This is more of a “food for thought” post than one containing a solution…
My hospitality expert and friend Jeffrey Summers tossed out a phrase the other day regarding the “urgency of differentiation” – he was going to be discussing that topic on his restaurant podcast. I noticed it because we have been discussing this for a while here in the office… Lisa is always pushing us on “what makes us different?” and after having it roll around in my head without a full articulation, I randomly spit out some things that make us different on a phone call with her one day:
- We are not an “ad agency” because many of them are not strong in regard to social media culture (though they may be using social media push tactics) and they do traditional ad buys (we do not)
- We are not a “PR firm” because many of them don’t understand the social space and they do traditional PR whereas we do online-focused releases in relation to a specific campaign or event – we like to work with PR specialists, ideally, for larger reach
- We are not an “interactive agency” because they tend to do more motion-based design (we outsource what we can’t do in-house) and often don’t do marketing (which we do)
- We are not a “usability firm” as we are not singularly focused on product/web design or information architecture, though it is what we do when working on various types of projects and we have usability testing and lab-building experience
- We are not a product development company although we develop products – we would prefer to help design them, develop them ourselves or work with your in-house devs, create help systems, do user testing, PLUS work on the overall brand identity and marketing collateral in addition to helping lay a social foundation and do staff training on using social channels for customer service, and then do graphic design for presentations, tradeshows, etc. in a holistic, comprehensive effort to sell a new or redesigned product
- We are not a “marketing firm” exactly as we do design and development in-house and lean toward product design or enhancing sites with features/functionality
- We are definitely not a “social media agency” as we do design and development and have a long history of product and traditional marketing (and many social media agencies are brand, spanking new in this industry – in fact, frighteningly new)
We also have done business development, product line planning, visual merchandising, online events, ecommerce design and dev, research & analysis, copywriting, tech writing, user experience planning and testing, project management, tradeshow event design, speaking, and more as professional services since 1994. So today, we call ourselves as a “creative services” company for lack of a better short description.
But clearly that doesn’t really explain what sets us apart. Now that we see what we are not, determining how to explain what we are in a way that includes the differentiator will be something we will actively work on over the next month or two, because we do feel it’s important to define, and it is a needed facet of our overall brand experience and positioning.
How do you explain what makes your business different? And do you agree that there is an urgency of differentiation in today’s competitive, yet economically challenging climate?