What makes your company unique apart from your logo and visual identity? If you go to your website and cover up your logo and brand colors, what are you saying that makes you different from your competitors?
Developing your unique point of view is easily one of the most difficult aspects of marketing and demand generation. In this week’s episode we talk about all that goes into digging deep to uncover and develop the differentiation you need to stand out from your competition.
This is an area where many companies turn to agencies to help them facilitate conversations and work through the steps involved. Listen now to learn the techniques we use to draw out, capture and define your unique story.
[01:14] What is a unique point of view and how do you use it to differentiate?
[03:16] 1. Ideal customer profile: Who do you want to tell your story to?
[05:13] 2. Unique point of view: What is your unique story?
[06:46] 3. Competitor review: What are your competitors saying?
[08:05] A lot of companies are saying the same thing
[10:45] Why differentiation is the key
[11:56] Dig deep to analyze and develop differentiated messages
[14:01] Working sessions with key team members to uncover and stress test points of differentiation
[17:51] Using questionnaires and hosting customer workshops
[21:46] Defining 3 key themes
[24:43] Telling your unique story consistently and repeatedly
[26:42] Weaving your unique point of view into all of your marketing
[27:36] Key takeaway
Hey everybody, it’s Jenni from GrowthMode Marketing. You are listening to The Demand Gen Fix the podcast where our team of GrowthModers and our guests discuss the ins and outs of demand generation and why we believe it’s the key to long-term sustainable growth, especially in the HR tech industry.
Hello and welcome back to The Demand Gen Fix podcast. Deanna and Greg and I are back this week and we’re going to be talking about a topic that’s near and dear to our hearts, and that is developing your unique point of view. We have touched on this topic in the past because it’s one of the pillars of our company and what we do. And so it’s very important to us, but we’ve never really gone into the details on how to define that. And defining and constantly delivering a unique point of view does help you break through the clutter and stand out in an overly crowded market, especially something like the HR technology space. So we want to dig in try to identify some of the steps and how you can go ahead and develop your own unique point of view and build out your story and your framework for your company.
Let’s start with talking about what a unique point of view is, because I know not all our listeners have listened to past episodes where maybe we talked about it. And the way that I think about it is, it’s the story you tell in the market to drive awareness, build trust, and ultimately build demand for your products and services. And it’s not specifically about your products and services, although you want to be able to tie that in. It’s about how you view a relevant challenge or issue in your market. And so it’s got to be an angle that your company can stand behind that is different than what prospects are hearing from competitors.
It’s different from the competitors. You know, everybody says the same thing, we save you money or we do it faster, so you want to have something that breaks you out from that sameness that makes you unique.
Companies don’t realize how much they sound like the competitors. We’ll do a competitive analysis and start to break out things. We’ll show, here’s statements you could say that they say and that everybody says, when you really start to compare it and dissect what companies are saying out there, they don’t sound as different as they think they do oftentimes. And from a buyer perspective, that certainly is what they see. And so everybody starts to blend together and that see a sameness and it can be overwhelming for the buyers. And you certainly don’t want to get lumped into that category when you’re being considered for a solution out there.
If everybody sounds the same, what do you have to judge based on, that everybody wants to play in the price game, right? So, you want to sound different so you have more value.
So how do we go about identifying the company’s unique point of view? You may have all of the bits and pieces there. It’s about digging in and not necessarily reinventing the wheel but digging in to see what points of view already live in the minds of your team.
It’s likely that the thoughts for unique point of view already live in the minds of your team. Now, it’s a different story if you’re pivoting and you’re developing your messaging for the first time. But if you are developing a unique point of view for a market that you’re very familiar with, that you’ve been selling into, what you’re going to find is, I think if you dig deep with your team, you’re going to find a story that resonates with your best fit prospects, which are your ideal customer profile. I think it’s really important to call out that it is so critical that your story is built around your ideal customer profile because you want it to resonate with them. You don’t want to be everything to everyone in the marketing that you’re doing, or you will continue to blend into that sea of sameness. But if you think about people in your organization who are customer facing, who are prospect facing, they’re having conversations every day, they’re picking up nuggets, they probably have thoughts that live in the back of their mind of these are the things that make people’s eyes light up when we talk about this topic.
That’s what you want to embrace as part of your unique point of view.
