Be clear about your brand proposition
Your company provides something of value. But why is it of value? How does it help the buyer solve a problem? Dozens (maybe hundreds) of other companies sell the same service that you do. Successful vendors identify a “unique selling proposition” to offer their customers. That simply means, what are you willing to do for your customer that your competitors either can’t or won’t? The real question is, how are you different?
Here are four potential answers:
1. We are the best at a specific methodology or technology
The first thing a buyer will think about when buying services is getting the job done right. Whatever service you sell, be it cyber security, public relations, strategic planning or event management, there are standards for how it gets done. How can you show you are the best?
· Gather proof points that show you can win earned media, make a conference motivating or keep a client’s network safe from intruders
· Craft a compelling story to illustrate about how you are outstanding at your work using credentials, sample work, evaluation data and testimonials.
2. We over-deliver on quality, timeliness or responsiveness to change
While there are plenty of providers that can do a great job on technical requirements, lasting relationships are built from outstanding customer service. Consider how you do the work and how your customer service distinguishes itself.
· Do you offer extraordinary attention to details?
· Is your communication style tight and error free?
· Do you respond to client requests day or night?
· Does your team follow plans well and deliver on time?
· Does the team adapt well to changing needs? Some clients have a predictable workflow, while others are more fluid. The former may be looking for a dependable contractor who can just get the job done; the latter may need someone flexible and able to respond to change.
3. We know the client agency and how it works
We all know that commercial clients and federal clients are completely different, but the cultures of different government agencies and their sub-offices also vary greatly. Each agency has their own expectations for quality, accountability and oversight; a good working knowledge of these requirements is essential to a winning bid. Some examples include:
· Understanding the context of the authorizing legislation for the agency, office or program
· Knowing how quality is defined and by whom. Is it scientists, state grantees, lawyers or generals?
· The ability to help an agency understand and navigate external threats and opportunities. These could include those dictated by the budget process, a recent Government Accounting Office report or external factors such as Congressional oversight.
4. We are experts in the relevant subject matter
While you may have the best writers in the world, the agency may be working on a complicated issue that requires you to understand an additional body of knowledge, regulatory practice or subject area (think the Medicare rules, fish farming, veteran suicide). If the agency’s stakeholders include grantees, partners or employees in the field, an understanding of their priorities and how they make decisions may be critical to ensuring that you get the job done right.
In summary, here are some points to ponder as you develop a brand proposition:
· What sets you apart from the crowd?
· What makes you the lowest-risk choice for the job?
· How can you prove that to potential customers? Remember -- metrics demonstrate a point better than adjectives
· Given these strengths, where will you focus efforts to make the most impact on the job?
· Most importantly, what opportunities do you want to take a pass on so you can focus on your sweet spot?