As with any business in a competitive industry, we are constantly asked – “why are you different”? We are, after all, a design agency and digital marketing consultancy, and here are many others who have been labelled the same.
It’s our people, culture, and our values that draws people towards us (though they may not consciously define it as such)
However, because this is true for all businesses, this is actually what makes us the same as other businesses!
Small businesses like ours need to look at other examples, big and small can learn from them.
And while we can be inspired by other businesses stories and successes, we also need to find out what makes us unique, different. What makes us – us!
One famous example of a business doing things differently is Southwest Airlines. Their differentiating factors (beyond people and service) that have been the key to their success.
- They only types of planes they have are 737
- 25min turnaround
- The get their cabin crew to clean plane
- common set of parts
- only one type of pilot to train
- point to point flights no hubs
How do you apply this to yourselves?
This is a challenging exercise – when you are running a small business, and your competitors seem to be saying all the same things about themselves.
But in a competitive market, this is a serious exercise – the identification of key messages is something I include as a cornerstone of all my content marketing work with clients.
I have learned that it’s not enough just being extra nice or even giving a great service – its about how you EXECUTE your service differently – like Southwest Airlines.
5 steps to enhancing your differentiators
- Identify what you execute differently
- List these
- Explain what each element means
- Make sure you communicate these over and over so everyone in the team can recite them by heart
- Don’t forget to tell your referral partners, clients and contacts – and this is where subtle non sales content marketing comes into its own!
I tried it (but I need your help)
Because I want you to follow the steps above, I will to lead by example!
I admit, I am not sure if TLD’s differentiators are different enough. But the only way to know is share, and then ask!
These are the 6 things that make Top Left Design different. I would love to know if you think they are different enough!
Live Design Sessions
When we show designs to our clients, we mostly do this in person in a face to face session. We go through the designs, and then we open them up in Photoshop (the design programme) and we can make changes in front of them. Moving elements a few pixels, swapping things out, making things bigger or smaller, adjusting colours, and replacing images – these little tweaks that can make the difference between “great” and “I LOVE IT!”.
We never build anything unless you are 100% happy
This is our promise to clients. No one will ever get a website, or in the case of printed material, a brochure/flyer/business cards – without being sure they love the design and will therefore sign it off. This insistence means that our clients take it seriously. Often they say “yes, let’s go ahead” and then when we ask them to sign off officially it makes them look one more time and they may ask for one or 2 tweaks – but it means that when they sign off, they are sure sure sure.
Our coders are trained by our designers to be ultra-picky
Coders like ours are hard to come by. We work hard on our designs and we want the coders to be faithful to those designs when they are building the site’s HTML. This means the design our clients are signing off what the site will look like.
Business related questions and recommendations:
Your website and other marketing material is meant to be an extension of your business. It’s not there to be forgotten but to work for you, to help you raise awareness and create a great impression. We ask questions about what you do differently and why your clients/customers love you and what message you want to project – and we not only design the websites to communicate this, but we advise on how to get these messages out through website updates, social media, blogging, campaigns and email marketing. Our vast experience working over 14 years with so many businesses means we know what works and how this can fit in with your normal business activities.
Clear communications – so clients always know what the next steps are.
Our designers work directly with our clients. They have the experience and expertise to advice clients on the different aspects of design, site structure, and project process. Not many other agencies have this – most of them have an account manager or project manager or digital producer who works as a “middle man” between people in creative/production and the people who do the work. This often creates a disconnect and Chinese whispers scenarios. We use Trello for managing our projects between the team – it’s amazing for checklists, projects discussions and file sharing. For our Loyalty Club clients and for large project we even setup shared Trello boards to keep track of tasks.
A payment plan
Many of our clients are SMEs and appreciate this one. We spread payments across 3-10 months, with equal increments invoiced monthly. Often projects are delivered before the payments are finished. It’s kind of like interest free credit, very helpful for cashflow planning for our clients’ businesses.
Amongst these 6 differentiators are some (can you guess which?) that have more “story appeal” and can become more of a talking point.
I would love your thoughts on which of these are the most interesting and different – please comment below with your thoughts.