What are the issues that are really on their mind, right? What’s the challenges that your ICP has so that you can talk to them, talk with them, and they say, oh, these people get me. You know, they understand that. They understand the industry they under, they know who I am.
And then once you’ve distinguished what your unique point of view is, you’re going to want to weave it throughout all of your content, you’re speaking engagements, your sales conversations. You’re going to be telling that story over and over and over. And your goal is to attract those best fit clients who are your ideal customer profile. So, once you’ve got that laid out, once you’ve got your unique point of view, it becomes easier and easier to talk about it and to engage with those people because you’re doing it over and over again
When you’re telling that story consistently and repeatedly. The goal is to attract that ideal customer profile, those right fit clients. And so knowing it takes, on average, according to Gartner now 66 touches, you need them to pay attention 66 times in order for them to be like, Hey, this is resonating. This is a company I want to work with. And really start to pay attention. And so like, let’s dig into how do you actually build out your unique point of view? And when we do it, we look at it as a story framework, but there’s lots of steps. And it sounds really straightforward, but you know, there’s a lot that goes into the backend to build out that framework. Let’s talk about that and what it looks like at GrowthMode Marketing when we’re working with clients.
Like we were talking about before with the ideal customer profile, you need to start there. That’s the first step because that’s the person you’re trying to reach, right? You’re going to have a map, you need to have a goal of where your map is taking you. So that’s the ICP. So that’s the first thing you have to do is have that defined.
We certainly have clients who will come and already have their ideal customer profile defined, and we pick up then at that unique point of view story framework and mapping that out. But if you don’t have the ideal customer profile mapped out yet you know, we’ll push back and we’ll say, Hey, we have to define this before it makes sense to really create your unique point of view. Otherwise it’s going to be too broad and it’s not going to be as impactful for you.
Then I think the second thing that you need to start with is the competitive review. You need to look at who are the company’s competitors, I would say at least three to six, look at their messaging. What do they have on their websites, their social media profiles, in their sales literature? Do they have a point of view? Do they have something that’s distinctive to them? Do they maybe sound just like everybody else? Do all six of them sound the same? How different is the message across each of your competitors? Do they use very general statements or do they have a very specific tagline or specific thing that they stand behind?
We find companies in the same space often sound the same. It’s very common. We could probably talk about an example. I know Greg, you’ve been working recently with a payroll service provider who is actually transitioning to become a human capital management service and technology provider. So, in their case, it’s not pulling what we already know out of their heads, it’s helping them define it for the first time. But let’s talk a little bit about how, as we looked at competitors, what are some of the common statements that came out? Because I think that will really help our audience understand what we mean by, you all sound the same.
We have a template, sort of a grid. We put each competitor into the grid and fill out what are they saying, what’s their story, what’s their market like, who are they targeting and things like that. So that you can compare each different competitor on basically one page for each. And then you can look at it and you can see what’s different about them. And a lot of times what happens is, especially it seems like with payroll, it’s like payroll is, it’s our people that are the greatest, which could very well be true, but, you know, nine times out of 10, most the other companies are saying it’s our people. Or they say something like, we save you time and money. When you’re in a room developing these phrases, they all sound great, right? It’s like great lofty things that you’re developing for your company, but then when you compare it to everybody else, it kind of falls flat because everybody else can say the same thing. So that’s where we try to map it all out so at least we can see what people are saying so we can find those little holes to plug in for this unique point of view.
I feel like everybody wants to work with really good people. Everyone wants to save time and money. Everyone wants to focus on what matters most. All of those things are great and everybody wants that in the business that they choose to do business with. However, if 10 different businesses are saying that, who are you going to pick? There’s got to be something in there that is a little bit different. Something that pushes you over the edge to make you choose that company.
What we have found is actually when we start to look at competitors, many companies in fact, a surprising amount of companies don’t have a clear point of view or a differentiation point that when you look at their marketing content online, in their digital footprint is clear and obvious. And they may have gone through message positioning at exercises. They may have defined like, here’s our product differentiators, but their language still starts to sound very similar. Some actual statements taken from a competitor. In this case, ease your HR workload and help your company save money, help you focus on what matters most, running your business, save time and money, help, and share compliance and empower your employees to succeed, streamline your operations and drive performance. Now, if you stop and think about that, if you’re an HR technology company, or even if you’re in a different space and you’re just a technology company, how many of those statements actually apply to what you do and the problems you solve for clients?
