Differentiate or Lose the Race

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Stand Out or Lose Out

Why You?

Customers have many options, so why should they choose you if you’re “plain vanilla?” Your challenge is to stand out from the crowd of competitors. Customers and clients select those who offer value that seems better than the others. So how can you stand out and not languish in last place? Differentiate!

How to Differentiate by focusing on services & clients

Ask yourself: What can I offer clients that competitors do not? What is my “secret sauce?” Is it really that different and what makes it so? What makes me unique? Let’s look at five of the many types of differentiators for you to consider. Modify them as necessary for your enterprise.


1. Industry & Size Focus

Choose a specific industry, then focus narrowly on a size and function you know well. For example, if you provide financial services, you might help manufacturing startups find funding. Or, maybe facilitate mergers & acquisitions for large insurance companies. Focus your marketing on your target. To build credibility, exhibit your understanding of the challenges facing potential clients, and speak their industry “language.”

2. Service Specialization

Become known as an expert practitioner of a “narrow” service. Many of us are blessed with multiple skills. It’s tempting to advertise that you can provide many services that your “focus-industry” might need, but this may confuse your potential customers.

Instead, perhaps you should offer “one-stop shopping.” For example, your specialty might be helping medical equipment manufacturers achieve FDA compliance after failing an audit. Your “one-stop secret sauce” could be to also provide Quality Procedures Training to avoid future audit failures.

3. Unique Situations & Opportunities

The COVID Pandemic has caused many people to be laid off, resign to take a better-paying job, or quit to start a business and be their own boss. Look at what needs exist for COVID-stressed companies or their former employees that you might fulfill? For example, if you’re a job-search & placement specialist, you might also offer a “startup school” to help budding entrepreneurs build a business.  

4. Personalized Solutions

Clients like to feel “special.” This doesn’t mean showering them with schmoozing and flattery.

Special starts with insightful situation analysis of your client, including asking questions and actively listening to deeply understand a client’s problems, pain, needs, desires, goals, values, and so on. Confirm your conclusions and achieve agreement on what you’ll do for the client, when, and the expected value you’ll bring to the client. This is opposite of the “I have a hammer and you look like a nail” approach. What else can you do to make your client feel “special,” and to prefer you over others?

5. Specific Target Audience

Who are the “narrowly-defined” sets of people you can help within your industry? What are their specific needs within that industry space?

  • For instance, if you’re a childcare provider, how about offering a gift card for a “Date Night at a Restaurant” package, including babysitting for stressed-out parents.
  • If you’re a blog researcher and writer who is offering your services to small businesses, you could offer a project price per blog or a package price per quarter, depending on how much research is required in order to write the agreed upon blogs.

Be creative when offering your services to your specific Target Audience. Think outside the box, and don’t get restricted by thinking of only the commonplace solutions.


Test your differentiator assumptions: You can do this through Customer Discovery sessions, also known as potential-client interviews. You could also use Market Surveys or Market Trials. Once you identify a good differentiator, market it well, deliver on your promises, and win the race.

About the Author

Bob Lurz, “The Consultant’s Consultant,” coaches skilled people to launch and build successful consulting businesses. He “grows the economy, one consultant at a time.” Contact him at:

Posted in: Business Tips & Advice, Eastman Kodak Company
Tagged: brand strategy, Business Development, business strategy, marketing