Every marketing person you ever work with will ask you, “What separates you from your competition? What makes you unique? Why would someone choose to buy from you instead of anyone else that offers a “similar” product?” What they are asking is: “What is your Unique Selling Proposition (USP), also known as a Core Differentiator.”
Knowing what makes you different is essential to pursuing those members of the market place that are really your prospects and customers and not wasting time and money on those that are not. It can also help keep you sane.
I have a client that is a fitness trainer. She has a program that is specifically for people that want to have fun when they work out. Work out and not feel like they just spent an hour with a fitness trainer, but instead, went out into the fresh air with some fellow seekers of sunshine, humor and physical movement. An hour of shared jokes and experiences while they were guided through movements that were interactive and challenging, resulting in reduced fat and inches, more flexibility and better cardio-vascular health.
These are a very specific group of people. These are not the people that want to go to a “military-style” bootcamp where they will be pushed to their furthest physical limits by someone yelling at them, and motivating them through high pressure. There are a large group of people who do seek this type of training because it works for them and they enjoy the results (and may or may not enjoy the process). Having said this, the “military-style” boot camp enthusiasts would probably not be enthusiastic for my client’s program either. Which is as it should be.
These are two fitness trainers offering similar results (assuming that both trainers are providing activities that will generate the results the participants are seeking, all training is ultimately dependent on the trainee, not the trainer – after all, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink). They have two completely different processes of delivering the results, so are they competitors? Some would say, “YES!” They are certainly in the same industry. But, at the end of the day, are the trying to appeal to the same client? Here, I would say, absolutely not.
My client has a very, very successful “military-style” bootcamp in her “backyard”. They are aggressively expanding and really doing well. Her friends call and inform her whenever they see another “win” for this fitness company, concern and anxiety in their voices. My client shared in that anxiety until I asked her some pointed questions:
1) Is your model successful for you? Is there a large enough and accessible local market of people that are qualified prospects for your type of training? “Yes, I have a core group of clients who have stayed with me for a very long time because they love getting the results of a difficult workout while enjoying the workouts themselves. I know there is a huge market for my style of program. I just need to market it more effectively.”
2) Would you like to change your model and offer a “military-style” bootcamp if you think there is more money to be made there? “No, I enjoy the program I offer and have so many participants that tell me they love it, too. They get great physical results because they stick with the program. This program is enjoyable and motivating to them making them want to come back and participate – it is something they look forward to. This is the program I believe in, makes me happy to deliver every day and am passionate about delivering.”
3) Do you think a “military-style” bootcamp would ever be successful in stealing away your customers? “No, they would not enjoy that program. Just not what motivates my clients.”
4) How can this competitor hurt your business? “They can’t really, as long as MY prospects know that I have a program for them. That they have a choice.”
5) Do you need to be anxious about them, then? “No, not really.”
6) Is there a chance you could actually help each other out? Maybe refer people to them that want “military-bootcamp” training and they refer people who find they want to try a different style fitness training program? “Possibly. I will explore that.”
After this conversation, my client was able to bring a new perspective to news of the “military-style” bootcamp’s success. Her anxiety declined and she was able to sleep better knowing that she was invested in her own program which appealed to a whole different market, and instead of focusing on her “competition,” she needed to focus on getting the word out about her own program. She also became aware of the opportunity to potentially cross refer with this “competitor” helping each of them grow their respective businesses by guiding prospects to the best match for what they were seeking. Huh, how about that?