You’re probably like, it should be all of them. Oh, right. You know, in a lot of cases this is very relevant what they’re saying. And this is the kind of language that typically comes out of companies. So, like I said, it’s really surprising as we dig in that there is no clear differentiation. When you do the differentiation exercise where we’re helping you map out your unique point of view story framework, you’re basically figuring out the blueprint for what is the story we’re going to tell consistently in the market and what are the challenges we’re going to talk about? All the things we just said as examples might fall into that. But when you apply that buyer persona or that ideal customer profile to it, and you start to narrow it down, now I’m talking about it, but in a sense that is very relevant to you for the size that you’re at as an organization for the industry that you’re in, for the role that you’re in. You’re really getting very hyper-focused and specific in that story you’re telling so that it resonates better with them.
So, you want to start by analyzing those things that you have already in your existing resources, which, you should already have your ideal customer profile, most likely you’ve gone through a buyer personas exercise as well. So, take a look at those, do some voice of customer research, see what your customers are saying, really get a good idea of good and bad, what is being said about your company. And then do a messaging positioning exercise as well. This will help you define whether or not you do have a clear differentiator as opposed to some of your other competitors. Are you actually focused on the buyer’s pain points? Do you know who your ideal customer profile is and what their pain points are? And are you focusing on that? And do you sound different than everybody else in the industry? Are you saying the same things? Because if you are, then you’re just one in that same pool and you’re not going to ever stand out. So you need to take a look at all of those resources you already have and really dive deep and analyze those.
As part of the unique point of view story framework that we do at GrowthMode Marketing, we’re building the framework. We’re not doing message positioning, that’s a whole different thing. We’re not doing voice of customer research for this particular project. But what we’re looking for and what you should be looking for as you’re analyzing your existing resources are do you have that information today? Because if you do, it can really help feed the direction of your unique point of view story framework. If you don’t have any of those resources, and quite frankly, every once in a while, we run into clients where they don’t have all those things built out, then there’s a little more heavy lifting upfront to start to understand some of those things so that you can proceed with creating a unique point of view story framework. If you don’t have them, okay, we’ll figure it out. But you at least have to have the customer profile mapped out and defined.
Those assets really help when you’re starting to get your group of people together and try to put together a conversation or a workshop with the people from your team. Having any of that background material helps you to figure out like where to start the conversation, right? So, after you’ve looked through all that stuff, it’ll give you a chance to kind of think of what you know, at least to start the conversation and then, select a bunch of team members, some key team members that’ll participate in some work sessions to flesh that out and pick holes and ideas and figure out where you want this thing to go and how you know how to shape it. It’s important to really have some good people in the beginning, like we were saying before, people that have been in the industry for a while with the company for a long time, probably like five to seven people, we usually recommend a marketing leader, a sales leader, customer service leader, product leader. People that understand the problems that are out there from different perspectives because we want to be able to look at it from all different angles with different points of view so that you can dig through these ideas and poke holes in each other’s ideas.
To your point, Greg, it is important to have the right people from your team participate in the process, but not too many people. Because if you start to go beyond that five to seven participants, it starts to be too many cooks in the kitchen. I think it’s also important that when you look at who’s going to be a part of that conversation, the reason we’re saying, hey, look at the CEO and the senior leaders in marketing sales, customer service product, we want people that are strategic and can think about it. Because what we’ve found when we’re working with clients is if you’re bringing people into the process who aren’t as strategic, they have a hard time thinking outside of this is how it works right now, and this is how the product works. They’re very focused on the day-to-day and not necessarily able to be a visionary.
And they think when you’re developing your unique point of view story framework, there has to be a level of ability to think strategically about the future and have a vision for how do we talk about this? You know, what do people’s eyes light up over talking about it in a sense that is much strategic and higher level and talking about challenges and issues and problems in the market versus the day-to-day, well, their payroll was wrong, so we had to correct it. And that caused a lot of work. If you’re too day-today in the thinking around it, it really limits what story you come out of the workshops with.
What’s the best way to, to go forward once you’ve got this group of people together?
