I’ve choreographed cheerleading competition routines for the past ten years. I’ve worked with teams from across the country and all different levels. However, no matter the skill level, division, or potential, one thing has always remained true. I use what each team provides to their advantage. Each team has the potential to win but what they give me to work with determines their success.
So, what does this have to do with business and marketing? Everything. A business is only as good as their ability to position themselves ahead of the competition. As a marketer, I can develop plans and strategies that highlight a company’s value, but I can only showcase what they’re willing to do. Differentiation is developing (and showcasing) products and services that give you a competitive advantage over your target market. Just like with choreography, I can showcase a business’s “uniqueness,” but only if they’re willing to work at being unique.
Progressive and Geico are both major market competitors in consumer insurance. Their product offering is similar – providing home, vehicle, renter, and other insurance options. They both claim to have the lowest prices and best coverage. As an insurance consumer, how do you make a decision on who to use if they both are “identical?” You don’t. You choose to make your decision based on information provided to you through their marketing. Maybe you choose Geico because you can “save 15% in 15 minutes by switching.” Maybe you choose Progressive because you can “use the name your price tool and change your rate.” Their product offering may be similar, but the marketing and presentation of their tools set them apart from each other. Communicating their value proposition is key in differentiation, and one easy way to do that is through the use of social media.
Geico’s use of social media is expansive. With almost 500,000 likes on Facebook, they know how to keep people engaged. Their content is light, informative, and delivered in a shareable way. For instance, they utilize a liquid and linked strategy in which they create posts that are funny (see the Boyz II Men videos), informative (see Baby on Board), and interactive (see Are You a Road Hog Quiz) while also tying back to their brand. They provide content that is relevant to their customers and followers, but that also integrates well with their brand identity.
Geico has a long history of creating funny content that highlights their main value proposition (save 15% in 15 minutes or less). The key part here is that they continued the theme from television commercials through to their social media. This way, instead of just showing the value to customers, now they can involve customers in that process.
Everybody knows Flo, the Progressive girl. This bubbly babe has been making us laugh for years, so much so, that she has her own Facebook Page with nearly five million likes. Flo brought us the Name Your Price Tool and the Compare Insurance Rates in Minutes. Progressive has developed a personality that is unique to their brand, seen through Flo’s domination of the social media scene. Progressive’s brand page boasts a little over 400,000 likes which pale in comparison to Flo. So, why did they make a separate page? Easy, because they gave the market what they wanted – a funny character that they can relate to.
The Progressive brand page provides followers content that is relevant and informative. Ways to park your car in the garage with a tennis ball, keep your yard in shape, and even ways to increase security defense with plants. All is relevant content, and it’s presented in a fun way, but it doesn’t compare to the branding they receive by using the Flo page. Flo’s content is shareable, extremely so. You won’t find tips, tricks, and other content of the like, but instead funny memes, GIFs, etc. The purpose? To keep things light, fun, and well, easily shareable to build their brand recognition.
I’ve simply touched the tip of the social media differentiation between these two competing brands, but you can see that they both separate themselves by providing different content and having a different purpose. Geico uses Facebook to forward reinforce their brand identity with consumers, ensuring they understand the company’s motives and personality. Progressive uses Facebook to increase brand recognition through Flo and retention through appealing information sharing.
No matter what industry you’re in, differentiation is key. What makes your pizza better? Why is your grocery store better? What is the difference between your handmade goods and the others’ handmade goods? You might have an answer. Just make sure you’re communicating it.