I was walking through the main shopping area of our county town the other day and I could not help thinking it looked just like the main drag of every other large town I have been to recently. Even if I did not know them, it would be possible to guess which stores lined the street because they are all parts of large chains and multi-nationals. That goes for both the retailers and the coffee shops.
There are of course certain chains we might rely on for particular products such as our underwear, but the reality is that there is no variety of choice. Without real diversity in the product or service there is far less attraction to the customer looking for specific features.
Selling the same old…
It is the same with professional firms such as accountants or solicitors. I would always go with a recommendation because how else does one distinguish between them when they all appear to be the same? How do we know in what areas of expertise they particularly excel?
If we go to many accountants’ websites they say things like “we specialise in audits, accounts production, self assessment tax return processing, and management accounts and cash flow management.”
Well, firstly, they do not specialise in the services offered since they offer many. They may have specialists in each area of course. Secondly, talking about “processing” does not sound like much of a personal or individual service, does it?
Nowhere do many say what they do for the client, and how much better the customer will feel having the weight taken off their shoulders.
Your brand is the difference
The accountants do not appear to have a distinguishable brand. We do not know what they stand for. The big stores have some sort of brand, but few large companies have a personal brand. There are exceptions. Richard Branson is the face of Virgin. Anita Roddick gave her personal brand to Body Shop through her own ethics and campaigning.
You can do that too, by creating an individual brand around yourself, with a reputation for the very best and most different service to others in the market. If you have a unique product, sell it. If you make the finest shortbreads which could not be confused with other people’s shortbreads, sell that feature and the satisfaction it will give the purchaser. If your offer is the very best bespoke service anyone could expect, sell that and your personality along with it.
Small businesses do best by being different and when they grow into Virgin they still do best by being different. Try it and see if I am not right. Don’t you agree?