One of the things most small business struggle with mightily is differentiation. And yet, it’s probably the number one factor in the success of one business over another.
If you can’t demonstrate how your business is significantly different than every other business that says it does what you do, you are doomed to compete on price.
Being different is the first step in building a business that people care about. In some cases, this step alone can allow you to create some distance from the pack of completion.
But, and here’s where it gets truly interesting, if you really want to carve out success you must also understand that it’s often not enough to simply be different. You’ve got to be different in a way that boldly addresses the greatest unmet needs of your market.
You’ve got to uncover a way to solve the problems that no one else is even talking about solving.
See, everyone in your industry is addressing the same problems, but what if they’re the wrong problems, or at least not the most pressing problems?
Think about you industry, your business, aren’t you simply trying to meet the same needs as everyone else? My guess is that even if you’ve come up with a powerful new way to package, price, deliver and differentiate your products and services, you’re still essentially attacking the same problems and challenges with the same proven approach as everyone else.
So let me ask you this. Do you know the number one unmet need in your marketplace? Do you understand the biggest problem your customers struggle with? Do you know the thing they can’t get anyone to solve? The answer they’ve looked high and low for? The topic no one seems to have any advice on? The question they would gladly pay to have answered?
The answers to those questions are where the true secret to marketing success resides.
Great copywriters, Internet marketers and AdWords experts get this. It’s how they push psychological hot buttons and find hungry niche markets already queued up to click on tiny ads buried deep in long tail searches.
But it’s also one of the most powerful ways to position an entire business and dominate an entire industry.
Remember, it’s not enough to simply be different; you’ve got to be different in a way that offers extreme value and solves problems people are ready to pay for.
Your research starts by sitting down with your customers or some segment of your market and asking some tough questions.
I’ve written about this numerous times, but often your customers know what you do that differentiates your more precisely than you do.
In addition to asking your clients what you do that’s unique, you’ve also got to start asking, probing and digging for unmet needs. You’ve got to try to figure out what they can’t get and how badly they want it.
The secret to success is to solve the problems nobody else is solving, even if you don’t yet know how to that.
Starting today, ask your customers some variation of the following five questions and start to look for patterns, unmet needs and opportunities to change how you approach your business.
Your unmet needs survey questions:
- What is the biggest challenge you are facing in your business?
- Why is it important that you find a solution to this challenge now?
- How hard have you worked to try to solve this challenge in the past?
- What about this challenge makes it so hard to solve or answer?
- How hard has it been to find an answer to your challenge?
Ultimately, you’re looking for patterns of unmet needs that people are motivated to solve, but have had a very difficult time finding solutions to.
I have to credit former psychologist turned Internet marketing Dr. Glenn Livingstone for the basis of these questions. Livingstone uses sophisticated research techniques to uncover problems people are desperately seeking answers to in order to create information products, AdWords tactics and sales copy that address these niche needs.
The approach, however, has powerful implications for any business. Every market has gaps of unmet needs and the business that figures these out, addresses and solves the hard problems that exist, can differentiate in ways that others won’t even consider.
This path is the surest route to success but it isn’t the easy route. The research you uncover from taking this approach seriously may greatly alter your business model, products, approach and positioning.
The secret to success in business is to differentiate. The secret to unparalleled success is to differentiate by solving the greatest unmet needs of a market.
If you liked this post, check out our Ultimate Guide to Small Business Marketing Strategy.