We have a lot of discussions with our clients about positioning themselves in the market. You know, what makes their company different, what makes them unique, what’s makes them attractive to potential customers?

This is sometimes done from scratch, maybe it’s a new company or more commonly a company that is revising their existing position. Maybe the marketplace has changed or maybe there are new competitors in their set or in their jurisdiction.

Identify your differentiators to rise above your competition

There are different triggers that might warrant these sorts of discussions, but we do it frequently. One thing that comes up most often is in this attempt to differentiate from your competition, it’s important to understand the difference between what I call table stakes versus differentiators.

So, what are table stakes? Table Stakes are requirements to get you into the game. These are things about your company that if you didn’t have these things, you couldn’t even call yourself the company that you are or you couldn’t even become a part of the industry that you’re in.

For example, we’re working with a youth soccer club and what their table Stakes would be are an expert coaching staff, the drills that we do, the schedule of games, we have weekly practices, we have referees at every game, we have beautiful field complexes, and different fields right around the corner. If you’re a soccer club and you don’t have fields, coaches, and games to play, you can’t call yourself a soccer club. These are table stakes requirements to get into the game.

Chess piece different than the rest

Differentiators are things that make you unique versus others that are in the game. So, in this case, it would be things that make this soccer club different from other soccer clubs that they’re competing against and this is a subtle thing.

But for example, a soccer club could be all about fun, you know for younger kids. Let’s get everybody in the game. It’s about having fun; all the kids play all the positions and that’s a very different system.

That’s a very different product than a soccer club that is touting preparations for competitive High School soccer, college recruiting, earning scholarships, or even professional tryouts. Those are very different type clubs and it’s important to understand your market and know what the competition is and where you want to be. Which people and which kinds of prospects do you want to attract?

Differentiators attract the business you want, and eliminate the leads you don’t want

The reason that those differentiators are so important is that, that is going to attract a certain type of customer.

If your club is all about fun and your marketing materials and collateral materials are attracting people that are highly competitive that want to really work at it every day, all day, getting in the gym, then that’s a very different dynamic.

If you’re set up for family fun where everybody wins and everybody gets in the game, you’re going to find yourself frustrated in terms of retaining those clients for those prospects if you’re marketing or barking up the wrong tree.

Another example is, we do a lot of work in the golf industry and consider a golf course that is marketing themselves, there’s often a number of golf courses in any given area. You see this all the time looking at golf course websites and marketing material. They tout beautiful design, the beautiful conditioning of the course, tee markers for players of all abilities, friendly service and staff to take care of you, the teachers that will help to instruct you, the hosting events and other things of this sort.

If you don’t have those things you can’t call yourself a golf course so those are things that get you into the game. Those are things that somebody would look for to find a golf course and that definitely will not set you apart from other golf courses because other golf courses already have that stuff. All of them do.

Those are tables stakes.

Happy business deal

Differentiators for golf courses are usually around and for most any company is about their beliefs and the nature of the humans that you’re trying to attract. A golf course that revolves around a huge challenging championship layout with long distances designed for the best players are touting the low apples.

The playing accomplishments of many of their members, the practice facilities that that they have available, to attract players who are really grinding, really working on their games.

That is very different from a club that offers golf, swimming, tennis, childcare, and recreational facilities for an entire family. There is less intent about the hardcore practicing of golf and more intent on developing a lifestyle, a hub of a lifestyle for those clients.

Those will attract two very different audiences and also serve to differentiate the club from other clubs in their area if they can cherry pick what niches available in their area revolve or present a narrative around their beliefs to attract the audience that they feel that they can get in that situation.

It’s a great place to start

Tee markers, greens, and beautiful layouts are what all golf courses have right? Fields and coaches, those are what all soccer clubs have and if your company is talking about table stakes, take a look at your marketing material.

Table Stakes versus differentiators is probably the number one area to get started and looking at your marketing material to figure out better ways to present that information so that your ideal prospects are coming in the door.  When you establish your differentiators, your negative prospects, the ones that you don’t want are not wasting your time and are not coming in the door.

That’s the way to succeed.

Hope that helps guys!