- February 16, 2009
Differentiating a commodity is difficult, just ask anybody that sells gas, rice, or copper. These products are relatively undifferentiated and therefore can’t be sold at a premium. A supplier must bend to the will of the market and price their products properly or risk being undercut by another supplier selling the same product at a lower price. These price wars benefit the consumer but hurt the suppliers.
What if you are a supplier in an increasingly commoditized market such as Search Engine Optimization consulting? How do you differentiate your services from your competitors without straying too far from the “mainstream” SEO consulting business?
Unique Selling Propositions
Vast fortunes can be made based on a proprietor’s ability to develop and promote a Unique Selling Proposition (USP, also called a Unique Value Proposition or Unique Selling Point) for their product or service. A USP is critical because it conveys a unique benefit to the consumer.
Unique: radically distinctive and without equal
Benefit: something that aids or promotes well-being
If you sell pizza and can demonstrate that YOUR company delivers pizza faster than anybody else, you can persuade a lot of customers to buy from you simply based on the fact that they will get it sooner. Although your pizza may be exactly like your competitors’, your faster delivery time is the unique benefit.
Goats On The Roof
Want a practical example? Imagine you own and operate a small country store in small town in rural Georgia. Thousands of travelers drive through your town each week on their way to and from a nearby recreational lake and they have a half dozen country stores to choose from in your town alone. How do you differentiate your business and get more than a 1/6th share of the customers and revenue?
Simple, you put goats on your roof. Build them an intricate series of bridges, houses, and ways for visitors to feed them.
This is an actual country store in Tiger, GA named Goats On The Roof.
Drive through Tiger, GA (Google Map) on any given weekend and you will see that almost everybody stops at Goats On The Roof simply to feed the goats and marvel at the novelty of the idea. My hunch is that not many people would care to stop if it were simply Goats In A Field or even a Goats In A Petting Zoo. You can bet this attraction has resulted in significantly more business for the proprietors and a better shopping experience for the customers.
The Lessons for SEO Consultants
You may notice a lot of competition in your town or across the country for the consulting services you provide. This is validation that SEO works and that companies are deriving enough value from it to invest and recommend it as part of a larger marketing strategy to other businesses.
What are you doing to differentiate yourself from the other SEO consultants or firms in your town? Livestock might not be the answer in our industry, but perhaps you can position yourself as the “go-to” person for reputation management crises, local search marketing, or mobile search optimization.
Can you offer anything different? Faster turn-around times? Better and more useful reporting? On-site training and knowledge transfer for your clients’ marketing teams?
By developing and promoting your USP, you are able to differentiate yourself from seemingly similar businesses. This will lead to greater visibility and for your services, and most likely improve your client acquisition and retention efforts.