CLAIM OF QUALITY
Here’s a question I have posed to many owners of creative industries businesses: what differentiates you from your competitors?
I’d estimate that 90% of them reply with some variation on this answer: we do quality work.
This may well be true, but the problem is that it’s no real point of difference. Because every one of your competitors can say they do quality work and lots of them do. Your potential client is probably choosing from a range of suppliers, all of whom provide a level of quality that they’d be satisfied with, whether or not you would be.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t compete on quality. But it does mean that you have to be able to express clearly what makes your product a quality one. Not always easy for a creative product or service.
You can’t assume that your customer knows that difference as well as you do. I’d suggest that the average customer doesn’t know what makes one design job or marketing campaign or creative experience better than another.
It’s possible to drill down into some of the elements of quality, so that you can illuminate your potential clients on what quality means in your particular field – and why they should choose you over your competitors.
- Fitness for purpose: perhaps your product perfectly solves the problem your client has. Perhaps it does so more efficiently or more easily than your competitors. Consider demonstrating this through testimonials from previous clients who had similar briefs. Can you even go as far as offering a guarantee?
- Durability: how long will it be before your work has to be updated or replaced? If your product solves the customer’s problem for longer than your competitors, you have a claim to quality.
- Anticipation of future needs: quality products and services don’t just meet the client’s stated needs, they also meet needs the client didn’t even know they had. By anticipating those needs, designing your product accordingly, you demonstrate your superior knowledge of the client’s issues.
- Technical accuracy: if you’re offering a product or service where precision, accuracy and attention to detail are important, then these can be potent ways to demonstrate quality.
- Communications and complications: How easy are you to deal with? How contactable and available? If difficulties arise, how will you fix them? Will the client have to pay? A quality product will often come with an assurance that any glitches will be fixed free of charge.
- Additional features: perhaps your service comes with valuable additional features which your competitors don’t offer. As long as these are genuinely useful extras and not meaningless freebies, you can point out the extra value your client gets from paying for quality.
There will be other hallmarks of quality, no doubt ones which are specific to the industry sectors you specialise in. But having identified the ones which matter to your customers (not necessarily the ones which matter to you) the next step is to check that your service really is of a high quality.
To do this, undertake an honest and rigourous assessment of your service against your competitors. How does it stack up on the key elements of quality you’ve identified? To obtain an objective view, consider outsourcing this task to someone with no vested interest. The results may surprise you.
Ultimately, you’re arming yourself with the weapons you need to defend your claim of quality. You want to turn that generic cry of ‘we do quality work’ into something that genuinely sets you apart from your competitors. Let it instead explain in which ways your work is of high quality, and why that matters to your customer. Then you may truly have a point of difference.