Point of Difference (POD) is the proverbial “Big Kahuna” in your positioning statement. It’s the one piece of the statement that should be as distinctive, special and remarkable as possible, without descending into hyperbole, flights of fancy, or even truth-stretching. Not surprisingly, this can also mean that the POD is the most challenging part of a positioning statement to nail down.
Sometimes our POD is so deeply ingrained in our business’ DNA that it takes someone looking in from the outside to help clearly define it. When you’re on the inside, you may not even realize how remarkable or exceptional your POD is until you hear that perspective from others with more regular, direct experience or exposure not only with your business but with your competitors.
In a classic case of “the cobbler’s kids have no shoes,” this actually happened to me when Argentum was only a couple of years old. My colleague, Brad Farris, had arranged for me to meet one of his clients over lunch because he thought they needed my help. During the lunch, his client asked me how I was different than all of the other marketing consultants he had met. After thinking about it, I stammered a few things while Brad looked at me incredulously. “Susan,” he said, “YOU have a process!” To which I said, “doesn’t everybody?”
To me, having a process that was strategic and logical was just the right way to approach building positioning and marketing plans. I had no idea (shame on me) that other people might not approach these two critical pieces of marketing strategy in the same methodical, business-centric way.
In the eleven years since that fateful day, I’ve worked with many clients who had that same challenge. Through a combination of client/customer research and my own external perspective of their business and their category, we’re able to pull out and highlight the key pieces of company DNA that genuinely differentiates them from their competitors.
One recent client, a distributor in the technology space, is a great example of this. Establishing a strong POD in the world of distributors is especially tricky, since their business model involves selling the exact same products at the exact same price as their competitors. Even after 16 hours of internal interviews, no clear POD was emerging.
It wasn’t until I began talking to my client’s customers and the manufacturers my client represents that an industry-leading POD finally emerged. As it turns out, my client is doing what every distributor should do: invest in inventory and inventory planning to ensure that they’re almost always in-stock when customers need an item. And apparently it’s a dirty little secret in my client’s industry that distributors don’t actually do this.
The fact that my client actually does this not only distinguishes them versus their peers, it has also been one of the key reasons that they’ve been in business as long as they have. In fact, it’s considered a coup for a new product to be distributed by my client because of the gravitas they have in their industry.
This is how we defined their POD: “We hold the largest and most consistent inventory position in the industry.” It’s a pretty bold statement but, happily, it is 100% true and everyone in the industry would agree.
Watch this quick video to learn about some of the tools I use to help my clients uncover their POD: https://youtu.be/K_lHXM1dauY.