Businesses thrive when they stand out from the crowd. No one wants to buy products from you if everyone else offers the same products. But if you stand out as a leader in something, you can draw business based on that reputation.
Determining this “hook” is a critical part of the marketing of a business. However, a company must be careful not to market something that they can’t back up. While there might be an initial spike in customers, the overall trend will slump if the business can’t maintain their promises.
Below, 12 leaders from Forbes Agency Council look at how companies can seek to identify these “hooks” and use them in their marketing efforts.
1. Identify The Emotional Trigger
More often than not it’s less about the fancy slogans or wordsmithing but simply about what you get from the horse’s mouth: what do your sales team and frontliners say about your brand, and what is the emotional trigger that gets them thinking about you? You’ve got to dig deep and discover the “why” of what got you started in the first place when seeking to fix a problem you saw! – Lars Voedisch, PRecious Communications
2. Ask Customers What Makes You Different
A company can think and say it’s unique on any dimension, but if a customer doesn’t feel it or value it, it’s wasted words. Ask your customers what’s different about you, and why it’s important to them. When marketing, you need to play it back in ways that reflect those sentiments. The message should mirror what they’ve said, which validates to customers that you truly hear and value them. – Camille Nicita, Gongos, Inc.
3. Interview New Clients And Employees Throughout Their First Year
Interview every new client in the first six months they are with your company, and then again at their one-year anniversary. These people will be in the best position to contrast you to your competitors. Also, ask new employees that have come from a competitor what they see as the big differences. Finally, ask all your employees what they feel makes the company stand apart. – Elonide Semmes, Right Hat, LLC
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4. Effectively Communicate Your Motivation
A company’s story is what makes it unique. After all, no one else can have the same story. Ensure you communicate effectively the motivation for starting, how you grew as a business and where you see yourself in the future. This will set you apart from your competitors while also conveying your unique characteristics. – Adrian Falk, Believe Advertising & PR
5. Think Back To Your Company’s Mission
Think back to your company’s mission. Consider your long-standing goals, and how you’ve practically carried them out while working with your clients. What makes you distinguished can often be found retrospectively, so listening to your clients and collecting feedback can help you understand your impact from an outsider’s perspective. – Hannah Trivette, NUVEW Web Solutions
6. Start With Your Origin Story
Start with your origin story, and build out your foundational messaging from there. When you have an anchor story that informs all of your communications, your “hook” or uniqueness becomes apparent. The “why” behind what you do is crucial — beyond just generating revenues. What is your higher purpose? What inspires you to do this work every day? Weave that into storytelling for strong marketing. – Lynne Golodner, Your People LLC
7. Highlight Your People
Focus on your people. They make the company unique. During this time (and really, any other), highlight what’s unique about the folks who work for your company. Whether you’re a small business or a huge corporation, that’s going to affect, in some way, your products and services. Your company does what it does best for a reason: the people who make it happen. Highlight them, and you find the hook. – Danny Star, Website Depot
8. Interview Your Leadership Team
Start by interviewing your leadership team. A founder or other key leader should be able to articulate the stories that led the company to be formed or the product to be created. It is these stories that will unveil the unique “hook” that sets the company apart. Most companies have a unique set of brand assets, and you should go to the source of those who created the original set of assets. – Bill Hanifin, Hanifin Loyalty
9. Look At Reviews
Look at reviews! Your best resource for why your product is better than others is a satisfied customer. You can also look at competitors’ reviews to see what their customers are dissatisfied with and use that to make your company stand out. Community management can teach you a lot about your pitfalls, which advertisers focus on, but it can also teach you a lot about your strengths as well. – Donna Robinson, Collective Measures
10. Lean Into Your Core Values
Your hook is less a gimmick and more about who you are as an organization. If your core values are true and not just a group of words you threw together, lean into those. There are reasons your core values exist. When you can clearly communicate why they exist, you’ll have your point(s) of differentiation. – Roger Hurni, Off Madison Ave
11. Find The Unique Problem You Can Solve
Find the unique problem that your product or service can solve rather than just “making their life easier.” Be specific with your message. Talk about the pain points your audience needs to solve that your competitors can’t fix, and make that your mission. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS
12. Know Your Competition
To stay competitive, you must know the competition. A shocking number of our clients can’t answer basic questions about their competitors or even identify them. Conduct a detailed audit of the top three competitors, cataloguing their features and benefits. Then, look at their communication channels and how they position themselves. Only then can you clearly see what makes you stand out. – Keri Witman, Clever Lucy