What is Your Differentiation For This Proposal?


Two weeks ago, I wrote a post about your differentiation varying from project to project. I’ve had some thought provoking conversations regarding that post with other marketers, clients, and fellow SMPS members, so I thought it was worth discussing more.

Many savvy marketers utilize the SWOT principals to identify their company’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Usually, the SWOT analysis is used on a macro or global level during strategic planning sessions. I suggest using it for each proposal, possibly as part of your Go/No Process. During your review, list out the competitors you expect to be competing against for this job. You may compete against the same 5-6 companies regularly, but occasionally an out-of-town company may go after a speciality job or your competitors could vary per market sector. Sometimes, you just have to ask your prospective client, and they will tell you. Identify what advantages (strengths) you have over competitors and also list their strengths over you, otherwise known as your weaknesses in the SWOT analysis. If you don’t do these exercise before crafting your bid, you may miss out because your competitors are doing it to beat you.

I suggest doing this for each opportunity because each prospect has different concerns and priorities. Your universal brand differentiation may not be adequate or apply in each situation. In my post two weeks ago, I cited that I recently won a project by focusing on that fact that we’re a brand marketing firm, and we’re looking at the entire picture even though the proposal was for just a website. I knew we were competing against a web development firm, and the prospect had bigger, underlying issues that a web firm couldn’t handle.

Usually, our focus in construction is enough of a differentiation for us to win a job, but sometimes we need other “feathers in our cap” to win such as our design quality, speed, and that we code our websites in-house. Even having an illustrator on the team is an advantage at times. Things vary if we’re competing locally or nationally, too.

Even in this year’s Tour de France, the competition changed early when one of the race favorites, Froome, was injured and had to drop out of the race on Day 5. This unexpected change made each team reevaluate their own strengths and opportunities to craft a new game plan for the rest of the tour.

Do you know how you stack up against your competition in each market sector and geography? How does your differentiation vary from competitor to competitor?