Associated the delivery of quality as a source of sales (and customer loyalty), is differentiation or being unique. Among the questions most frequently asked of small firms are: “What’s so special about your business?”, “Are you different from your competitors?” , “How are you better?” , “Exactly how?” and “Tell me why I should buy from you”.
Being unique (i.e. different from the mass of competitors, other products and services in your industry) is vital. Being stuck in the middle, unable to be recognised as different (i.e. better), makes you ‘a nothing’, anonymous and therefore irrelevant to buyers. You need to ask yourself (and your customers) whether you are seen as different. If not, why? Buyers are increasingly being overwhelmed by choices, and those firms, products and services which stand out as distinctive (i.e. distinctively superior) have a clear advantage in attracting buyer interest over those which lack differentiation, so long as they deliver quality.
What do your customers think of you?” … of your products? … your service? Can you describe in 25 words or less how your business is unique? How is it different from your competitors? Would your customers agree?
Uniqueness can only be achieved by differentiation, and this can only come from innovation. Innovation means doing new things – developing new and better (i.e. improved) products and services and better methods and processes (which will reduce costs and/or produce better products and services). All innovation starts with creative ideas and much of it starts with invention. Innovation is the process of commercialising ideas and inventions – either into use or into the market place. The failure rate in new product development is over 95%.
To encourage innovation you must expect it and go through the growing pains, rewarding initiative, invest resources to get it, search for ways to prevent problems rather than just fixing them, and actively look for any way and anything to change and improve. Be alert for any opportunity to improve anything and everything you do and how you do it. Many small changes and improvements can lead to substantial improvement in a short space of time