Your baby is not as cute as mine.

And what this has to do with marketing.

In a recent product demonstration, I had this epiphany that made me think of mothers and their babies.

You see, every mother, myself included, believes their baby is cuter than any other baby in the entire world. Dare the world to disagree, and you find yourself on the defensive – no really, my baby is cuter. Just look at him!

When someone points out that your baby’s crying is annoying, you just cannot imagine how they do not understand that your baby’s cuteness more than makes up for the irritating wailing. Don’t they know he’s hungry and just needs to be fed?

Now stop and think a minute. Replace the baby in this analogy with the product you’re trying to differentiate, and the annoying crying with the problems your product really does have. Do you get the picture?

You are asking the world to look at your baby without noticing the room full of cute babies they see. Additionally, you’re asking them to overlook your baby’s current state of, dare I say it, un-cuteness. Are the other babies crying too? Finally, you’re asking them to do this with no physical or emotional connection to your baby.

Differentiation is hard. Building trust and establishing a relationship with your prospects is very hard. The value you must create for your product has to outweigh the value of all the other products around it. You must unseat the competition, even if that means your competition is the ever-present “do nothing.” You must communicate on a one-to-one level with a prospect in a way that solves a problem or makes them better at life or their job. With all this complexity, I offer some advice to consider when choosing your differentiation strategy.

When you work to build a relationship, you’re making a connection with an individual at the intersection of your mutual goals.

Build a relationship and earn trust.

When you work to build a relationship, you’re making a connection with an individual at the intersection of your mutual goals. The result of relationship-building may mean that you mutually come to the agreement that your product is not right for this prospect. An optimistic marketer sees this as a form of winning because it is an opportunity to test the outer limits of your target prospect base. Which leads to the next tip about integrity – the lack of which is the reason marketing can be so hard.

Demonstrate integrity.

I get irritated when marketing messaging is referred to as “spin” because of the negative connotation associated with marketing spin. To avoid contributing to this negative side of marketing, you must insist on integrity with all your marketing activities. Heavily promoting a benefit your product delivers is the point of marketing. But stretching the truth demonstrates a lack of integrity. And flat out lying is inexcusable. You have one chance to make a good impression. Make sure your value proposition and differentiation is truthful, or your prospects will forever remember your lack of integrity.

Do your homework.

There is no substitute or shortcut for research in your product category. You must critically understand your competition and what you are displacing. Positioning means that you’ve considered the unique selling proposition of all the products in your competitive field. And doing your homework helps as you’re establishing value as it applies to your customer. Do not stop short of asking your customer to verify that what you feel is valuable to them.

Check your subjectivity at the door.

If you are unable to distance yourself from your product to objectively see how it compares to similar products, make sure you seek the advice of someone who can. Take their feedback honestly and accept opinions that are not yours. After all, it’s not a baby at all. It is an inanimate object that can only benefit from honest feedback and multiple points of view.

The profession which is marketing is complex and challenging. The competition is loud and fierce, and darn it, everyone’s baby can be really cute. But when you face this honestly, you’ll be able to see, hear, and understand when your product outshines the competition and delivers value to your customer.

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