Differentiation is KEY for your small business. How to get started + Examples.

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How to begin differentiating yourself and your business.When I started my career, I didn’t work with small companies. It wasn’t really an option for me, as I was a tech nerd interested in trying on and developing new technology. Small firms didn’t have the budgets nor the interest for it.

So when I left the large sector and joined the smaller-scale world, I realized that I had been taking something for granted when I worked for big businesses and academia.


If you’ve studied copywriting or marketing for any length of time, you’ve heard about this quite a bit; a lot of the best books written on the topic are – not ironically – written by folks who work(ed) with major firms, with LARGE advertising companies, and they endlessly, shamelessly, tirelessly harped on differentiation.

Now if an auto insurance company like Progressive needs to differentiate (even Geico has now stepped up with a far more ridiculous arsenal of ads, which I laugh at when I see), why wouldn’t a small business need it?

Wouldn’t a small business need to differentiate MORE?
You bet.

There are many people who do what you do out there.

I don’t say this to insult you but to be completely honest with you and to give you ammo for your own exceptional, epic brand.

I know this – as you probably do – simply because I work with people across almost every discipline you can imagine (to list some: psychics & healers, yoga instructors, engineers, inventors, conservationists, film makers, economists, performers, clothing designers, fine-artists, authors and coaches), and I can tell you that there are dozens, hundreds, THOUSANDS of people in the same businesses, “competing” for the same clients.

As you know, I’m not really into competing. I’m far more into you being fantastic at what you do and naturally standing out.

However, in order to do so, you need to craft your brand story and be able to differentiate yourself from the next guy.

How do you do this?

Key questions I have my clients answer during our work together:

1. What’s different about the way you do what you do?

If you make clothing, it could be something different about where you get your materials.

Like Emi&Eve – a past client of mine who harvests her metals from recycled bullets in Asia. Really inspiring huh? Yep.

2. What is unique about your approach that solves the problem / heals the pain in a new, inspiring, less invasive way that the others? 

Denise Pelletier, a severe brain injury surviver (and thriver, I should say), can easily inspire those in recovery with her incredible story. She feeds people hope where there may not have been any. It is known that hope can often be enough to help a person heal themselves.

3. What do you bring to the table that someone else simply can’t? (This is especially true in somewhat amorphous fields like mysticism and health. I say health because many people lay the same claims. How are you unique?)

Maybe you can read a person just by hearing their tone of voice? Belinda Davidson does this, and we had a blast putting together The School of the Modern Mystic based on her unique skills.

This is where I have people start. This is where we must really get cozy and be able to – honestly – answer those questions.

4. Is there some secret sauce you can mention – just barely – to get people curious?

BrandTruth, an exceptionally mysterious company I worked with helps companies identify where their products – in store – fail to make the sale. Their site is scant of details – for good reason – and instead, full of testimonials from powerhouse companies. This creates a desire to know more.

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What is something that is different and unique about you and your approach?
I love seeing your colorful feathers.

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