I’d say in the beginning what we like to do, and what seems to work well, is to take some of that material that you’ve collected and some of the ideas that you have and create a digital questionnaire to send out to the group of people that hopefully have agreed to participate, right? Cause you want to give them a heads up first of what is this all about? And then obviously that this questionnaire is coming, and the questionnaire is just to kind of start to frame out what you want to have in a real conversation. And it’s important that you talk about those challenges, who the audience is maybe what people think are the company’s superpowers. Some examples of questions could be, what’s a challenge in the industry that we could debate over all night, sitting with a glass of wine or whatever the favorite beverage is. What are they going to get their dander up about what are they going to get excited about? Cause those are the types of things that are going to start to resonate. Same thing, it could be problems within your company or, how does the company view the problem? Just things to kind of get people thinking and thinking strategically.
The digital questionnaire absolutely serves a couple of things when we send it out. We do want to get people to start thinking about it before we bring them into workshops. We’re asking questions to kind of probe like, hey, really think deep about this, come prepared to that conversation. It also allows us to collect initial thoughts, comments, and themes so that we have some direction in that workshop. We’re not just walking in there and asking every client we work with the exact same questions. We’re looking at it and saying, okay, here’s some things that really interesting that came out of the digital questionnaires. Here’s some things where we can tell, okay, this person’s not thinking strategically about it. We know that going in. How do we reframe some of these questions and dig a little deeper to get them to do that?
And ultimately what it allows us to do then is to shape that discussion guide to then go into our workshop sessions and our workshop sessions. We’re going to do two to three with a client. We’re taking the responses we’ve already collected from them, and we’re going to focus on the prospect challenges and the problems, and we’re going to dig deep into those themes. So it’s all about poking holes and thoughts and looking at it from every angle. And we want the team members that are participating in that from the client side to understand that and also poke holes in the ideas and have a conversation with each other versus just telling us like, oh, it’s this, and sometimes that’s a little bit like pulling teeth, I think it can be a little bit uncomfortable to get pushed back on ideas and thoughts, but that’s all part of the process is, let’s discuss how your industry expertise, products and services address these challenges. And if what you’re giving is responses aren’t actually addressing those challenges and meeting that, we’ll push harder, we’ll help the team get there so that at the end of the day we can really map out that unique point of view story framework.
One thing to add on top of that is making sure everybody is free and open and comfortable. There’s no right answer, there’s no wrong answer. It’s really just a conversation to try to figure out what are these themes and ideas that we can start to weave together to make the unique totally view. So that’s an important part, like setting the whole thing up from the beginning, right? Make sure everybody knows it’s not nothing personal, it’s just all ideas that’s all open and throw it out on the table so we can see what’s there and make something of it.
Make sure that people don’t think it’s an argument, work together to get to the end result.
I can tell you, there’s times where we’re working with clients and they’ll hit on something that we’re like, so that’s a really big problem for your buyer. And they’re like, yes. We’re like, maybe we should dig into that and talk about it. And where I think it gets uncomfortable is we’ll hear things like, I don’t think we can go there. There’s ways to dig into it and really think about it. And if it feels like an uncomfortable thought, you’re probably onto something because quite frankly, and we’ve said it before, when you’re developing a unique point of view, if everybody agrees with you, if there’s no discomfort there, it is not a unique point of view. Yeah. And, and you need to keep that in mind. If it comes too easy, you probably need to dig a little deeper and think a little harder about it and make sure nobody else is talking about it. You know, and the, the beautiful thing coming out of those workshop sessions is then, it’s now time to map out your unique point of view story framework. So let’s talk a little bit about what that unique point of view story framework actually looks like.
So, the way that we go about it at GrowthMode Marketing is we define pillars, three key themes that support your unique point of view. So, whatever the story is that you’ve developed in these workshops and in this questionnaire and everything, we think it works out really well to define three key themes. And each of those would be, would be capturing core points that paint the story around each of those themes, right? And so, you start with the, the top levels, and then you go another level deeper to the core points. And then under that there’s even a few more bullet points. So when it comes down to it, you actually have quite a bit of things to work with to tell your story. You know, amongst all of your different marketing programs.
