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Whether you’re selling shoes or financial services, you need to ‘step up’, and establish your point of difference, with a well thought out core marketing message.

Is Your Marketing Turning Your Business Into a Commodity?

There is no such thing as a commodity. All goods and services are differentiable.

—Theodore Levitt

I buy my shoes from a family owned specialty men’s shoe store that has been operating in Melbourne for over 60 years. An employee with 16 years of service tells me the business has over 30,000 customers who, on average, purchase a new pair of shoes every 18 months.

A quick calculation:

30,000 customers, in an 18-month buying cycle, represent approximately 20,000 shoes sales per year, 1600 per month, 350 per week, or 60 per day. The average price of a pair of shoes is $200 (a conservative estimate). The owners don’t handle the importing and purchasing, and don’t have sales or offer discounts, as they don’t want their customers to pay $400 for shoes only to find them discounted a few months later.

There are dozens of places to buy shoes in Melbourne. Many of these stores look the same, and some are owned by big international chains, but this family-owned business continues to thrive and out-sell its competitors.

What’s the secret?

No two businesses are identical

Regardless of the type of product or service you offer, you must convince prospective clients that you have more to offer than the norm. Otherwise they will view your business as merely a commodity.

No two financial services businesses are identical, yet I see far too many trying to cast the widest possible net to snare any and all potential clients. In many cases their marketing message makes it impossible for prospective clients to understand exactly what their businesses do.

A typical financial service website states:

“Our team is committed to the consistent provision of quality service and advice. You will have a single point of contact with someone who knows and understands your situation, and manages your insurance and claims requirements quickly and efficiently. Further to this, each year we offer an annual review to ensure that your cover continues to meet your changing needs, providing you with peace of mind now and in the future”.

I checked out a dozen other sites and found similar non-compelling statements.

You must stand out from the crowd. This involves positioning your business and knowing exactly what you are marketing and selling. A crystal-clear marketing message that speaks to the needs of your prospective clients is the essential ingredient that will make your phone ring and drive new business opportunities to fill your sales pipeline.

Here are six steps to take to dramatically improve your marketing message:

  1. Identify your target market. Who is your message directed to? What are the demographics and psychographics of your target markets? What are they buying, when do they buy, and why do they buy?
  2. Identify a specific problem your typical clients have. Articulate the problem clearly and succinctly to demonstrate that you understand it, and have some definite ideas about how to provide a solution. This is how you’ll gain their attention.
  3. Explain the benefits and advantages you offer. Convert your features and processes into the benefits and advantages that clients receive as a direct result of working with you.
  4. Share your results.  Develop a portfolio of stories, articles and case studies to show prospective clients that you can deliver.
  5. Find a unique competitive edge that is right for you.  Look at your business from the point of view of your client. What is unique and fascinating about your business? What’s the WOW factor that sets you apart?
  6. Offer a real guarantee. Create a simple and easy to understand guarantee that reverts any risk on to you, so your clients’ perception of risk to themselves is diminished.

Focus on each of these steps – one at a time – to develop a core marketing message for your business.

Top performers understand that everything can be made special. A core marketing message will help you stand out from the crowd, and out-sell and out-perform your competition.

Obviously this is good for you. And it’s even better for your clients. They want to you succeed so you can continue to look after their best interests.

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