Don’t Spend Another Dollar on Marketing Until You Answer this Question


If the title of this blog grabbed your eye, you’re probably thinking “this is a first — a marketing agency telling me not to spend more money.”

But I stand by that statement.

The biggest budget, the sexiest creative, and the most aggressive tactics in the world will fall short unless you have an answer to one simple question: How Am I Different?

When we ask that question to prospective clients for the first time, we hear a lot of the same answers.  Things like:

  • We have great people
  • We’ve been in business since 1963
  • It’s the service

Or my personal favorite: “We’re big enough to serve you, small enough to care.”

But none of those things really sound very different — even if they were true.  Does anyone say they have second rate talent?  Or about average service?  And about that business that was founded in 1962… does that extra leg of tenure really give them a leg up on you?

Finding What Makes You the One and Only

Differentiation is hard stuff.  And it’s not something that can just be decided in a board room.

When we help a company zero in on what makes them unique, we usually recommend starting with a brand audit to understand the sentiment of the marketplace toward that company. We ask a firm’s clients, prospects, and employees things like:

  • When I say “XYZ Co.” what is the first word that comes to mind?
  • When I say [insert competitor’s name] what comes to mind?
  • List three to five things that make XYZ Co. a great company to work with.
  • What does XYZ Co. do better than anybody else in the industry?
  • What do other companies do better than XYZ Co.?
  • Complete this sentence — XYZ Co. is the company that ________________.

This exercise is a little bit like panning for gold.  We hear a lot of things that are good, but we’re hunting for something that’s really different.

When you’ve found it, you know it