WHY & HOW Differentiating Yourself from the Competition Works

Whilst shopping around for a wedding photographer recently, I came across a photographer offering something so unusual and unique, something I had never heard of before, that I couldn’t help but want to find out more.

Like every wedding photographer, you already face competition from other wedding photographers. And believe me there are thousands of them. Most show a unique style; the lower end and less skilled photographers tend to have a point-and-snap feel to their photographs, the high end tend to have a photo journalism and fashion photography style but still combining all you would expect from a traditional wedding photographer.

But there is a problem: You and your competitors inherently sell the same thing. This means that your point of differentiation will have little to do with your product and everything to do with creating an aura around that product that others find fascinating. You could argue that price differentiates you, if you are cheaper, maybe I’m more attractive, or more expensive, my product must be worth the price, but then you run into the issue of “you get what you pay for” being too cheap may under sell you, being too expensive may make you lose potentially good clientele. So really, it still doesn’t differentiate you from all the other competitors  with similar pricing strategies.

So what was so fascinating to me that it kept me on his website for much longer than any other photographer’s site? What made me choose this photographer over all his competitors for my wedding day?…

“Trash the Dress”

He figured if you aren’t going to use it anymore, why not trash it! It’s just going to sit in your wardrobe for years, you’re not going to wear it again, so why not be a rebel and have some crazy fun with trashing it? Makes for some fabulous photographs to show off and an amazing album!

First, the concept activates the “mystique” trigger: “Who in their right mind would do that? What could they possibly be doing to trash the dress? Are the dresses really expensive and beautiful? Are they real brides or models in the the photographs? What do the photographs look like?”

Second, it activates the “prestige” trigger: “Well, if they offer such fantastic and crazy ideas and creativity, they must attract a rather high-rolling clientele. I wonder who he’s worked for in the past?”

Thirdly, this holy grail of wedding photography might trigger the “passion” trigger: creating a heightened desire for the fun and imaginative photographer to highlight your special day. “If he offers “Trash the Dress”, he must be an amazing visionary and fun photographer to work with! I trust he will turn my wedding day into a beautiful album of memories”

Finally, since there is something undeniably decadent about it, “Trash the Dress” would trigger the “rebellion” trigger: “I don’t care what anybody thinks about this! I’m going to do it!”

There’s more triggers… If you got the message out that you put as much care into the wedding photography as you do the “trash the dress” shoot, with the same focus on quality and consistency, then you’d be pushing the “trust” trigger.

If you set a limit on how many “Trash the Dress” days you were willing to shoot—”Only three left!”—you’d be working the “alarm” trigger.

And if you could make the claim that you were both the inventor of the “Trash the Dress concept” and that it makes for a very unique and enchanting album to show off, you’d be playing with the “power” trigger.

That, is how you might apply an approach to the puzzle of brand differentiation. Think about how these lessons could be applied to your own business or lives for that matter.

We are hard-wired to be fascinating as well as easily succumbed to fascination. It should come naturally to us – but it doesn’t. We tend to lose touch with our “unique fascination power”, so becoming fascinating means rediscovering those things that made us and potentially make us fascinating in the first place.

The goal is not to learn how to be fascinating –  it’s to un-learn how to be boring.

How could you go about differentiating yourself in a crowded market?

Will I be trashing my designer wedding Dress? Stayed tuned to find out!



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