Differentiation is interesting because so many CEOs, small business owners, and sales directors usually have a preconceived idea of what sets them apart from the competition.
The problem is your idea -- or your boss's idea or your board of directors' idea -- of what differentiation is, actually doesn't count.
Differentiation for Ideal Clients
Differentiation is all about who your ideal customers or clients see you as. Once you figure out who your primary buyer persona is, as well as your secondary buyer persona, you’ll know exactly who the most important economic driver is for the growth of your business. It's their perception that counts, not yours.
In a world where people are doing tons of research on search engines and social media before they ever get to your company, you need to understand it's not what you say about your brand; it’s what the collective wisdom of search engines and social media say about your brand.
How to Differentiate
If you're looking to differentiate, it’s critical to make sure that you focus on who your core buyer personas are -- primary and secondary buyer personas -- and what they care about. What problem are they having or question do they want to be answered very early on before they even know that a company like yours exists? They may not even know that your product category exists. They simply know they have a problem that needs to be solved. They know they have a goal that they're trying to achieve. They have a question that needs to be answered.
It's not about your product; it's not about your pricing; it's not about how wonderful your team is or how many awards you’ve won. It's about how your potential clients perceive you before they know that your company exists.
The 1997 definition of differentiation doesn't work anymore.
In a world where everything starts with people asking questions, what Google, Bing, Cortana, Alexis, and Siri say about your category and about the problems you solve, matters a lot more than what you think your differentiation is.
The Bottom Line
If you want to nail differentiation, spend a lot more time understanding your buyer personas and what they care about very early on. Learn how you can intercept them as early as possible as a trusted advisor and subject matter expert.
How do you define differentiation for your business? Share your thoughts in the section for comments below.
To learn more about differentiation, enroll now in our free 7-day eCourse: Go-to-Market Strategy 101 for B2B SaaS Startups and Scaleups.