Silver Sonatas (Issue 723)

In which we are challenged to make our differentiators more obvious, easier to see.

I know I’m breaking your hearts and (despite my energetic “I embrace winter” public proclamations), I retreated last week to a warm weather island tourist location for a few days out of the cold.

From the “how quickly they forget” department: I admit it, I didn’t REALLY miss the single digit temperatures, the minus double digits wind chills, and the 70 inches of snow piled around my driveway. Embracing winter is a lot easier if you’re looking at palm trees and floating on trade winds.

However, I did miss my car. No, not my salt-covered beloved blue Saab, sitting quietly in its just-slightly-warmer-than-outside garage at home. Not that one. I missed my Hyundai Sonata. The silver one. You know, the one in the parking lot in front of Longs Drug store….

Which, on that particular morning happened to be one of TEN identical silver Hyundai Sonata rental cars parked in front of Longs Drugs.

So, absent a key (walking about in someone else’s pocket), I took to looking at the tourist litter in Sonatas’ seats in an effort to identify the right silver Sonata. Time consuming and, in a couple of instances, a little awkward.

More than once during the week, family members headed to the wrong silver Sonata. I did it once in a National Park visitor center parking lot, leaning up against what I thought was our car, waiting for my family, until the official renters returned. [“Our” car was the third Sonata away from the one I chose.] One night, my daughter mistook a silver Lexus for our Sonata. Wishful thinking, it was a pretty sweet looking Lexus.

As some of our recent research demonstrates oh-so-clearly once again, companies’ marketing and sales people believe they are clearly differentiated from their competitors and yet, like the Sonatas in the parking lot, they are not.The differences they see as providers looking at their competitors are not so obvious to their prospective clients. Their buyers must invest time to “look inside” each potential provider to understand more clearly how one firm is different from others and, even then, differentiation can be difficult.

We must again think and think again: Can we contrive something IMMEDIATELY distinctive or remarkable about us or our companies so that our prospective clients can distinguish us from our competitors on some basis, in a meaningful way, at first glance.

We took to leaving our Fodor’s guide on the front right dashboard.   Next time, I’m asking for RED!

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