Everyone wants a successful brand. But without knowing what you stand for, how will you get closer to achieving your goals?
No successful business can be built without product differentiation and strong positioning. When you focus on providing a clear point of difference, you’re taking steps to ensure strong brand equity and the promise you make to your customers.
But in order to stand out from the crowd you need to choose the right niche market in your customers’ minds in order to promote your brand over and above your competitors. It’s showing what you want to achieve for your customers and what it means to them.
By establishing a key point of difference as part of an effective brand positioning strategy will help you connect in a way that turns the consumer benefit into a compelling call-to-action.
So if you’re a travel agent or business owner and you’re at that point where you need to further define your key point of difference, then we need to focus on three main areas to help you secure a competitive advantage:
1. What have I got to help you?
This is your chance to help your customers solve their problem. The statement encompasses a few more questions such as: What’s you product or service? Who will want it? How will it help them?
The best way to approach this is by summing it up it up as a one-sentence proposition. Here’s an example:
“Provide popular ‘hard’ adventure sports to New Zealand for thrill seekers wanting the personal touch without the budget constraint of typical travellers.”
Please note, the wording here is not used literally in any advertising, but reflects your target market and how you want to position your brand. On the other hand, a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is synonymous with your key point of difference, but is typically used in advertising campaigns targeted to the customer to convince them to switch brands.
A good example of a product with a clear USP is: M&M’s: “Melts in your mouth, not in your hand”
Now before you expand on this too much, jump into question 2.
2. What will it do for you?
This is where you talk about the benefits of your product or service and emphasise why your prospects need to take action.
You want to describe the positive outcome once the prospect has completed their travel experience.
“You’ll come away knowing that you have achieved climbing the highest mountain in Africa, together with your own trip journal and stunning photographs to remember the experience”.
Focus on getting the benefits right!
One of the most repeated rules for selling your product or service effectively is to stress the benefits, not the features. The best way to do this is to identify the key benefit for each feature that a product or service provides to the prospect, because essentially this is what will drive them to purchase.
A good step-by-step process to do this is outlined below;
- Make a list of every feature of your travel product or service
- Then ask why each feature has been included in the first place
- Finally, how would these features connect with the prospects desires at an emotional level?
Let’s apply this to a travel agent trying to sell a Country Spa Retreat Package
Product Feature: Country Spa Retreat
In this instance, a feature is an element of the product. E.g. It could be a room with a balcony, a 1-hour full-body massage, or a “breakfast and 3-course dinner” as part of a travel package. Combining many features is the result of satisfying the needs of your customers as one complete travel experience.
Why has this product been chosen for the prospect?
The spa retreat is positioned away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The massage services and the dining experience have been incorporated into the package to provide relaxation activities and to fulfil the prospects needs, for one all-inclusive price.
What’s in it for them?
The spa package removes the person from their daily work routine and allows them to indulge in some pampering experiences. Plus they don’t have to worry about where they will eat, or how much it will cost them, with the remainder of the day being completely free to do anything at their leisure.
What is your emotional hook?
The travel package aims to reduce Work-Life Stress while revitalising the mind and body
Hence, by following these questions gives you a greater sense of what your customers needs are, and how you can develop products and services that will help differentiate your business in the market.
How are you different to the competition?
Offering something different to the competition in ways that are meaningful to your customer is vital for your success.
Your key point of different must be totally unique. This could be a uniqueness of your travel brand and the services you provide, or a product that is exclusive to your business and cannot be easily copied.
My client, Boronia Travel Centre specialises in battlefield tours, and is the “official travel agent’ to the Australian War Memorial. This provides a remarkable competitive edge. To add to this further, their tours are also designed by the war memorial’s historians and curators, which adds further credibility and product differentiation.
Your point of difference could even be something that your competitors are not adequately addressing, which you could deliver. To make it easier, just look at your top three competitors and examine your business strengths and weaknesses in contrast to your own business.
A very simple example might be that you’re the only travel agent that offers a limousine transfer to the airport, and includes a glass of champagne.
If you have been able to answer all of these questions, you should be able to choose one key feature and its benefit to give you a key point of difference. Or perhaps it is a few features and their associated benefits combined that make your travel product a truly unique experience.
The key is to have all the key features and benefits that directly link with your customers desires and actively engages them at an emotional level, giving them less reason to switch to another brand.
Remember that you do not have to identify your key point of difference by yourself. If you have friends, business partners, wholesale suppliers or agencies that can assist you develop your point of difference over time, then you will really start to impact your customers, turning them into loyal advocates.
I should also note, that defining your point of difference is only a part of your overall brand positioning strategy. In order to bring your brand to life you need to use vibrant images, creative words and innovative packaging that encompasses both the functional and emotional benefits that will get your prospects to respond. To find out more about brand positioning and establishing your point of difference, why not contact us today for a free, no obligation consultation.