Why “Great Service” Is not a Winning Differentiator

It’s not easy to arrive at authentic strategic differentiation, which is what a good messaging strategy should provide. Many viable businesses, including startups, professional services companies and mid and large sized organizations struggle to correctly and strategically identify their uniqueness to their audiences.

How is one engineering firm different from another operating in the same space? How is a particular kind of SaaS distinct and better than its competitors? What does a tech startup deliver that others don’t?

When the going gets tough in strategic differentiation, companies too often resort to the claim of superior service.  “What makes us different is our service”.  “We really care.” When I hear that from a client, I know it’s time to dig deeper. Not because it’s not true, but because it’s not a great message to invest in.

Most of us expect good service as a given. If we don’t get it, we’re going elsewhere anyway. So your service would have to be so mind-blowingly good that it stands out from the crowd. Also, it’s really hard to actually own that position in your audience’s mind. Anybody can claim to provide good service. So then you have to be the big gorilla on the block who wins by the sheer volume of noise you can afford to make.

The reality is that brands that lean too hard on service as a differentiator are probably on the right path, they just haven’t gone far enough. The answer may very well be not in what they do, but in how they do it. The key is to define that how beyond great service into a message that is tangible and meaningful enough to impact your audiences and earn their engagement and loyalty.

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