Four States Small Business Blog

Uncovering Your Difference Maker

Posted by Chuck Mefford on January 9, 2018 at 8:00 AM
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brandsformationThere are four parts to the BrandsFormation system that will help you turn your business into a brand that’s a household name in your community—the Four States area, or beyond: Strategy, Strategy-based messaging, Consistency, and Dominant Frequency. But the real heart of the BrandsFormation system is uncovering your “difference maker.”

I’m talking about what makes your business uniquely valuable to your current and prospective customers. Why should they shop with you? Why should they remember your brand? As a small business owner, especially for a local business, you may not have solid answers, but let me assure you, you need them.

Your Difference Maker and Your Brand

Put simply, branding is what makes your business instantly recognizable. If you heard, “So much is riding on your tires,” what would come to mind? What about, “I’m lovin’ it?” Michelin and McDonald’s have claimed some mental and emotional real estate in consumers’ minds — that’s the power of branding. It goes beyond a logo or a jingle, all the way to how your business will fulfill its promises.

If your brand is who your business is, your difference maker is why your business matters. It’s what gives your branding power and speaks to what your customer can expect to experience from your brand. It’s critical to understand what your difference maker is so you can ensure that your audience learns what it is through your marketing.

What a Difference Maker Looks Like

Let’s analyze two more companies to really see how the difference maker plays out in advertising. Identifying the difference makers for these brands will help you to see your own difference maker.


Computers and smartphones are ubiquitous, and most tech companies offer similar capabilities as their competitors. Apple is already one of the leading companies for technological development, but its advertising doesn’t focus on that. Sure, the ads contain that information, but what is it that Apple is saying that makes them different?

Apple focuses on an elevated experience. To encapsulate that feeling they came up with the slogan of “Think Different.” Apple wanted to build an emotional connection that went beyond having the top specs for the year. By talking to any Apple fan, you know Apple’s been incredibly successful at acquiring and retaining a loyal customer base who refuse to entertain the thought of using a PC or an Android. Often in ads, Apple focuses entirely on the experience of iPhone or Mac owners, and the products are positioned as improving their lives.


The financial and banking world is largely dominated by a few major entities, so a tech startup could have a hard time breaking into the market. After all, why would you use an app that’s different from your own bank?

Digit honed in on a unique need that wasn’t being met elsewhere: People wanted to save money, but weren’t remembering to transfer funds to savings accounts. It sought to provide a frictionless way to save that was accessible to normal families. The tagline in their marketing became “Saving money, without having to think about it.” This encapsulates what the customer wants to do, as well as the experience they can expect — a worry free process that ensures they save, even if they forget about it.

Tips to Identify Your Difference Maker

Now it’s time to turn your attention to your own business. Follow these tips to get some perspective and realize the role your business should play in the market:

  • Do market research. Don’t make assumptions about anything.
  • Study your competition. What needs are they meeting, and what do you offer that they don’t?
  • Study your customers. What do they want, and what experience are they looking for?
  • Outline your company values. Where do they align with your customers’ values, and does your competition appeal to that?
  • Outline your brand story. What are your virtues, and why do you run your business? What are you passionate about?
  • Consider your unique achievements. Are you the first to offer something locally, or are you offering the newest options in your industry? Have you won any awards?

Your difference maker is the heart of your business, and that means it should be the heart of your branding and advertising. It will be the first thing your prospective customers consider, so it needs to be the first thing you consider.

The BrandsFormation system offers a powerful way to leverage your difference maker throughout your marketing and make your business the first one customers think of. You can learn more here.

3 Step Formula for Small Business Marketing Success

Topics: BrandsFormation

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