Can You See It?

I like asking business owners about their visions and what makes their companies better than their competition. Competitive advantage can only come from positive differentiation, so you can learn a lot from the way an owner describes his edge.

Too often, the owner will offer a canned set of platitudes that could apply to any company anywhere. As soon as they start talking about exceeding expectations, creating partnerships and providing solutions, I know they’ve missed the point.  They’ve opted to sound like everyone by using the generic marketing language. It’s an absolute waste of time and dollars.

So I was encouraged by the response from one owner at a recent exhibition. Offering technology services, he said his company excelled at anticipating problems and addressing them with customers in advance. Not bad. If I’m a client, I’d appreciate a fast response when the network is down, but I’d like it even more if the network didn’t crash at all.

Intrigued, I checked out the marketing materials at his display, including his website, and….his competitive edge was not mentioned anywhere. As a result, the face of his company looked pretty much like the image of every competitor in the hall. The factor that might separate him from the pack was clear to him, but he wasn’t making it clear to his audience.

Vision is a powerful driver, but there is no impact until that vision is recognized and valued by the audience. Too often, the guys at the top sign off on a program, but never check into the results. (Pretty much everyone reading this thinks I’m talking about somebody else. Right.)

Just for giggles, try this test.

  1. Ask someone to cut and paste text from your website, or your brochure, along with text from your competitors’ offerings.
  2. With brand names or other identifiers removed, try to separate your text from the others.
  3. When—if—you’ve identified your own text, does it make you excited about your company or does it sound like Mediocrity, Inc?

If you review your public face and you can’t find your vision, you’d be very safe in concluding that customers and prospects won’t find it, either. After all, you knew what to look for, but they don’t have a clue.


 As always, we’re happy to discuss any of the points raised in this and other posts, and to help you benefit from increased focus on the matters that matter. Reach us by emailing or calling 312 582 4470.