The other way, different thinking concept, 3D rendering

Differentiation has always been pivotal to creating successful marketing strategies.  If you refer back to any of our previous blogs, whether the subject is around positioning, customer behaviour, USPs or competition, differentiation always plays a crucial role.

However, since we wrote our last blog article a few weeks ago, it feels as if the world has been turned upside down, as if someone has pressed a huge ‘reset’ button.  Ultimately what this means is that all those businesses who were operating within their safe ‘bubble’ have just seen it popped and are suddenly exposed.

It has taken many of us a period to merely readjust and get our heads around what has happened so we can focus on the current strategy to navigate through this process, and the long term strategy to build ourselves back up to where we were (and beyond).

Obviously, there are some businesses and industries who have benefited greatly from the global pandemic – they are the lucky ones.  The rest of the business world is facing probably the biggest challenge it has ever encountered.

So, what does all this have to do with differentiation in marketing? Well if you thought you were deluged with excessive, non-personalised, marketing messages before all this kicked off, the situation has gone crazy since.

I am sure you have probably deleted most of the messages you have received into your inbox, but hazard a guess at how many emails over the last three weeks you have received with either:

  • Covid-19 or Coronavirus in the subject title
  • The first 6 words of the email containing one of the following words – “challenging”, “difficult” or “unprecedented” (the ‘paint by number’ favourite at the moment).
fish daring to be different by swimming the other way

As soon as I get an email that ticks one or both of those “autopilot” email rules, I autopilot delete! Why? It could be useful and interesting.  However, the chances are it will merely be sympathising with me about the situation and then subtly, or bluntly explaining why during this period I should be using their services more than ever!

Perhaps I am being a little harsh – some genuinely do have an offering which is aimed at supporting the business community and may be of interest.  The trouble is, it is being lost in all the “noise”.

Differentiation has always been about what can make you stand out from the crowd.  What will attract people towards you.  How can your business look like a giraffe in a flock of sheep?

It is very tempting to fall in line and follow suit, and it may make you feel better that you are reaching out.  But wouldn’t it make you feel better if you actually reached the right people with the right message and got higher levels of engagement.

Energy saving light bulbs business concept of Differentiation on black paper

It is not all doom and gloom though.  If you recall I used the word ‘reset’ in the opening of this blog.  This word has both negative and positive connotations.  Yes, if your service has been paused or cancelled it means that you may need to work harder to get it activated again (especially now that your clients have experienced life without it for an extended period).  On the other hand, this reset has allowed you some thinking space to consider your own business.  What can you do differently? How can you improve your offering?  What can you do to differentiate yourself even further away from the competition?  What can make you better?

The businesses who will come out the other side of this in a relatively good shape will be the ones who embrace the opportunity that it provides. 

Finally, your communications and messaging are even more critical now.  Don’t make a noise for the sake of it.  Make sure you are communicating with the right target audience, in the right way with something worth listening to. 

Screen of interference noise
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Ian is the founder of Opportunity Marketing marketing, with over 18 years of experience in successfully setting up marketing departments, creating marketing strategies and implementing these strategies across a wide number of SME companies in both the B2B and B2C sectors through a variety of channels.