Discover What’s Truly Unique About Your Brand

Discover What’s Truly Unique About Your Brand

Probably the least unique word to describe one’s brand is, well, “unique.” Almost everyone says they are but saying and being are two different animals. What’s more, some businesses and organizations can’t even identify to themselves what’s truly different about them among their competitors.

While we sometimes question our own personal “normalcy” (does anyone else feel/think/act this way, or is it just me?), that is the very self-conscious question businesses should be asking themselves. Does anyone else feel/think/act as we do? If the answer is no, that’s cause for great celebration (at least from a marketing standpoint) because that genuine distinction is the foundation upon which absolutely everything about your brand is built.

But…what if you don’t know how you’re different, or even if you are? Again, there is a lot of ground between saying you’re unique, believing it and, ultimately, proving it. You can almost hear Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders belting out “Brass in Pocket”: I’m special, so special, I gotta have some of your attention; give it to me! But how?

For every not, there’s an “is”
Sometimes it’s best to discover who or what your brand is by knowing what it’s not. For example, if you’re a small company with only a few (albeit dedicated and talented) employees, you wouldn’t make promises or claims that could only be delivered by a large staff. You’re not a big company, and that’s more than okay. It might just be better and exactly what your prospects are looking for.

Staying with our size example, because your company is not big, it is likely nimble, flexible, less bureaucratic and more customer-centric. When you’re assessing what your brand is not, always look on the other side of the mirror to see what it is.

Lead with who you are
While understanding what you’re not is crucial, be sure to meet prospects with confidence in who you are. Make sure that what you share about your brand is memorable and credible. Knowing how to pitch your truly unique brand also means knowing what your prospective customer wants. Easier said than done – not just in determining what they want, but also in knowing what you can deliver. Sometimes we are too close to our brands to discern that distinctive quality that really makes us stand out. A helpful approach might be to poll your current customers about what they like most (and least) about your brand or start insightful conversations online.

Get it on the table
For starters, sit down with your team (preferably away from the workplace) and make a list of your company’s pros and cons, strengths/weaknesses, is/is not’s. Talk openly and honestly about everything, from the clothing you wear to the way you answer your business line, the effort you bring to a client meeting, the quality of your product or service, and the manner and time frame in which it’s delivered. Nothing is too inconsequential in this important time of self-discovery.

Assign roles to your team
In the “mini-retreat” described above, decide whose role will be what going forward, once free discussion has concluded. Some of these roles might include:

o The Research Assistant: This is the one (or more) who identifies prospects and their needs and gathers information about your competitors’ strengths and shortcomings.
o The Sleuth: This is the “secret shopper” who engages first-hand with your competition to investigate what it does well and what could be improved.
o The Demonstrator: This is the person who is most comfortable pitching to potential customers the value of your brand and how it can benefit that particular prospect. This person may vary, depending on what is being presented.
o The Truth Teller: This is everyone on your team offering an honest assessment of what could change or be improved in your company. You can offer your suggestions anonymously, if this is more comfortable. Again, don’t hesitate to solicit your current customers’ opinions, too.

Be experts in a niche area
Many brands specialize in fulfilling a specific consumer need. Take every opportunity through every available means (and there are many!) to let customers and prospects know why you can be trusted as the niche expert they seek.

Focus on purpose
Here’s a great example, provided by author Jesse Lyn Stoner, of focusing on purpose: “When I’m at a cocktail party and someone asks me what I do, I have a choice about whether I want to talk to them or not. If I say, ‘I’m a consultant,’ their eyes glaze over, and they move on to the next person. If I say, ‘I help leaders and their teams create a shared vision and put it into action,’ they’re usually curious and begin to ask questions.” Focus on the end-result or experience your brand makes happen, not the services or products you provide.

Don’t copy, and don’t be copied
While knowing what your competition is up to is always good marketing practice, trying to replicate it will likely result in lackluster results and an identity crisis. Choosing a different angle within your particular industry is a more productive – and distinctive – tactic. For example, when Progressive Insurance developed a tool that allowed adjusters to immediately and accurately provide claims assistance at the site of an accident, it distinguished itself among the insurance giants and has since enjoyed great commercial success.

