Whatever your industry, ’we’re sure you’re familiar with the concept of the crowded market. The more players enter a particular space, the more rapidly the profit pool shrinks. And as countless businesses rush to scrape the bottom of the proverbial barrel, it’s easy to think that you have to play the same ruthless game to make any money.
Defining your “Only” offers a markedly different approach, one that saves you from the scrape. An “Only” identifies a “white space,” a distinct niche of opportunity, where a customer problem in your industry has yet to be clearly defined and solved — and, consequently, where desire for that solution is only expanding.
Our name — Only Co. — springs directly from our belief that companies thrive when they differentiate themselves in their respective markets, in a way that enables them to literally say, “We’re the only ones who do X” or “We’re the only ones who do Y, in this particular way.”
Let’s dig deeper into the characteristics of what makes an effective “Only” statement:
It’s crucial that customers know what you deliver and how you deliver it, and ultimately conclude that they can’t go without it. You should be able to clearly articulate why your business is the effective answer to their real needs — to sell the problem so clearly that they can’t see any answer but you.
To achieve this, your “Only” has to decisively speak the customer’s language. You must filter your communication through the lens of their needs and what they find valuable. When you do, you’ll end up with an “Only” that has customers legitimately excited to pay for your products or services.
An easy exercise to start you down the path toward an effective “Only” is to list out your competitors on a whiteboard, unpack their strengths and weaknesses (and the customers’ perceptions thereof), and drill down to what makes them unique. What you’ll find enlightening from this activity are data points around where you land among the competition — and how to pursue standing out even further.
If customers are going to gravitate toward you over your competitors, it’s going to require you to understand the specific problem you solve best. Customers need to know you’re the only ones who can deliver those exact solutions.
Imagine you’re a community bank that offers big bank products and has been around for fifty years, the only one in your community that can lay claim to that length of experience. You may have been able to coast, by default, on an “Only” that revolves around that time scale and those product offerings. But is it the most effective narrative?
That’s where the idea of a modern statement has to come into play. What was relevant to customers 20 years ago may not resonate anymore. Gaining market share in today’s economy requires understanding today’s customer demands, and crafting your message around what matters to them.
To recap: an effective “Only” is a statement that defines specific solutions that address what the market needs, what the market wants, and what you alone are able to deliver.
Customers should be able to look at what you offer and say, “I need that today, and out of all the choices available to me in this market space, you’re the only one that does that.”
The process of defining your “Only” requires significant customer empathy and deep customer research. You should expect to step outside of your typical work cadence and comfort zone to think critically about market issues and how they’re being interpreted by the rest of the world. You’ll need to don customers’ and competitors’ hats to get a feel for what they’re saying and hearing. You’ll need to take the sum of this data and determine where your company, its resources, and its strengths can be positioned to most effectively solve problems. And you’ll need to be able to explain that position succinctly and persuasively.
That may sound daunting, and that’s because it is. You should strongly consider hiring a company, like Only Co., that specializes in helping you define an “Only” that your team is excited to deliver on and your customer is excited to pay for.
Reenergize your marketing, empower your sales team, invigorate your culture, and solve real, distinct, and cool problems in your market. It all starts with knowing your “Only.”