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  • Chris Holscher

What makes a differentiator

What makes a differentiator? Surprise: In most cases it is not really our service, features, capabilities, or even price point... For most companies there is a much better way to think of it.


We're all proud of our solutions, services, capabilities, features, etc. And rightfully so! We put all our energy, enthusiasm, expertise into developing them.

But who are we doing this for? We do it for our customers.

And from their viewpoint our INPUT does not make a differentiator. Input factors are relatively easy to catch-up, often they are less risk to copy, or simply quick to buy and implement, too.

A differentiator is really not about us. A differentiator is based on the difference that we’re able to make on behalf of our customers.

The needle that we move. The impact that we're making.

For them.

And it’s only real in combination with our ability to measure, articulate, demonstrate and systematically repeat it in a quality assured way.

That's what really makes a differentiator.

But it is easier said than done. Identifying and writing down a true differentiator is hard work. Which is good because that also means it's a lot harder to copy than a feature or a capability, etc.

It also means we don’t need to be the only ones on the planet to „have“ that feature or capability - because what differentiates us is our proven ability to bring it to life in a specific customer context.

That’s what makes customers decide for us.

So, next time when challenged to name our differentiators, rather than nervously brainstorming for vague commonplaces, we have the opportunity to truly impress with a concrete statement that’s relevant, specific, exemplified - because it is exactly what we’ve been carving out over years already - because it exemplifies our company's reason of existence.

This is just one key lesson that I learned in analyst relations over the years. How it makes more sense to explain your business to the analyst community. Commonplaces may fill a slide but they do more harm than help. This kind of business understanding / or the lack thereof informs the analyst if a company knows what they are doing.

I apply this constantly with my clients. Hard work, definitely, but very rewarding, too.

#knowhow

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