Somewhere along the line some marketer coined the term “point of difference” when advising companies how to stand out and we’ve been running with it ever since. We hear it at every turn – in order to attract customers SMB owners need to establish a POD and what separates them from their competitors out selling similar services. They need to find what makes them unique. Some call it an angle. To me, it’s always been about creating experiences that customers will remember, want to talk about and remain loyal to. It’s about creating something that stands out and has meaning.
- Kellogg’s is creating memorable experiences by etching their logo onto each one of their cornflakes. Imagine seeing that the next time you scoop up a spoonful.
- Zappos creates experiences by using customer service to deliver WOW effects. They’ve created a model that small business owners everywhere are trying to replicate.
- Southwest sets itself apart by refusing to charge people to check bags or even assign seats. Whether you love or hate the latter (I hate it), it’s creates a unique experience.
- Chris Brogan wrote about Griffin, a company that restored an old van before driving it cross country to CES to park in their booth. A much different experience than renting a car and driving it and it got people talking.
Focusing your marketing efforts on creating experiences does two things. First, it creates a story around your brand for your customers to share. We all know that word of mouth is the most powerful marketing device out there, but how often do we actively give people something to talk about? If you want them to tell their friends, you have to give them something to share. Even if that something isn’t tangible.
Creating experiences also helps foster a sense of community with your brand and gives customers a reason to keep coming back. People want to feel a certain way and if you associate your brand with what they’re looking for, they’ll respond to that. There was an interesting article on AdAge last week that noted that 78 percent of consumers choose brands based on their aspirations and how well they align with their own personal values. Customers seek out brands that represent who they want to be and then they become loyal to them. Think of Apple. Or Nike. Or even Starbucks.
When you think of these brands you get a very clear picture of their customers. That’s no accident.
How are experiences created?
- By playing on emotion and making interactions as personal as possible.
- By nurturing the values that YOU stand for. Don’t worry, you’ll naturally find the customers who are equally passionate about the same things.
- Being interesting. Doing the same as everyone else doesn’t create an experience, it creates a ‘me too’. No one remembers who came in second. Etching your logo on individual corn flakes? Crazy!
- Knowing what’s important to your customer and finding the intersection in your brand.
- Finding ways to become part of their daily life.
- Giving customers something to take with them, even if it’s just a smile.
You know you want your customers to talk about you, butwhat do you want them to say? What steps have you taken to build experience-making into your marketing strategy and the way you do business? After all, if you want people to spread your buzz, you have to give them something to share.
I would add that you need to create the experience consistently as well. Franchises are built on the concept of delivering a consistent experience. SMBs need to pay attention to this as they bring on additional employees (as you mentioned, Zappos has this mastered) so that every employee can produce a WOW! experience for each customer every time.
Thanks Lisa for a really great article and perspective on creating Points of Difference (POD). Love that term. I had been thinking in terms of “Separation Points” with regards to competitive differentiation. I also kept thinking about the concept of being remarkable and creating remarkable content, experiences that get someone else to “remark” (WOM) about their experience with you. Congratulations for putting another dimension on it without ever using the word – Remarkable!
Good piece. It’s so easy to lose track of this in the daily focus on increasing traffic, RPM, and other critical business metrics. Another key piece of advice is to build metrics around this experience. Tweets? Incoming Links? Positive support e-mails? Something. Because in most companies you can’t beat numbers-based arguments without your own metrics. And even if you can do things your way, optimizing based solely on instincts is rarely successful.
It is how much value you can create and the ability to make a good experience that will keep your customers coming back for more.
This is what sets competitors apart. Price doesn’t matter, as long as you provide more value than your competitor, you can raise prices by 10-50% and you still won’t run out of Business.
What you do in your Business today, reflects the future value of Business and what customers has to say about it.
Keep creating a brand that’s worth raving for.
Great reminders in your article!
I think that car companies are probably the greatest at creating experiences.
For example, what experience do you think you’ll have when you purchase and drive a Lexus? Or a BMW? Or..like your car-A Ferrari?
The Franchise King
I think people really like personal experiences. Many of us are a bit timid about discussing our personal views or passions and sharing bits and pieces of ourselves with others. However, when you aren’t afraid to do that, you open yourself up and allow people to connect to you – personally.
As Lisa stated:
“By playing on emotion and making interactions as personal as possible.”
“By nurturing the values that YOU stand for. Don’t worry, you’ll naturally find the customers who are equally passionate about the same things.”
“Being interesting. Doing the same as everyone else doesn’t create an experience, it creates a ‘me too’.”
Share your personal experiences and views, tell some of your stories, learn to laugh at yourself – share with others and let them in. I think that just by doing those few simple things, you can begin to create an “experience” for someone – a personal one.
Great article, Lisa!
I really like this post. Creating an experience can be so simple and it takes courage.