Will You Blend In or Will You Stand Out?

by Kacey Larsen

In a world where everyone who shows up gets a trophy, the result is that no one stands out. “Winners” are rewarded for being mediocre.
All contractors claim to do great work. If doing good work is what you think separates you and your remodeling business in your marketplace, the reality is you don’t stand out and in the eyes of many consumers you are essentially a commodity to be bought on price. That’s right, if what you offer is perceived to be the same as everyone else, why would they pay more?
Rather than try to be the same as all the “good contractors” in your marketplace you should seek to stand out and be different. At the same time, there is no value in being different unless you have honestly built a unique business. Keeping a long-term perspective in mind, when you finally retire from your business, will you get a trophy for accomplishing being the same as your competition and then fade away? Or, will you be recognized by others as someone who stood out by being different and became thought of as the standard for others.

Being Different Might Not Matter
If you are truly doing things differently than others in your market, does anyone — other than your current customers — else know? Being different and your unique benefits can be wasted if you don’t also communicate those qualities to a wider group of potential customers. In other words, unless the marketplace in general knows your brand and what makes you different, your difference will only become recognized by the few people who are fortunate enough to have found you. Instead, thinking long term, consider the marketing you should start today to create the brand and brand awareness you want to be known for tomorrow.

The Bus Stop Question
To help my coaching clients get their branding efforts started in the right direction, I ask them the bus-stop question. I ask them to picture themselves five years from now sitting incognito at a local bus stop and at the other end of the bench are two of their past clients. The idea of the bus-stop question is if those past customers were discussing your business, their experience and what made working with you and your business different, what would you want to hear them say? By thinking ahead in this way today, you can start working now on how you want to be defined and known tomorrow.

What’s Your Inside Reality?
In his book titled Selling the Invisible, Harry Beckwith discusses the difference between the outside perception and the inside reality of your business. What people come to think about you and your business from observation is the outside perception. By looking at your work, they decide what outside perception they have about you and your business. On the other hand, by actually doing business with you and your team and experiencing what it is like to do so, your customers come to know the inside reality your business offers.
The key to standing out will be to have a great inside reality and at the same time find ways through your marketing to expose that inside reality to people who want those things that make you stand out. Of course, just because you tell them you are different doesn’t mean they will or should believe you. With that in mind, it is also very important that you get your past customers to provide you with reviews and testimonials that validate your inside reality as well as the value your difference brings to the right customers. Once the market knows you’re different and how, then you have accomplished differentiating your business.

Be Patient But Diligent
Earning a reputation in your marketplace for being different takes time to achieve. Plus, as the old saying goes, bad new travels faster than good news. Again, think long term. Consider that everything you do, even the simplest of details, can add to your inside reality. At the same time, even the little mistakes and oversights can take away from your brand and inside reality.
The trick is to make sure you promote the good things that differentiate your business and quickly address and eliminate the things that will compromise your brand. Work hard to make sure you do the little things that make a big difference for your customers. When things go wrong, you can even reveal your inside reality by the way you resolve them.
When I owned my remodeling business, many customers shared they kept doing business with us because of the way we acted and automatically took responsibility when things didn’t go as planned. Remember, people might forget what you did for them, but they will certainly remember how you made them feel for a long time to come. | QR

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