For a country boy from Chatsworth. GA, that is a big word.   Heck, that is a big word no matter where you are from! After spending the week at one of the largest flooring shows in the world, I can tell you that the only thing bigger than the word itself, may be the challenge of living up to its definition.

Differentiation is defined as “the action or process of distinguishing between two or more things or people”. In your world, it is the reason people choose to associate with you and your business. After walking the countless isles of beautiful flooring products from around the world, I can assure you that even if they understand the definition, many are not grasping the concept and using it to their benefit.

So many booths had beautiful product, but there was nothing in that “enormous sea of beautiful” that made one stand out from the other. Don’t get me wrong, some booths looked different, but the attendees were not there to purchase a booth. They were there to purchase a product, and rarely did I pass a booth that told me why their product was unique and different.

Here are some things to think about as you consider differentiating yourself from your competition:

1. Define your uniqueness - ask yourself, your staff, and your customers what makes your store/location unique. Why did they shop with you? Hope that the answer is more than price. If price is your differentiator, you are only preferred as long as you have the lowest price. That is usually accompanied by the lowest margins, lowest paid staff, and is a recipe for failure.

2. Remember, you knowing what makes you unique is useless. Your customer must know it. If all of your salespeople are certified, make sure they know it. If you have the most professional installation crews in your area, tout it. If you offer in-home design services and others don’t, advertise it. If you don’t tell your story, your competition will.

3. Promote your uniqueness outside and inside your store. Outside your store, use your key differences to get them to come in. Inside your store, constantly remind them why they came. I walked an entire hall of over one hundred booths and noted the things that grabbed my attention: Great signage touting uniqueness, highly attentive staff, use of video and audio telling your story, and live demos.

One last thing, though it can be challenging, if you find you are not as unique as you thought you were, it is never too late to differentiate! Redefine your identity within your community to be what you want it to be. Here is to hoping that 2018 is your best year yet!

Monday, January 15, 2018