All the pillars tie back up to that unique point of view. So you’ve got a unique point of view statement. Sometimes that unique point of view statement standing alone, you’re like, well, that come on, that’s not much. It’s the story and the framework that you build underneath it that really brings it to life. And we like to work in threes. It’s three pillars and then there’s three beams under each pillar, and there’s bullet points under each of those. By the time we get done and we’re delivering to our clients, the actual framework mapped out to Jenni’s point, it’s pretty meaty and there’s a lot to work with to now go and tell your story consistently. So it doesn’t mean I talk about one thing and I talk about it over and over and over to a nauseam. That’s one of the pieces that I weave into the story consistently because it all maps back up that unique point of view statement and all ties together. But you’re consistently telling these stories that are all interrelated to each other, and it’s actually quite powerful and helps a marketing team stay hyper-focused when they’re creating content. Because now moving forward, you’re looking at this story framework and you’re mapping out your blog articles and your podcast topics and your marketing campaigns, and you can sit there and, and kind of gut check like, okay, did these topics tie into our unique point of view story framework? If the answer’s no, we probably need to refocus and make sure we’re telling that story consistently.
And it actually may seem to you like you’re telling the same thing ad nauseum, but honestly, when it’s going out in different formats and you take different pieces of it and you break it out amongst all of the different things that you’re doing, it doesn’t seem that way to your ideal customer profile. They. don’t see it that way, that you’re constantly repeating yourself. That’s just because you’re the one in the thick of it.
If you think about it, like we said before, Gartner says, it takes an average of 66 touches for somebody to actually pay attention. Think about it, for every piece that you put out, how many times did they need to see that message before it sticks? And how many more times do they need to see that message before you find them repeating it and saying, this is what we need because this is our challenge. And we’re looking at this like over time you know, and this is the whole philosophy around the demand generation engine and building it out. You’re attracting buyers that this resonates with. If they’re making up to 80% of that purchase decision, by the time that they engage with a sales rep, your message is finally getting through to them. You want prospects to come to you and start to repeat back your story to you. Like, these are the challenges I’m having, this is why I am doing this. And you know, like when you hear that as a sales rep, it’s probably like, yes. Their job just got a little bit easier because you have somebody who’s pretty committed already to working with you because they’ve really bought into your story.
With the unique point of view, the thing is, it’s never fully baked, right? There’s always going to be things changing in the market, changing in the industry, changing at your company. So it’s something that you always want to be testing and refining once you’ve got it. You know, once you’ve got it figured out and you’re out in the market with it, just keep trying it in different places and, you know, testing it out. And then what do you even, your analytics are telling you, like, is this, you know, what’s resonating better with other people? Cause maybe something that you decided doesn’t work as good as something else that you decided, or, you know, so you want to use, just use it as a map for creating more content in the future to, to help you to figure out what’s, what’s going to be the best message, and so that you’re hyper focused on that ICP.
To sum that up, Greg, when you have the unique point of view story framework finally mapped out, it doesn’t end there. You’ve got to implement it, you’ve got to test it, you’ve got to refine it. I think the first step is implementing the story across your existing content. So look at your website, how do you rework the copy and the content on there to help tell that story? Look at your existing sales tools, look at your marketing collateral in addition to using that as a map to craft that future content to keep you hyper-focused. So you can tell that consistent story over and over and over and continue to test that viewpoint and that story by gauging reactions and looking at what I like to call, micro measurements of how your ideal customer profile is responding.
When you find what is really resonating, lean into it because maybe you’ve got these three pillars and collectively it tells this great story, but maybe one of the pillars resonates more. And you’re seeing that in your micro measurements because you’re putting email campaigns out and you’re seeing they’re clicking through more on that topic. Great. That doesn’t mean you have to completely go change your unique point of view story framework. It just means I’m going to lean in more to that pillar and create more content specific to that. And maybe the other two pillars are kind of secondary to it. But I think it’s really important as you implement it that you have everyone in your organization on the same page. Not only is it a marketing tool, but does sales understand it? When your leaders are speaking at conferences, are they sticking to the story framework and telling that you really have to think about how do I roll it out across the organization and make it a living, breathing document, not just a we created it, we’re going to set it aside, we’ll check back on it in a couple of years, use it because it really is a great guide and a powerful tool for you.
Thanks for joining us on The Demand Gen Fix, a podcast for HR tech marketers brought to you by GrowthMode Marketing. We sure hope you enjoyed it. Don’t forget to subscribe for more perspectives on demand generation and B2B marketing strategies. Plus give us a like, tell your friends, we’ll see you next time.
At GrowthMode, we combine the unique discipline of growth marketing and the evergreen principles of traditional marketing to develop integrated strategies and measurable programs that help businesses drive growth where it matters most to their vision. We help our B2B clients focus on their specific goals and ensure that their investment is aligned with their broader strategic vision.