11 Creative Tips to Build Small Business Differentiation Strategies

Jack Welsh once said: If you don’t have a competitive advantage, don’t compete. Ever tried sailing with no wind? It is difficult, isn’t it? It is very analogous to marketing with no business differentiation. It is essentially impossible. But, like Jack Welsh said, if you don’t have a competitive advantage, it’s best not to waste your time and resources. But don’t give up before reviewing these tips to build small business differentiation strategies.

Check out our thoughts on creative marketing.


Before we continue, let me ask you a question. 

What works best for value proposition design in your business? We would love to hear what it was. Would you do us a favor and post it in the comments section below? Be the one who starts a conversation.

With the advent of the Internet, the number of marketing options available to both budding and experienced entrepreneurs has become staggering.


Related: Do You Know the 9 Keys to Creating Effective Advertisements?


So how do you derive good business differentiation? To build creative value propositions for your business, consider the following:


There are two ways to win in a competitive market:

  • Achieve sustainable lower cost (and therefore price) than your competition for the same products and services (very difficult)
  • Deliver more value, despite equal or higher price


A business is a value delivery system. Do you know the ‘value experiences’ your business delivers? You must start by knowing your targeted customer segments well.


The heart of a winning value proposition is the end-result experiences of value a business intends to deliver to its target customer segments. It needs to be articulated for the customer value end state … not for your product, service, or business process.


Want to see the best unique selling proposition examples we could find?


Be your customers … study and creatively infer value by observing / learning from what they do.


Do your claims surpass the value alternatives in the market place? Will your customers believe your claims? Does your value differentiate you in the customer’s eyes?


Can you validate and deliver your differentiation?


Is it sustainable, at least in the near term?


Is it simple, clear, and specific?


When your customers have customers, different value propositions are required for different players in the value delivery chain.


Every business has a value proposition … either implied or explicit. Implied value propositions usually mean little to no discrimination versus your competition. Look beyond your implied values.


NOT a good business proposition. So, instead consider these tips on building differentiation:


Differentiation strategies … create best value

The most useful definition of best value and its corresponding unique selling propositions (USP) is a believable collection of the most persuasive reasons people should notice you and take the action you’re seeking.


This way, it guides your decisions much more clearly and can be used as the basis for marketing messages.


If you don’t have strong selling propositions, people don’t have good reasons to do either of those.


For example, if an online bookstore has average selection, decent prices, delivery, a guarantee, good customer service, and a website, why would anyone buy from you? There’s surely a competitor who beats you in at least some of those aspects.


You don’t have to be the best in every way. Sure, it’s great if you are. But realistically, it’s difficult enough to be the best couple of ways.


However, if you’re the best in at least several ways, you’re the best option for the people who value those propositions.


Starbuck’s doesn’t have the lowest prices. Amazon isn’t the most prestigious book seller. Zappos’ isn’t the easiest way to shop. People buy from them for other reasons.


So, if a bookstore has the largest selection, for example, but the other things are just average, the people who value a large selection have a reason to buy from lt.


You must have some product or service elements that are unique. Something has to make you the best option for your target customers.


Otherwise, they have no good reason to buy from you.


heart of the proposition
Find the heart of the proposition.

Heart of the proposition

The heart of a winning unique selling proposition is the end result experiences of value a business intends to deliver to its target customers. The end result experiences. For example, a customer shopping for an electric drill is looking for one that can deliver holes as easy and conveniently as possible. Also one that can deliver the most multiple functions.


Articulate for customers

Unique selling propositions need to be articulated for customers … not for your products, services or business processes. Products, services, processes are the vehicles for the proposition delivery.


All businesses have unique selling propositions

Customers perceive relative value in any proposition, even implicit ones … so every business delivers a unique selling proposition (explicit or implicit). You need to design it explicitly. Don’t let it happen by chance.


become your customers
Learn to become your customers.


Differentiation strategies examples … become your customers

“Become” your customers instead of just asking them what they want from your business. Listen, observe and study to creatively infer from what customers DO.


Business differentiation … multiple unique selling propositions

When your customers have customers, different USPs are required for different players in the value delivery chain.


So where would Seth Godin look for value in your business’s value delivery chain?  His top 5 areas include:



Time is the most important customer priority today. What can you do to keep your time demands to a minimum?


 Convenience and easy to work with

Ones related to customer time for sure. Do everything you can to make things simple as possible.


 Customer experience / service

Great service creates a great experience and becomes something worth your customer talking to his friends about. It is the most important element of your word of mouth marketing campaign.


 Trust and warranty

Trust is the most often named reason customers say they select businesses to do business with. Good warranties are great places to start building trust.


 Business differentiation … new ways

Here we are talking about new ways of doing business. The best example for this value proposition in my mind is Netflix. What do you think?


Seth would end the discussion with you by asking the following questions:


Can you validate and deliver your unique selling point?

Is it sustainable, at least in the near term?

Is it simple, clear, and specific?


What is the unique selling point for your business? How does it stack up with Seth’s recommendations?


Do you have an experience to share with this community? How about a comment or question?


The bottom line

Remember this: Information is cheap. Attention is expensive. Time is priceless. Customer time and convenience is a great place to look for business differentiation. Give it a try today.




Need some help in capturing more customers from your marketing strategies? Creative ideas to help the differentiation with potential clients?


 Call today for a FREE consultation or a FREE quote. Learn about some options to scope your job.

Call Mike at 607-725-8240.


All you get is what you bring to the fight. And this struggle gets better every day you learn and apply new ideas.


When things are not what you want them to be, what’s most important is your next step. Call today.


Test. Learn. Improve. Repeat.


Are you devoting enough energy to improve your marketing, branding, and advertising?


Do you have a lesson about making your marketing strategy better you can share with this community? Have any questions or comments to add in the section below?


Digital Spark Marketing will stretch your thinking and your ability to adapt to change.  We also provide some fun and inspiration along the way. Call us for a free quote today. You will be amazed how reasonable we will be.

More reading on value propositions from Digital Spark Marketing’s Library:

Examples of Values … 17 Creative Value Proposition Ideas

Proposition Examples … 6 Awesome FiOS Value Statements

Unique Value Proposition … Does It Covert Leads Well?

11 Creative Tips to Build Small Business Differentiation Strategies
Mike Schoultz is a digital marketing and customer service expert. With 48 years of business experience, he consults on and writes about topics to help improve the performance of small business. Find him on G+FacebookTwitter, Digital Spark Marketing, and LinkedIn.



11 Creative Tips to Build Small Business Differentiation Strategies