I love grilled cheese sandwiches. When I was little, I would ask for one every morning for breakfast. I would watch my mom spread mayonnaise on the outside of each piece of bread, put cheese in the middle, and grill it in the frying pan. As the mayonnaise crisped the outside of the bread, it gave the sandwich a subtle, tangy flavor. Once I had a taste of her grilled cheeses, most restaurant grilled cheeses lacked in comparison.
Fast forward a decade or two as my college roommate watched me put mayonnaise on a grilled cheese in horror. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” she exclaimed. Now she’s a mayonnaise-on-her-grilled-cheese devotee, but it was shocking to her at first.
So why am I talking about grilled cheese sandwiches on a marketing blog? I’ll explain.
Last week I talked about differentiating your business from competitors with attributes other than discounts or “deals” to achieve greater control and growth potential for your business. I called this differentiation your “secret sauce”—or mayo-on-a-grilled-cheese if you will. If you didn’t get a chance to read it, please click here.
I once asked a client, “What do you do better than anyone else?” Their answer, “We have the best customer service in town.” Maybe what they said was true, but the problem is, all of their competitors undoubtedly think (or hope) they have the best customer service in town too. Having the best customer service in town is like butter on a grilled cheese. It tastes fine, but it’s not unexpected and delightful.
So—how do you make your “secret (marketing) sauce” unexpected and delightful?
When you are contrary (or counter-intuitive) in the way you present your products and services, you will immediately become an expert as your customers silently think, “I never thought of that” or “I never thought of it that way.” Not only do you become unexpected and delightful… you become an expert. After all, experts teach you how to see, do and use things in a new or better way… not how everyone else does it. Experts are contrary.
Here’s an example. Piano teachers often start lessons by teaching the mechanics of reading music, teaching “middle c” and hand positions on the keyboard, and teaching chords and scales. I know a piano teacher who is much different, though. She doesn’t teach any of the aforementioned skills for the entire first month of lessons to her young students. Instead, she teaches them how to play simple songs with one finger. Immediately, her students become amazed at their newfound entertainment abilities. They perform to anyone who will listen and want to learn more and practice harder. That initial feeling, she says, is the magic of developing a dedicated and passionate piano player. Her waitlist is impossibly long… and she’s a piano teacher who (again) starts by teaching kids how to play “Happy Birthday” with one measly finger—no chords or harmonies involved. Some would ask her what she’s even thinking… but it’s that contrary value proposition that makes her an expert at getting kids passionate about being piano players. She doesn’t need to offer discounts or have the lowest price in town to maintain her waitlist.
Now it’s your turn. What do you do that is contrary? What do you do that makes your customers so passionate that they keep coming through the door (or filling your own waitlist)?
Warning: You might not actually know. In fact, most of you are reading this saying, “I’m not different… I just work hard and am good at what I do.” That’s okay! There’s help out there and it’s closer than you think. Simply call a customer. Ask them what you do that is contrary to the others.
I’d love to hear what you find out about your own expertise. Email me and let me know at email@example.com.