How do you position your products and services?
Finding your uniqueness is incredibly difficult, yet some companies do it consistently well. How do you learn from their ability to position their products and services?
Also, do you really need a uniqueness for every business product and service? The answer is “yes” and this episode will reveal why that's the case.
A patch of grass, is a patch of grass, is a patch of grass, right?
Take for instance the patch of grass near the volcano, Ol Doinyo Lengai in Tanzania
Every year around February, the wildebeest calves are born, all at the same time. If you look at where the calves seem to graze, it's on one patch of grass—while completely ignoring the rest of the think.
This particular grass, which stretches for miles, has nine times the phosphorus and five times the calcium as the next patch. The enriched grass nourishes the young calves and gets them healthy for the great migration that is to follow. In other words, you could easily call this grass unique, right?
In business we rarely have this luxury of inbuilt uniqueness
Instead we have to go out and find our uniqueness, or create one. And this is where we seem to run into a lot of trouble. When we look at our products or services, they seem remarkably similar to what the competition is offering.
We too could do with a bit of phosphorus and calcium in our offerings, we believe. Contrary to what we think, we all have an incredibly powerful ability to distinguish ourselves from any competitors.
Yet, the moment we decide to work on our uniqueness, we paint ourselves into a corner
We don't know if we're supposed to find a uniqueness or create one. The pressure builds until we convince ourselves that the exercise of uniqueness is much too tedious, and it's better to use our energy in other areas of marketing and sales. Even as we're veering away from uniqueness, we realise that we pick products and services precisely for their uniqueness. Running away from the issue isn't going to help us move ahead. We have to turn and face it head on.
And here's how you do it. Let's cover three elements:
How do you go about finding uniqueness for your business/product/service?
Do different products/services need their own uniquenesses?
When you have settled on your uniqueness, how can you test it?
Element 1: How do you go about finding uniqueness for your business/product/service?
Back in 2003, we started a little membership site called 5000bc.
It wasn't meant to be a membership site, but so many clients wanted to discuss business issues that it made sense to have a site. At first, it had almost no content, and I spent a good few weeks putting in a dozen articles or so. It was the early 2000's, remember? I was able to get in touch with almost anyone on e-mail and get their permission to use their content. So I contacted billionaire, Mark Cuban, best-selling author and speaker, Wayne Dyer and other such personalities. And so, 5000bc began on its journey.
But 5000bc had no clearly-defined uniqueness
When you're starting out a business, it's hard just to figure out what you're doing. You're trying so hard to find yourself that finding the uniqueness for a product or service seems implausible, if not impossible. Nonetheless, over the years, as 5000bc grew, we went through the process of interior design. We'd add something here, something there and soon it became quite distinct in itself. Even so, we couldn't figure out what was unique.
This is the part where you turn to the outside world
We sent out a bunch of e-mails to clients and time, and time again they'd come up with the same response. They'd say something like this—and this is an actual quote: My favourite part about 5000bc is the character of the community. From knowing that you will personally answer my questions to knowing I can post my own answers without getting ridiculed is really nice.
I'm just getting started, but once my business is rolling, I will certainly pay it back to the community. I've never seen anyone put anyone else down in the Cave.
But then they might add something like this
I also like the depth of content. Before I came to 5000bc, I was very confused about the direction I want to go in for starting my business. Ever since joining 5000bc, and reading the content I've been getting a lot of clarity and confidence. I'm no longer running in circles, but moving towards my goals. I really appreciated the members sharing tips and comments on my post about “getting rid of negative thoughts”.
I also like that people hold you accountable to what you have entered in Taking Action Forum.
See the problem yet?
In that answer, there are several points, and seemingly none of them co-relate with each other. Let's go over them in bullet form:
– The character of the community (you can ask questions without getting ridiculed).
– The depth of the content that gives me confidence and clarity.
– Being held accountable.
But if a single e-mail gets three points, we already have three tangents, don't we?
If we were to poll everyone the list would be pretty exhaustive. We'd get a list that's akin to this:
– Kind, helpful community
– Restricted membership
– The philosophy ensures helpfulness
– Vanishing reports on various topics that may not be found elsewhere.
– The critique lounge
– The common language of The Brain Audit.
– The that me, Sean, is always around sometimes 15-20 times a day.
– That a question asked by clients may end up with a series of articles written especially for that client.
The list goes on and on and the longer the list, the bigger the uniqueness headache
Which is when you randomly pick one element from the list. In the case of 5000bc, enough clients mentioned that they sign up for a membership site and the owners of the site are never around. They just dump information but aren't around to clarify any queries and any such clarification has to be done at an additional price. We took that information—the fact that I'm around and answer the questions—as the uniqueness.
If that seemed like a logical uniqueness, it's not
The Vanishing Reports, for one, are extremely well-regarded. Clients consistently like the Vanishing Reports because they consider them to be yummy bites of knowledge, focused on a single topic. As a result, they don't overwhelm you, and as a member, you get it free of cost, until they disappear. Or you could take the fact that the philosophy of the community ensures that there's no trolling, no pitching of their own business, and introverts—especially introverts—feel very safe when asking questions.
Any of the elements in the list above could easily become the unique factor of 5000bc. And yet, the way to go about choosing a uniqueness is to only pick one—any one. And once you've picked you to need to elaborate why that uniqueness is so vital. It's the elaboration that makes it unique, not necessarily the element itself. Without the elaboration, nothing is unique, or rather everything is unique.
I call this concept the “Attenborough Effect.”
The “Attenborough Effect.”