On the other side of the coin, don’t allow your own brand to be replicated. Once you’ve created and perfected an attribute that is truly exceptional, make sure it’s not something others can just as easily do. Pinpoint what is timeless and time-honored about your brand and ensure that your entire team makes showcasing and strengthening that asset their number one priority.

Our team of experts can help you discover what’s unique to you and, once identified, make the very most of your special qualities.


The Unique Challenges (and Infinite Rewards) of Marketing Senior Living

The Unique Challenges (and Infinite Rewards) of Marketing Senior Living

As marketing and public relations professionals in the senior housing niche, we at IVY are intimately aware of the unique challenges and rewards of the journey from individual homeownership to retirement community living.

Not only have we nearly 30 years of experience crafting the right messages and communications for those seniors and their loved ones contemplating a move to a senior living environment, we have personal and very deeply felt connections to this life transition in our own families.

Choice or Necessity?
What are the “right messages” for this monumental decision? Let’s start by saying that sometimes it’s not a decision at all. All too often, people are forced into a situation that requires care beyond what they or their family can provide, and they must “go somewhere” on a dime. In such cases, the sales cycle is short, and decisions are based principally on price and proximity to the primary family care taker.

A move to community senior living, however, should not be a dire necessity. This is not how our clients wish to welcome new residents. Still, that predicament is likely and understandable, as many of us are hesitant to move from the perceived independence associated with managing our own homes unless we have to.

The Beautiful Truth
Indeed, while senior living has evolved dramatically over the past decade, much slower to change is the perception by the aging population of their options. It’s extremely difficult to get past seniors’ preconceived notions of what “those places” are like and share the reality of the vibrant, engaging, carefree lifestyle that awaits them.

But share we must. The absolute truth is that our retirement community clients offer opportunities and freedom that older adults never dared imagine. The messages we help our clients to convey are, quite simply, that a senior living environment is an optimal choice.

Today’s senior living communities are stunning – not only in their physical accommodations, but in all they have to offer their residents – endless possibilities they would never have had the chance or inclination to experience before, and the liberty to pursue them without the burdens of managing a household.

Friendships blossom and flourish in senior living communities; loneliness and depression fade like the stress and fear associated with the move in the first place.

The Obstacles
Undeniably, fear and stress are realities for most people contemplating a move to a retirement community. For most potential buyers of senior housing, the move signals that they are aging, an acknowledgment few relish. It is also one of the most expensive decisions to make and has a sense of finality to it, because many assume that a senior community is the last place they will ever live.

This is not something we or our clients try to downplay or disguise. We know that effective marketing for senior living must include honest addressing of prospects’ concerns as well as profound understanding of just how different this industry is from others. Rarely is an offering as life-altering as senior housing, and most markets are not subjected to such intellectual or emotional disconnect.

Bridging the head and heart can take a very long time for independent living accommodations where residents do not need assisted or skilled care. It also takes many visits, calls and assurances from a trusted source, usually the sales person, as well as other residents to close the deal. It is not uncommon for there to be 12-14 interactions with a potential resident prior to making the sale of an independent senior living residence. Once the decision to buy into or rent at an independent senior living community is made, it becomes a logical, well-planned transition without the emotional acceptance.

Sharing the Truth
We are as excited to tell everyone about our clients’ amazing communities as they are!

Strong is the bond we have with our clients in senior housing, and great are its rewards. Our team has true partnerships with those we serve, bringing talent, skill and the latest trends and technology to the table as well as regular presence in their communities (telling the wonderful stories of both staff and residents), constant encouragement and enthusiasm, and in-depth knowledge of the exceptionally unique process of marketing senior living.

Our niche expertise in senior housing helps guide the lengthy process of making sales, all the while ensuring that messaging is relevant, useful and consistent. Our experience in the market also helps new clients determine their brand positioning – how they’re going to stand out among competitors.

Because we’re so entrenched in senior living, we can steer our clients in campaigns with fresh content, creative advertising and a blend of up-to-the-minute digital and traditional strategies to keep them top of mind and eventually drive sales into target markets.

We at IVY Marketing have the distinct challenge, and joy, of helping shift misconceptions and, in doing so, helping seniors discover what should and truly can be their golden years.