With so many businesses out there providing products and services similar to yours, it is critical to find that element that differentiates your company. In order to be successful, you must be able to stand out in the crowd. It is not always an easy thing to do, but it is immensely important and each business owner should think about what makes their offering unique.
I recently attended a family function at The Peabody Hotel in Orlando. The hotel is a great property, and the famous Peabody ducks really make it special and unique.
In 1930, upon returning from a hunting trip, the general manager of The Peabody in Memphis had a tad too much to drink and decided to put some live ducks in the fountain of the hotel as a practical joke. It turned out, however, that the guests of the hotel loved the ducks, and they have been there ever since.
The five ducks now make their daily appearance at 11 a.m., arriving on a special elevator to be escorted down a red carpet by the official duck master to a John Phillips Sousa march. At 5 p.m., the processional is reversed as the ducks turn in for the night. A crowd of people is always there to observe this daily ritual.
Clearly, the processional of the ducks is unique in and of itself, but The Peabody has truly made the duck theme part of their identity. The theme appears everywhere, from the hotel’s logo to a large mural of three ducks painted on the roof of the hotel. Additionally, the gift shop is brimming with duck paraphernalia, everything from duck doorknockers to duck jewelry.
The ducks are one way The Peabody sets itself apart from countless other hotel franchises. What originally began as a practical joke has now become one of the most memorable elements of the guest experience.
Ben and Jerry’s ice cream is another example of a very unique business. In 1977, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield completed a correspondence course on making ice cream from Penn State and started their first store in Vermont in 1978. To celebrate their first anniversary, they had a free cone day, an event that still occurs to this day. They are, of course, known for their quirky flavors -- Chubby Hubby and Late Night Snack, for example. Additionally, they take 7.5 percent of the company’s before-tax profits to support community-oriented projects.
Ritz-Carlton provides another example of uniqueness in a business. The guest experience at a Ritz-Carlton is, by far, one of the best and most unique experiences around. They are known for their superb customer care.
Take some time to consider what makes your business different and think about how you can call attention to that aspect. To get you started, the following are just a few examples of how you can highlight your business’ uniqueness:
n Locally owned for X years.
n A three-generation family business that has been serving our customers for more than 30 years.
n Providing leading-edge technology to our customers since 2000.
n The only store located in [an area] that can help you with [your product or service].
n Have been in the same location for X number of years.
n The only independent store that provides [a product or service] in [an area].
Now go out and make sure you know what makes your business unique and remember to emphasize that uniqueness in all your customer interactions.
Jerome S. Osteryoung, director of outreach services at the Jim Moran Institute in the College of Business at Florida State University, can be reached at 850-294-7478.