The First Steps to Differentiate Your Business

Customers buy fast when they know you're the best

Read time: 4 minutes

Hey there - it’s Brian 👋

Imagine you’re sending weekly emails to your customers, and you’re deciding which email provider to use.

You open up one option and you can’t figure out what makes it better than the 7 other options you’re comparing. So you close the site.

That email provider just missed out on a sale!

So today, you’ll take your first steps to differentiate your business (to make it clear to customers why they should buy from you).

I’ve advised 30+ Fortune 500s on how to grow their business and adapted my differentiation method for founders and small business owners.

So here’s my simple framework to differentiate your business:

The basics to differentiate your business

In the past month I’ve received 27 calls from business owners and founders who struggle to get more customers. Turns out - it’s the same problem repeated:

Customer aren’t sure what makes their solution their best option.

So they don’t buy.

When customers don’t buy, cash gets tight and businesses die.

So let’s make your customers clear why your business is their best option. Here’s the goal:
• Find one customer
• One problem
• Your one solution to that problem
• How you’ll solve it better than anyone else

The answers to those 4 questions make up your differentiation. Then, you’ll communicate your differentiation to customers through different channels (3 examples):

In a later issue, I’ll show you how to message these channels - reply to this email with “message” and I’ll prioritize the topic!

So here’s how you clearly become your customer’s best option: 👇

1. Identify the customer (that you can serve better than anyone)

The hardest part about identifying your customer, is figuring out which groups you’ll divide them into.

There are two main ways you create your customer groups:

1) Needs

Create groups based on what the customers need done.

In this example, the customer needs to:
Send a weekly bulk email to potential customers to offer a digital product.

This is different than a customer who needs to:
• Send emails to friends
• Doesn’t send offers
• Sends daily emails

Find these needs by asking them these questions in customer interviews.

2) Descriptive

Create groups based on who the customer is.

• Where do they live? (city, country)
• Demographics? (age, gender, education)
• How do they behave? (spending habits, brand loyalty)
• How do they think? (social status, personality, political views)
• What type of business do they have? (revenue, # of employees, industry)

Look at your current customer base to find the patterns.

You can find the patterns by:
• Sending your customers surveys (use my customer survey as an example)
• See who engages with your content (here’s a previous post on getting insights from your content - jump to point #1)

To give you a real example, here’s how Amazon groups who their customers are.

You need to use both needs and descriptive traits

First: find the needs you can service better than anyone.
This will tell you why your customer wants to buy. Use the why to tweak your messaging so customers feel you understand them (and will buy more from you).

Then: look at the descriptive traits - look for patterns in who your customer is.
The descriptive traits help you reach them better (e.g., who you partner with, what channels to find customers in).

2. Find customer pain points

Psychologist, Daniel Kahneman discovered that people place a different emphasis on pain vs opportunities.

It’s called “Loss Aversion.”

Here’s an example:
Imagine you’re taking a risk and you could lose $1,000. You’ll fight hard to keep that $1k, right?

Now, to have that same level of motivation when it’s phrased as an opportunity - you’d need the chance to earn $2,000 to be just as motivated.

In other words, losses are TWICE as powerful to get people to act as gains.

So if you vividly message your customer’s pain to them and give them a solution to their pain, they’ll buy. Fast.

We need to deeply understand the context to the customer’s pain.
• Who they were with (& where they were) when they encountered the problem
• The problems with the ways they’ve tried to do to solve it
• What made it so hard

Here’s how:
Read complaints online
Ask through posting content
• Customer interviews (ask these questions)

Understand customer pain so well that customers feel like you’re going through their pain with them. They’ll trust your solution (and buy).

3. Find the options customers have to solve their problem (and how you’re different)

If you don’t understand the other ways customers could solve their pain, you can’t clearly be their best solution.

You need to know:
• What they use today
• How customers have tried to solve the problem
• Options you know about, but they haven't considered

You'll hear about the other options customers have in your interviews from the previous step (from questions #4 and #5 in the customer interview guide). You can also find them by researching blogs, review services (like G2), or asking ChatGPT.

Find the strengths of weaknesses of each alternative solution:
Now you have a list of alternatives. Your goal is to make sure the customer quickly understands how your solution is their best option. So that means we need to know the strengths/weaknesses of the alternatives.

Here's a few resources to help you find out:
• Competitor's websites
• Customer interviews
• Review websites
• Articles

Steal this simple template to plot your advantages/disadvantages against your customer’s other options.

4. Build your value (how you’re the best option for that customer type)

Now you build a message that makes it makes it clear what makes your the best option for your customer.

This is where we organize the answers we got in the previous 3 sections:
• What customer are you targeting?
• What pain does that customer have? What are their needs?
• What alternative solutions does your customer have?
How is your solution better for your target customer than any other option?

Then, we take each point that we found - and push it through to your customer communication channels:

As an example, here are a few ways you can show customers your value:
• Show testimonials from real customers (on how you solved their pain)
• Post a chart that show how you’re better than other options
• Show an image of your target customer
• Describe their pain (using their words)
• Show their dream outcome

That's a wrap!

See you next Thursday 👋



How to find your customer needs (from Harvard Business Review)
Learn the basics of ChatGPT (to find your customer’s other options)
How to break your customers into descriptive groups
How to ask customers questions (and not get misleading answers)