Every market today is a busy, crowded, competitive market. In the industrial sector, many companies offer similar products, components and services. The quest to stand out from the crowd and differentiate from your competitors is a difficult challenge, but once overcome will help you gain a stronger, more recognizable position in the market.

Here are five tips to help you create differentiation, and distance, from your competitors:

Differentiating your company from competitors is not easy but will help your position in the marketplace.
Differentiating your company from competitors is not easy but will help your position in the marketplace.

1. Know your enemy

This saying, taken from Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, may be on the dramatic side, but for industrial companies it means that in order to differentiate from your competitors you must first study and know them. What are their strengths and weaknesses? How do they position their company and offerings? What promises do they make in their marketing? How are they perceived in the industry?
Getting answers to these questions allows you to focus on how you are different and what you do better than your competitors. You need to find those key attributes that set you apart.

2. Stick to your mission statement and core values

The relationship between companies and mission statements can take one of three forms: 1) the company doesn’t believe in mission statements, perhaps thinking they’re a waste of time; 2) the company takes the time to craft a mission statement but then basically ignores it; or 3) the company takes its mission statement seriously, putting energy and resources into understanding the organization’s purpose and core values, what it hopes to achieve, and how to achieve it.

Be that third company. A solid mission statement can help focus your company, provide a framework for evaluating whether opportunities fit your business model and strategy, establish your brand, and give your employees core values to embrace.

A mission statement should be short, simple and specific. Avoid industry buzzwords. Avoid saying what any other company might say, and instead focus on what’s unique and special about your company. If you don’t already have a mission statement and need inspiration, visit the websites of the companies you admire most (industrial, b-to-b, consumer or otherwise) and check out how they have positioned their businesses.

3. Be innovative

A sure way to separate your company from your competitors is to do something innovative. It may be on the product side—being first to market with a new technology or product is a huge differentiator. But there are other ways to be innovative. You could make a name for your company by implementing innovative customer service, warranty or replacement policies that are unique in your industry. You can open a “virtual university” to share technical expertise with the customers, the market or even engineering students. You can be the company that sponsors an online discussion forum for engineers.

4. Tell a compelling story

Every company has a unique and compelling story to tell. What’s yours? Started by a couple of engineers in a garage? Successful merger of two unlikely marriage partners? Built from the ground up by a visionary who identified an unmet customer need? More and more these days, customers are digging deeper into a company’s history before choosing to do business with it. They’re looking for a company with a strong pedigree and satisfied customers. A company they can trust. A company that has that extra something special. Your company does have that extra something that your competitors don’t. Find out what it is. Tell your story. Publish it on your website. Include it in communications.

5. Reinforce though marketing

You know what makes your company unique and different from your competitors. Now you need to repeat and reinforce that message in your marketing efforts. Extract those couple of words or compelling messages and repeat them through social media, content marketing, e-newsletters, banner ads, boilerplates, webinars, and other forms of marketing. Do this often enough, do it right, and back it up, and you will become known as the company that offers the highest quality products, the fastest delivery of custom orders, or best customer support. Or the company with the greatest technical expertise, the most creative problem solvers, the most experienced consultants . . . or whatever differentiates you from competitors and secures your unique position in the market.

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How has your company differentiated itself from its competitors? What advice would you give to your peers in industrial marketing? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Photo credit: pasukaru76 / Foter / CC BY

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