Guest post by Omer Molad, Vervoe CEO and Co-Founder
Differentiation is at the core of any business strategy, because the ultimate marketing question is: Why buy this solution? Your answer literally defines you. But it’s not so easy in a crowded marketplace to clearly state what makes you different – and state it in an impactful way that inspires your users.
That’s a tall order.
I often get asked how we differentiate ourselves at Vervoe. The problem with that question is that the person asking the question usually assumes we’re trying to differentiate ourselves from other software solutions.
Sure, sometimes we are.
But most of the time we’re competing against the status quo because we’re creating a new way of connecting businesses and job applicants. By definition, we’re competing against the old way of doing things, the way it has always been done.
That sounds much easier than it actually is, because the act of differentiation is comparison. You’re comparing your business with other existing businesses.
We didn’t have that. No other existing business in history has taken our approach to hiring.
What makes us different? Everything.
Which is very difficult to explain to people.
Our challenge was to learn how to win people over without comparing ourselves to something familiar. Instead of saying “our thing is better than some other thing,” we needed a way to say “our thing is perfect for you.”
As we went on that journey, we made a lot of mistakes. But eventually we stumbled onto some things that work for us nearly every time.
What we found, fortunately, also works when we’re competing against other software solutions. It just works, period.
Tell your story
Usually, the most effective way of selling, especially in a B2B market, is to focus on the problem and how you solve it. And we absolutely do that. However, what we learned is that people also care why we decided to solve this particular problem. And it turns out that they care about that quite a lot.
Initially I was surprised by how many people, particularly buyers, asked why we started Vervoe.
And then it hit me.
We’re doing something new and they’re looking for a reason to trust us.
At a very fundamental level, people trust people. Once people heard that we decided to solve their particular problem for the right reason, they bought in.
So I started telling our backstory more and more, in articles, in interviews, on podcasts. How I went from a guy with a great résumé in Tel Aviv – top school and grades, military service, experience at the hottest startup – to the guy with a weird name and no degree that couldn’t even get an interview in Melbourne. How frustrated that made me feel, being disqualified from jobs I knew I could do, just because people weren’t prepared to look beyond my background on paper.
Time and again I saw how much this resonated with people from companies of all sizes. Because so many people have a story like mine. But also because of something else. People like the fact that we started our company for a reason they consider to be worthy.
Supporting us makes them feel good.
So we learned a very important lesson. Authenticity scales across all company sizes. Whether it’s SMB or enterprise, people connect with an authentic story. And, if they connect with us because of how we make them feel, our bond is inherently stronger.
Understand user experience from a new perspective
Our origin story gets people’s attention, but that just solves the first challenge – attracting customers. Once they become users, we have a different challenge: Creating the first-class user experience people have come to expect.
The user experience includes the entire experience inside and outside of the product. We believe that every interaction with the brand must bring clients one step closer to achieving their goals.
And here’s a paradigm shift we realized: An elite user experience isn’t about functionality. It starts with the mindset of the user.
For example, at Vervoe we help companies see how well job candidates can do the job they applied for. To achieve this, we need candidates to complete tasks. What we learned through an enormous amount of research and analysis is that the single biggest factor impacting completion rates is the candidate’s mindset.
If candidates feel like they are presented with an opportunity to showcase their talent and put their best foot forward, they’ll make an effort. This also depends on how much they want the job. Conversely, if candidates feel like they’re being asked to jump through arbitrary additional hoops, they are much less likely to invest in the process, especially if they have other options.
Once again, we focus on how we make users feel above all else.
Great service is always an unfair advantage
We’re a software company and we’re always trying to make our product more intuitive to use. This helps us scale. And, while it doesn’t make much commercial sense, we also relish the opportunity to speak to our customers. When we speak with our customers, not only do we learn, but we also have an opportunity to leave them with a positive feeling.
The thing about customer service is that everyone knows how important it is, yet very few companies do it really well. So any company that can consistently deliver exceptional customer service has an unfair advantage over its competitors.
It doesn’t matter if you’re selling vacuum cleaners, air travel or software. People remember great service. And they remember it because of how it made them feel.
So while we’re always aiming to offer low-touch experience, we’re also secretly hoping we get an opportunity to provide service. Put differently, we relish each opportunity that comes along.
Treat your customers like humans – simple, right? Not quite
In software, we like to talk about users, buyers and ideal customer profiles. The reality is that we’re dealing with humans. And at a very basic level, they’re just like us. They get confused if it’s not clear enough, frustrated if it’s not simple enough and really mad if it’s unfair. But if we help them do what they’re trying to do, and we make an effort, odds are they’ll respond.
People don’t sit at a café and talk about some feature they used. They talk about the service they received, the story they heard and the experience they had.
When you can differentiate by how you make people feel, you’re winning.