Big companies continue to get bigger and beat out the little guys by doing a few simple things, and doing them better than everyone else.  The strategies used by the big guys are easy to understand, and can be used by companies of any size, regardless of your marketing budget.

The foundation of all successful businesses can be simplified into one short statement:

Be different from competition in a way customers value.

Whether you’re a huge brand, a start-up, a product maker, or a service provider this applies to you.  Business is simply customers trading money for a solution.  However, customers today don’t just buy products, they choose between lots of options.  Our lives are packed with spending opportunities, and many products seem the same.  It’s more important than ever to give customers a reason to choose you.

Great businesses get big and stay big by continually learning what their customers value, and delivering it in a way that stands out from competition.

Simple, right?

Positioning your business distinctly from your competitors may seem obvious, but many companies, even large ones, fail to do it.  There are four simple questions that billion dollar brands ask themselves each and every year to be certain customers continue to choose them.

Question #1:  Who is your target?

Who are the customers you’re really going after?  Hint:  “everyone” is not a great answer.  As you think about your target, consider these questions:

  • Who are your most profitable customers?
  • Who purchases from you the most frequently?
  • Who do you enjoy serving the most?
  • Who recommends you to others most often?
  • Who has the most future potential?
  • Who do you provide the most value for?
  • Who do you have special insights about?
  • Who are your competitors not going after?

Question #2:  What does your target need or want?

As consumers, we have lots of needs we’re trying to fulfill with every product we buy.  Think of a simple product like tissues.  We might be thinking about softness, absorbency, strength, price, box shape, box artwork, availability where we shop, size, brand name, tissue count, transportability, and more.

What needs or wants do your customers want to fulfill with your product or service?  Do you know which ones are most important?  Which ones can you deliver better or differently from competition?

Question #3:  What is your unique benefit?

Create a list of the benefits you’re providing for your customers.  What needs and wants are you fulfilling for them? Your list is probably lengthy, but what are you doing that differentiates you from your competition?  Many times companies are providing unique benefits that they’re not even telling the customers about.  The best companies choose just one thing that sets them apart from competition.  Then they focus solely on that message.

Question #4:  Why should they believe you?

What support do you have that you’ll deliver on what you say?  What’s your “because?”  Giving a reason why can dramatically change customer perceptions.  This is best illustrated with some examples.  Papa John’s has better pizza because they use better ingredients.  You can trust that Progressive has low prices because they give you competitor quotes right on their site.

Now you’re ready for marketing.

Once you’ve figured out how you’re providing value different from competition, you’re ready to do marketing.  What you say in your marketing messages will be simple if you’ve done this work up front.

Gerry O'Brion - Keynote Marketing & Branding Speaker


Gerry spent his career growing big brands such as Procter & Gamble, Coors Light, Quiznos, and Red Robin. Now, he translates strategies from billion dollar brands into techniques that any company can use, regardless of their budget.

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