A fresh look at market differentiation (and its importance for architectural, engineering and construction marketing)

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differentiation
Differentiation is vital -- and this marketing agency's blog posting explains why
differentiation
Differentiation is vital — and this marketing agency’s blog posting explains why

Kat Casebolt, who describes herself  as “The Brand Constructors Office Mom & Manager” in the construction marketing agency’s blog, takes on a topic that probably receives far less attention than it should among architectural, engineering and construction company owners and managers — one of the most important cornerstones of marketing success: If you don’t know your differentiation, then you’re already dead.

“Differentiation” — defining the unique qualities of your business as they relate to your current and potential market — is a prerequisite for marketing and business success. Unless you can achieve uniqueness in a positive sense, you won’t stand out from the crowd enough to win attention and any real competitive environment.(And if you think “differentiation” means “I can be the lowest bidder” you’ll quickly race to the bottom. If you truly are able to provide the lowest cost service that meets requirements, this may be a valid differentiator, but think of your profitability if you could both constrain your costs AND offer enough unique non-cost distinctiveness to potential clients.)

Casebolt uses some words that, unfortunately, get distorted into clichés, specifically “Vision, Value, People, Experience.” However, she rightfully observes that “these are the unique elements that make up the overall differentiation of your brand.”  She adds:

Just as no two individuals are the same, neither are two construction companies, even if they are selling the same product or service. Some construction company owners have business developers and marketers that work to recognize their company differentiation and find ways to market it, while others need assistance in discovering and utilizing those defining key points. Either way, for a construction company to survive in today’s highly competitive market, they must first understand their own unique differences and how to use those to their advantage.

STAND OUT – Do something no one else is doing. When everyone else is thinking square signs, you should be thinking round.

GET INVOLVED – Take part in a local initiative. Get out of the office. Taking an active role in your business community is the best free advertising you’ll ever get.

DO WHAT YOU LOVE – Don’t take jobs just for the money; do what you are excited about, and your brand will outshine the others because it is genuine.

“Be different so that people can see you clearly amongst the crowds.” — Mehmet Murat ildan

Your differentiation review/decisions should go before any other marketing initiative, advertising strategy, webpage design or RFP response. If you really cannot stand out from the crowd (among the clients you currently and wish to serve) you won’t get very far at all in your marketing.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Mark, Thanks for citing my post and continuing the discussion. You made some good points here that I will use. Although we often discourage low bid mentality, your point on low-bid sometimes being a valid differentiator was important to make. A company who has the ability to both low-bid and bring value to their clients will quickly race to the top.

    I so agree about “cliche” words – so overused that they more or less get “lost in translation.” When I’m writing, I will often use definitions and search out other words or descriptions hoping to cause the reader to pause long enough to really absorb what I’m trying to share.

    I would love to know some of your suggestions and thoughts as a writer in the techniques you use to get around the “mindless” reader syndrome.

    • I think good words can become buzzwords and cliches when used without thought, but the words don’t become “less good” as a result. The cliches occur when companies use phrases like: “We offer a great customer experience” — words that are an assertion, but can only be proven by action.

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