Closing “The Differentiation Gap” Is More Important Than Ever

Even as the economy buzzes along for most Americans, I’ve been pretty interested in following some of the statistics that say a lot of these boom times isn’t trickling down to the average worker. 

In fact, I’ve seen tons of statistics that paint a pretty grim picture for workers. 

Which got me going back over the ideas that I have been working on in terms of “The Differentiation Gap.” 

Let me define “The Differentiation Gap” for you as this: “The Differentiation Gap” is the difference between how you view yourself, your skills, and your value and how the market views you. 

A wide difference means that you are a commodity and that you are likely constantly fighting the battle of winning business based on cost. 

If you are truly differentiated, you have the opportunity to charge a premium. You are a one of a kind provider.

Tom Peter’s talked about “The Brand Called You” years ago, stating that we all needed to work to be brands and to stand out to our markets. 

The statistics as far as wage stagnation in an expanding economy point more firmly to what Tom called a necessity 20 years ago being life or death today. 

The thing about this is that even if you are in a big company, you can differentiate yourself and if you are a solo or small business leader, it is an absolute necessity now. 

Here are a few ways that you can do just that:

Focus on outcomes: 

Outcomes are about change. 

While change can be good or bad, in differentiating yourself, you need to focus on the good stuff and not the bad stuff.

Take me for example, I talk about creating high impact strategies for my clients that help them enter new markets and overcome inertia in old ones. 

You may lessen sales time, grow a pipeline, or some other thing. 

The key is that you have to focus on how this applies to your prospects’ and clients’ bottom line. 

Features are commodities.

Impact is differentiation. 

Don’t be afraid to say, “We aren’t for you”:

All great brands do as much to eliminate potential customers as they do attracting certain customers. 

This is the heart of every brand, a story. 

“People like us…”

Buy from companies or people like this. 

The flip side is that people like us don’t buy from places like this as well. 

In today’s market, I see far too many companies that are suffering lower than expected or likely sales due to the fact that they are just unwilling to make a line in the sand and say:

“Here’s our value.”

“This is our customer.”

“Here’s what we charge.” 

To do this, you have to be willing to say that we aren’t for you. And, not flinch.

Saying no is about differentiation. 


Here is the key idea that should live in your head as you market and sell yourself:

If you aren’t growing, you are declining. 

Your brand and the value you bring to the market should be constantly changing. There isn’t any other way to say it. 

This means that the evolution of your brand has to be at the heart of a lot of your marketing decisions. 

Not in the way that your brand will look different or that you will have some new advertising campaigns, but in the purest way of how can you create more value today than you did yesterday. 

Constant growth is differentiation. 

These three things aren’t magic bullets either, but without them…I’m pretty sure you aren’t going to have a chance at standing out. 


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