Either in your customer marketplace or talent marketplace, it is very likely that while you are trying so hard to differentiate yourselves, you are all doing it the SAME WAY. It's not helping you to be truly DISTINCTIVE.
Noted in a recent post on the What About Clients? blog by Dan Hull is the following telling comment of a third-year University of Chicago law student (at an event attended by law firms of 5-1500 people) when asked:
"Based on websites, brochures and materials sent to law student recruits, could she differentiate between the many firms with which she was interviewing?"
She paused for a long time before answering. Finally, she responded as nicely as she could. "Frankly, based on the materials, all of you seem to be exactly the same."
Remember, your brochures, websites, etc, are just words. And pictures.
Distinction is about ACTION.
Your words and images in your marketing materials will only be distinct if they demonstrate what you DO DIFFERENTLY from everyone else.
You can't fake differentiation in a brochure or on a Web site through design elements, taglines and word choices.
So, are you actually DOING anything differently from other firms? Saying you're different is not enough. Be honest. Ask yourself...
Are you really distinctive?
If so, tell the story. If not, you might want to start distinguishing yourself from the rest. Either via specialization, employee policies, unique leadership structure, or something even more powerful.
When you are competing for amazing customers and brilliant talent, you've got to prove you're worthy of them.
(originally posted at Golden Practices.)