The other day I was discussing marketing differentiators with a client. The company is a professional services provider, and wants to separate itself from the pack of other, similar-but-different businesses that are in its competitive arena.
All the companies in its niche offer many of the same services, and after mulling things over for a while, I stopped the conversation, and asked my client, point-blank:
What’s your kilt?
< crickets > Huh?
You see, there is a window-washing company here in town—one of many, I might add—and they are absolutely swamped with business compared to their competitors. Why? Because every single one of their employees is a man who comes to work each day in a kilt.
Yes, a kilt. A man-skirt. Under which they may or may not be going commando—you just never know.
Now, because there’s not a lot of innovation in window-washing science, the company decided to re-jigger its marketing to focus less on ‘the what’ (getting the crap off your windows) and more on ‘the how’ (hot guys in kilts who get the crap off your windows while you are watching them with a tiny river of drool running out of the corner of your mouth. . .).
Oops. Almost digressed there.
The point is, the window-washing company, my clients, and anyone in business today really needs to figure out what their kilt is in order to stand out in the crowd. Who’s doing this well?
- The coffee house with baristas who create beautiful art on top of your latte through the skillful pouring of hot milk
- The big-city sandwich shop that delivers to suburban neighborhoods fast, and by bike
- The gym that offers Saturday morning yoga classes for people—and their dogs
So when you’re thinking about how to rise above the noise of a crowded competitive landscape, forget about ‘the what’, think about ‘the how’, and slip on a little o’ the plaid if you need extra inspiration.
But stay away from gusty winds.