In marketing, the key to success is a unique point of differentiation conveyed as a clear, consistent, sticky brand message. Any brand that can become synonymous with its unique market position has real potential to become the brand leader, forcing all other brands in the same space to find other ways to differentiate themselves. Brands that cannot communicate a unique value proposition risk languishing in the sea of sameness.
Differentiation is the process of identifying, amplifying and communicating what makes you different.
– Jack Trout and Steve Rivkin
In the highly competitive world of healthcare marketing, you should be asking: How do we differentiate our brand and drive consumer choice and preference? How do we offer something no one else can match? How do we find what we do better than anyone else and own that space? How do we showcase what makes us unique?
All good questions—and the answers are your ticket to avoiding that sea of sameness. I can tell you from years of experience, however, that the right answers rarely involve quality, access or service. Everyone offers those. As authors Jack Trout and Steve Rivkin explained in their 2008 book, Differentiate or Die: Survival in Our Era of Killer Competition, only a handful of approaches will truly differentiate your brand. To find your true north—your clearly lit pathway to brand success—start with the simple survey tool provided below, which is inspired by the lessons of Trout and Rivkin:
|Owning a core attribute||Often distilled to a single word or short phrase, when a brand owns a unique selling feature or service benefit that resonates with consumers, the result is effective brand differentiation.||What one word or short phase defines your brand and only your brand?|
|Leadership (being the best at something)||Being number one is certainly effective at establishing a unique market position. By our very nature, people tend to follow leaders and want to be affiliated with success.||Can you identify a category within your industry where you are number one?|
|Heritage||In the mind of the consumer, longevity in market equates to trustworthy experience.||Have you served your industry for many years and/or longer than your competitor(s)?|
|Market specialization||To specialize in something, you must be really good at it compared to those who are generalists. Therefore, specialists are perceived as experts in their field.||Are you an expert in something because you do one thing, and do it better than anyone else?|
|Preference||Awards and high performance rankings imply quality and leadership in the brand category.||Are you the most preferred brand by consumers in your market?|
|Hotness||Volume growth (not product or service expansion) is seen as a differentiator. When a brand is the hottest thing going, everyone wants to be part of it.||Is your brand on a growth trajectory due to word of mouth marketing?|
Let’s assume you could answer at least one of the questions in the affirmative. Your next important query is this: can that opportunity become the point of differentiation that sets your brand apart from all others in the market? In other words, can you own it and consistently deliver on it?The secret to giving your healthcare brand a long and healthy life? Discover your differentiators: Click To Tweet
At Dobies Healthcare Group, our own differentiators include specialization (strategic marketing and branding for healthcare companies) and heritage (our 26+ year legacy of creating healthier brands). As such, we help healthcare organizations of all types and sizes discover what sets them apart, and then build their brands around those unique attributes. We also guide and support our clients through the strategies necessary to ensure that every person at the organization knows what the brand differentiator is, and how to make it authentic by delivering on the associated brand promise every day.
As you begin your journey to brand differentiation, keep in mind the process is logical rather than creative. The time to focus on external communications comes later, after you’ve built a strong foundation through strategy. Once you have strategically identified and solidified your differentiator, tell the world about it. The alternative for your brand, as Trout and Rivkin say, is to die.
Reader tip: For more on how to differentiate, consider reading or re-reading this classic: Differentiate or Die: Survival in Our Era of Killer Competition, by Jack Trout and Steve Rivkin (originally released in 2001 with a second edition in 2008). In the book, Trout and Rivkin offer real-world examples and special insight to explain the process of achieving differentiation for a long-term competitive edge.
About the Author
Julie Amor, President and Chief Strategy Officer for Dobies Healthcare Group, has 30 years of experience elevating healthcare brands. Share your thoughts with her by tweeting @DobiesGroup, connecting with us on LinkedIn, or by commenting on our Facebook page.