The Path to Distinction: How to set your business apart

Posted On June 3, 2024

How do you set yourself apart from your competitors? The first step is becoming distinctive.

How do you do that? Scott McKain can tell you.

McKain, our guest in the latest episode of “What’s Working with Cam Marston,” is a speaker, author. consultant and Sales and Marketing Hall of Famer who has put a lot of study and research into how a company or brand can become distinctive.

“Distinction to me is being the go-to in your category,” he said. “Why would a customer choose you instead of the other alternatives in the marketplace?”

For many of us, it’s because of first impressions – and those are typically made through the customer service experience. A lot of hotels have nice rooms, for instance, but what is the check-in experience like? How can you make that distinctive from your competitors?

The founders of Enterprise Rent-A-Car didn’t offer better cars than their larger competitors, McKain notes – they provided a different experience by taking the car to the customer.

McKain listed four Cornerstones of Distinction:

  • Clarity – Being clear about who you are
  • Creativity – Finding a unique take on it
  • Communication – Telling a story about how you impacted a customer
  • Customer experience focus

These cornerstones may be easier to implement in some industries than others, of course. But McKain challenged entrepreneurs and managers to think about the best customer experience they’ve had outside their specific industry, and to try to implement a few of those things into their own business.

“You won’t do everything, but you can do a couple things,” he said. “What are you doing that people talk about?”

McKain offered the examples of a plumbing company whose plumbers were impeccably clean and well-dressed, and a steakhouse whose waiters were “intrapreneurs,” offering business cards to diners and encouraging them to ask for them by name on their next visit.

But distinction’s only the first step, McKain added. From there, the next goal is to become iconic.

“What iconic is,” he said, “is that you’re so distinctive, you transcend your category.”

Categories: Blog, Entrepreneurship, What's Working with Cam Marston