.
  • After you meet for coffee, send a handwritten thank you note for the time they spent with you.
  • If an event is coming up that you think they’d enjoy, suggest meeting them there.

As you can see, building your professional network is the same as developing a personal friendship. This is why I think networking is a way of life. Building relationships is not something you just do at a Chamber of Commerce meeting – it’s a part of your everyday life.

Granted some people are better at reaching out than others. Our world is composed of introverts and extroverts. If you are an extrovert, building relationships is probably easier for you. If you’re an introvert, it’s more difficult. But since the fabric of our lives is strengthened by those in our lives, it is worth the effort to overcome your shyness or lack of confidence. Sometimes that just takes practice.

I highly recommend the book, “How To Work A Room” by Susan RoAne. It is full of ideas and suggestions that can help anyone improve the skills necessary to build a life full of valuable relationships.

I may have a career that pigeon-holes me as a Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky printing company owner, but as technology has changed, so have we. And, that change was made easier by the people who I have built relationships with. There is value in extending yourself to others.