It was a beautiful fall day. The sky was clear, the weather was mild, and the sun was out in full force; the birds were chirping and the grass was green; the leaves started changing, but only slightly.
In short, it was the best day of my life.
What happened that day? I got married to my extraordinary wife.
I never felt better. Leading up to it, however, was a different story.
Planning a wedding is hard. It’s easy to underestimate the sheer number of decisions needing to be made.
From the outside, yes it looks like a big ordeal. But from the inside, it’s even more involved than it looks.
At least that was my experience, and I have a background in event planning.
During the planning process, you start looking for all of the vendors and suppliers you’ll need for the wedding.
You have venues to consider, photographers, caterers, florists, bakers, suit and dress stores, restaurants, officiants, musicians, limo drivers, hair stylists, decorations, wedding invitations, bachelor/bachelorette planning, and the list goes on and on… endlessly.
I was reflecting on how many decisions we made. Some were easy, and some were not.
When it came to selecting a DJ for the evening festivities, we were given several recommendations from friends and did some additional searching to find the right person or company.
A wedding DJ is important. They set the tone for the entire evening. The proceedings are either under their control, or it’s out of control in general.
Friends of ours referred us to a DJ group they used for their wedding and gave glowing recommendations.
They couldn’t stop talking about how amazing this DJ and his wife were for their wedding reception. They told us that they wanted to literally throw money at them by the end of the night, they were that good.
“What did this DJ do that was so special?”, I wondered.
It turns out, it had very little to do with the music or performance, although that was great too.
“Wait, what?”, you might ask? Why would someone rave about a DJ service outside of their ability to play great music and keep things on schedule?
It turns out, the number one thing that came up during their raving review was the extras they provided. The differentiators.
This DJ group (a husband and wife duo) was not like any of the other DJs we encountered in our search. And we wouldn’t have known to even look for it, had someone not told us.
Their difference is that they take care of all those little things that could possibly (and often do) go wrong in an evening.
They make sure everyone is where they are supposed to be at the right times. They make sure the speeches run according to schedule. They even bring a Mary Poppins-style bag containing everything a bride and groom could possibly need in the course of the evening.
They think of it all so we don’t have to.
In short, they were our advocates. They filled all of the missing gaps and had years of experience behind them. They made sure almost nothing could go awry. If something did go wrong, they found a way to fix it.
The DJs’ differentiators were their willingness and ability to take control of issues either before they happened, or right as they happened, without intervention from the bride and groom.
Their difference they provided was offering relief for my bride and I from the stress of problem solving when unforeseen incidents cropped up.
Their ability to produce an amazing evening from a music perspective is table stakes in their industry. All DJs we spoke to seemed to have that.
But their willingness to go the extra mile on the day and their experience to help us to plan things properly in advance was not something anybody was willing (or able) to offer like they did.
In business, the best strategic advantage you can have is a differentiator.
When comparing apples to apples, it’s the ones with a valued difference that will win every time.
What makes you and your business so unique that you can’t be directly compared to someone else?
For me, I offer conflict-free advice and help business owners win back their time. I offer advocacy for their cause and alignment with their interests.
I don’t know of any others who offer the same kind of service that I do, which makes it easy to contrast against traditional consulting and agency service providers.
And that’s why I get referrals. That’s why companies stay with me.
What do you offer that is both valued by your clients or customers and can’t be found elsewhere? What do you do differently that your customers tell you they value?
It doesn’t need to cost you a single penny. All it takes is listening to your customer and watching for opportunities to give them a better experience.
If you have a key differentiator, I’d love to hear it in the comments below.
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