Uniquely Better

214: Two Words That Define Your Auction Brand

I applaud how auctioneers have been using this mandatory slow down to focus on retooling some of their company promotion. It’s a healthy, positive response to this extra time on our hands. Auctioneers have been emailing me about marketing to sellers and even just generic brand messaging for buyers.

I’ve yet to create a single promotional piece, though. So far, everyone has been stumped with one question I’ve asked in the first email or two.

How is your organization uniquely better than your customer’s other options?

(I got that question from management guru, Andy Stanley, founder of Catalyst, a TED-style leadership conference at which thousands of for-profit & nonprofit professionals have gathered every October since 1999.)

Uniquely better proves a two-fold challenge. First, you have to be better than the competition in at least one aspect of your service. You don’t have to be the biggest or the cheapest or the most known. Better can be small & nimble or large with impeccable systems. Better can be extensive auction experience or impressive tech-savvy with a fresh approach to auctions. Better can be a generalist in a small geographic area or a niche specialist across the country. Better can be a cloud of cash flow or the hungry motivation of a sole proprietor. The same holds true for corporate solutions or family feel.

It’s important to note that what makes you better for one audience might make you unappealing to another. That’s where the unique part comes into play. Appealing to a specific audience makes your prospect pool smaller but deeper. So, what makes you different from all the other companies in your space? Unique is how you accomplish better, what your specific brand message is in the marketplace. “Auction” isn’t unique. Even “online auction” isn’t special anymore. (Those have been answers I’ve received from prospects.) What’s notable about how you solve the seller’s problem or meet the buyer’s desire? What extra miles do you walk? What is your distinctive brand personality?

All sellers want faster money, easier money, and/or more money. All buyers want a marketplace that reliably has what they’re looking for. Buyers and sellers need proof that you can deliver on those goals. Hopefully, you have that proof. And hopefully, that proof supports your uniquely better claims.

Without being unique, your service or marketplace falls to a commodity. Without being better, your company has to compete on cost. So, what do you do if you’re new in the business or well behind established brands? Determine a narrow lane in which you are proficient. That could be an asset category, a geographic area, a specific technology, or a dedication to Fortune 500 consistency in visual media—to name a few. Next, work on different messaging to your target audience until you start to see results from a specific approach. Or test your core message on different audiences. Then, do more of that message to the audience that connects most with it.

In the meantime, work on the “better” part. Watch online tutorials. Take classes. Read nonfiction books. Study how other vendors talk to your shared prospect pool; note the images they use. Join forums and groups on Facebook, and engage in the conversation. Ask lots of questions. Leverage surveys and analytics. Track everything. Maybe even hire a business coach. 

You can catch confident brands and pass complacent companies around you, but you’ll need to accelerate down the uniquely better lane. Thankfully for you and for me, that’s typically a place where there isn’t a lot of traffic.

Stock image(s) purchased from iStockPhoto.com

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