A forest contains thousands of species of plants, animals and insects. To try and cover them all is plainly a waste of time. Which is why naturalist and TV presenter, David Attenborough, does something dramatic. In one particular video, he falls to the floor and focuses on a single plant: the Venus Fly Trap. The act of dropping to the forest floor is a moment of pure drama, but that's not what you should be getting your attention. Instead, notice that he's ignored all the rest of the plants, animals and insects.
All of them, but the Venus Fly Trap.
This is what I call the Attenborough Effect and it's also the lesson as to how you need to choose your own uniqueness
Your current business may do many things well, but trying to cover your own “forest floor” is a waste of time. Clients can't pay attention to many points at the same time. Even two points are far too many as you noticed when we used the 5000bc example. You couldn't have “helpful community” and “Vanishing Reports” at the same time.
A choice has to be made and while it may appear to you like the choice was very precise, it only seems that way because of the way in which it is presented. Walking around in the forest, the Venus Fly Trap may never get your attention, but by focusing the camera on one—to the exclusion of everything else—is how uniqueness is created.
However, all of this assumes that you already have a business, a product or service
And that's a dangerous assumption to make for a specific reason. All of us, without exception, will have new products or services in future. And as we'll learn in the second section of this piece, every one of the products or services will need their own uniqueness. So how are we to create a uniqueness when we don't have the luxury of hindsight? The way forward is to create your uniqueness. The question that arises is “how do you do that?” How do you pick your uniqueness?
The answer lies in a concept we've covered many times before called a “superpower”
Let's say you're conducting a workshop to learn how to acquire “X-Ray vision”. When the clients walk into the room, what are they expecting to learn? And when they leave? The obvious answer is “X-Ray vision”, isn't it? Let's assume 5000bc didn't have Vanishing Reports. Wait, we're not assuming, are we, because 5000bc didn't have Vanishing Reports.
When we started out, we looked at other websites and there was no concept like Vanishing Reports. So we just invented it. However, let's say everyone suddenly decides to create Vanishing Reports. What are you going to do in such a situation?
You add a little bit of extra description to your offering.
Maybe your vanishing reports are “just 10 pages long.”
Maybe they're 50 pages, in-depth reports.
Maybe they're full of cartoons which are fun to read.
Maybe the report is not just a report but a stage by stage how-to document.
You see what's happening here?
You're deciding in advance what superpower you want to bestow upon your client. You are deciding you want to give them X-Ray vision, or vanishing reports, or specially organised groups. You can simply decide what you want to focus on and then go right ahead and invent your uniqueness. Every feature you see in a new phone model, new software, new product or service is merely an invention.
When sitting down to create your product or service, you will need to do some brainstorming
What features and benefits will it have? And the moment you make the list, you have a choice. Simply pick something that's interesting and elaborate upon it. If you've noticed, that's the second time, or possibly the third that the term “elaborate” has been brought up. We'll cover more about “elaboration” and what to elaborate as we work our way through this piece.
For now, either pick something like David Attenborough, or invent something you'd like to see in your product or service. And that will get the ball rolling. That is your first step on the road to creating uniqueness for your products and services.
Element 2: Does Every Product or Service Need Its Own Uniqueness?
When you look at any family on the planet, what you're actually seeing is an example of products and services
Let's take the eldest child. And let's suggest his uniqueness is that he's calm. Let's paint the second child as having a wild nature. The third may well have an inquisitive nature. If the family were to extend almost endlessly, every child in that family would have a different character, attribute or what we'd call uniqueness.
Therefore something similar applies to your family of products and services too. Yes, your company may have a unique character, but it's equally important for every product or service to have a uniqueness as well.
Let’s take an example. Let’s examine The Brain Audit, for instance.
Did The Brain Audit always have a uniqueness?
No, it didn’t. When we started, we had no uniqueness at all. Luckily we got over 800 testimonials, and that became the uniqueness. Now admittedly, once you have 800 testimonials, your product should stand out quite a bit, shouldn't it? And yes, the product will stand out, provided the format doesn't change in any way.
But The Brain Audit went from Version 1.0 to 2.0—and then to Version 3.2
And this is where the problem lies. If a customer has bought Version 1.0, why bother buying Version 2.0? Or for that matter Version 3.2.? And what if we were to bring out Version 4.0?
It's where uniqueness comes waltzing right through the door. Many, if not most of our clients have bought several versions of The Brain Audit. And the reason is simple: They can see why version differs from the next. And this difference is simply a factor of uniqueness.
When you define the uniqueness, you automatically get clients interested. And not just existing customers, but new ones as well.
It’s more than likely that the new clients haven't run into The Brain Audit
So for them the uniqueness is pitched against other books of a similar nature. Why should they spend their hard-earned money on this product vs. some other marketing-based product?
And that’s not all…
Let’s say we did put out a version of The Brain Audit on Amazon.com. And that price is just $9.99. And the product on the Psychotactics website is $119. What causes the client to buy the $119 version? Once again we have the uniqueness come into play. If a client gets a lot more on our website vs. what’s available on Amazon. Then there’s a point of difference.
When a thick, luscious layer of uniqueness is applied, price and reluctance retreat quickly
But you can’t just depend on the client to figure all of this out. So you have to clearly define the uniqueness. You have to be able to tell the difference between an iPhone 4 and an iPhone 4s. The Brain Audit Version 2.0 and The Brain Audit Version 3.2. The Amazon offering and the website offering. Because in reality, every product or every offering needs to really stand out from the “hoi-polloi” even if the “hoi-polloi” is just a different version of your very own product or service.
In short, every product and service needs a uniqueness
Just like a family member, every product or service is different. And even if you have the very same product, but in different formats or versions, you're still going to have to differentiate it so that clients know why they should buy one product over the other.