March 05, 2015

What's your Points of Difference?

I often run into women who started online businesses selling something that they are making.

Be it jewelry, or scarves, or home goods -- they start the business as a hobby, then it starts to grow into a business.

The challenge with starting a business this way is often the whole process of defining your purpose, your vision, and mostly importantly your brand's value proposition is often missed.

The business started with the product-- with the craft. 

It then becomes a process of reverse-engineering your brand into this once you start to see sales level out at about $5k a month.

For some reason, $3-5k seems to be the level out for crafty-brands that don't have strong point of difference.

You have customers (some), maybe some repeat customers (but not lots), and get most of your customers from one singular channel.

It's not to late to refine your brand and take your business to the next stage. This is the exact work I've done with my clients, and I've seen them not only grow but SOAR.

What is a Point of Difference?

According to Wikipedia, "Differentiation is the term given to the positive way in which a company's product differs from its competitors. Points of difference(PODs) describe the individual factors of differentiation"

The Points of Difference (PODs) are then the specific attributes of your brand that differ from your competitors.

These are the attributes that feed into your USP (Unique Selling Proposition).

The PODs are things that consumers need to believe that they cannot find in other brands. 

What's your Point of Difference?

Anyone that tells you that you shouldn't care about your competition is full of it. 

It's an empowering statement to say... competition doesn't matter but in reality, your consumers are likely comparing you to some other brand whether or not you like it. 

Wouldn't you rather know who that is, so you can understand how to out sell, out brand, and outlast that other brand?

For example, my company is often compared to Lululemon in some aspects. I don't want my brand, Encircled to be like Lululemon (well, I wouldn't mind owning a billion dollar business), but I want to build a unique, sustainable, and memorable brand.

You don't do that by copying, or cloning.

So, I do an easy exercise where I gather up the other brands in my customer's consideration set, and I put them in a grid, and start to list off the ways in which we are similar (point of parity or POPs) and ways we are different (points of difference).

I then evaluate -- does this make sense?

For example, one thing I've been debating with Encircled is why I'm line-priced (and sometimes underpriced) with Lululemon. I use better materials, and ethical manufacturing that's local, and my designs are unique. 

These are the types of questions that should come up when doing this exercise.

You then take all of these PODs, and POPs, and condense them into a brand value proposition statement.

This isn't an easy part but I have some previous blog posts that may help you, here, here and here.

Wishing you much abundance + retail bliss,

Principal Retail Consultant/Founder