Who Cares about Differentiation Anyway?
Your client’s do, and that’s what really matters. Surprisingly, there are still skeptics out there on this subject, but to me it’s a no-brainer: Differentiating your company makes your prospective customers’ job easier to pick you over your competitors, and it increases your chances of converting that prospect into a customer.
What happens when an important prospect visits to your website? Will they remember you after they’ve visited a dozen or so of your competitors’ websites? What about your proposals? Many times you’re competing against a dozen, or even 50 other companies. Only 1 company can win the job; will it be you?
The two keys to differentiation are:
Discover & State Your Differentiation – Duh! Right? Nope! When speaking with prospective clients about the RFP/Bid process, I hear the same story over and again that tells me something different. They all tell me that they read through 10-50 proposals which are all too similar to each other to help them make their selection. Most of the submittals they receive contain few, if any, real differentiating characteristics. Instead, they contain the same cookie cutter jargon that is used over and over. So what do they ultimately base their decision on? The lowest price.
I witnessed a construction company lose an $8 million job because they didn’t state their differentiation at all. They thought because they were well known in the industry that the prospect already knew it – they were wrong.
If you ask a dozen construction companies what they think their differentiation is – 10 of them will probably say, “We’re on time, on budget” or “Great customer service,” or “We have the best people.” That seems to be the baseline qualification, but there is nothing special about you if 10 out of 12 competing companies say it too.
Think about what makes your company unique. Your clients and employees may have learned it over time, or maybe you spoke about it with them one-on-one, but maybe you’re not sure how to bring your differentiation into your marketing materials and proposals. Don’t leave your strategic marketing advantage to chance. Discover it, define it, and spotlight it across all your communication opportunities.
Be Memorable – This one is hard to tackle with those of you who believe that doing a good job is all the brand marketing you need to earn more work. Doing a good job is important, but unfortunately, just doing a good job isn’t enough anymore. Obviously, it’s important because a bad reputation can sink a construction company fast, especially in today’s world of instant news. But, so can having a good one if no one knows about it because you keep it a secret.
Your marketing materials, in particular, your website and proposals need to look professional for credibility, but they must also standout and be remarkable. Not just in the look-and-feel, but also in the message of why and how you are different. You need to market and explain your unique value proposition if you expect prospects to value your differentiating characteristics over those of your competitors.
On the web, you have 7 seconds to engage someone visiting your website – that is why fostering credibility online is necessary. In a proposal, you need to be memorable so the selection committee goes back and references your proposal after reading a dozen others because it stood out to them.
If you do not differentiate your company, culture, and skills, then you leave your customer no choice but to choose by price… and the lowest price always wins, right? Customers will pay more for perceived value, and it’s up to you to educate them on what that value can mean to them.
So, what makes you different than the next construction company?