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KRT Impact Blog

Differentiation and Standing out in a Crowd

Regardless of what industry you are in – one of the truths of business is that you are going to face competition. Today the barrier for entry in many sectors is quite low, and it is almost a certainty the amount and level of competition is going to steadily increase over time. In many sectors this factor has led to a lot of firms offering similar services and products that all target the same customer base. 

In this type of environment where an industry or sector has little natural differentiation in products or services – how can an organization stand out from the crowd and the competition? This environment I have described is also applicable to the Federal Information Technology sector where I have worked closely with many small to large contractors over the years.

I am going to share some tactics/thoughts that you can incorporate into your business strategies (Federal or not) that will help your firm stand out effectively from the crowd – and I am going to avoid the obvious utilization of price as a differentiator.

1. Don’t be a Me-Too!

There are literally hundreds of IT contractors trying to displace an incumbent vendor or convince a potential teaming partner to work with them. Offering the same services as your competition may not be enough to win in this situation – so what can you do?

Take time to figure out what are your unique strengths!

Your company may have some unique strength that you have never realized – maybe you have a software development team that has done some great and unique enterprise implementations, or perhaps experience in a next generation technology that the general marketplace hasn’t adopted yet. Take a step back and look at what you have done and what you can talk about proudly to set you apart!

If you take a look at your firm and you really can’t find something that differentiates you from a core business perspective (technology or otherwise) – think about investing in people with unique skills or unique technologies that fits within the strategic direction of your firm

2. Invest time to get to know people in your market

Another way to build differentiation is to make yourself a known quantity in your market. Tactics you can utilize to build your brand and brand recognition in your market include:

The idea behind this tactic is a very basic premise: if people are looking for services in your industry or market and there are many vendors that provide the same services. Typically people like working with a known quantity in these scenarios versus an organization they have no contact with or no concept of. If you have taken the time to meet the right people and decision makers, and get your brand awareness in your market – you will be that known quantity!

3. Get to know your Customer

An important factor in differentiation is actually taking the time to understand your customer. This can take both a strategic and a tactical approach.

Take time to define the market sector that you are going to cater to and then what factors are really important to that group. On a strategic level, rather than trying to compete for all of the business out there – take time to really go after a specific group of clients and build an understanding of what is important to them. By doing this you will be able to create a great market niche for your firm. As an example you could decide to cater to Non-Governmental Organizations and take time to build business with them and also build out solutions that take into consideration what factors are important to those types of organizations.

On a tactical level when you are getting ready to go after a specific customer or client – take the time to learn about what is really important to them. One of the constants I have heard over the years from many senior executives is that they don’t fundamentally care about the widget you are selling or how cutting edge it is. What really matters to them is how can your product or service better help them achieve their mission objectives. By focusing on the customer’s mission needs you will make an impression that most of your competition will not be able to match.

In Conclusion

I know much of what I stated above will be obvious to many people, but I wanted to put it down in writing because I have rarely run into firms that effectively utilize all of the tactics I shared above.

In an increasingly competitive market, I really believe it is important to do whatever you can to stand out from the crowd. The tactics/thoughts I shared are relatively low investments for many firms that will lead to great results!

Do you agree or not? We would love to hear your feedback please contact us!