Is Differentiation Marketing Dead? 💀

Is Differentiation Marketing Dead? 💀

The other day, I read a post on social media where some poor (and probably well-meaning) guy was writing the same ole, same ole attempt at differentiation marketing in staffing & recruiting. You know the drill: “All the other agencies suck. Let me tell you why we’re different.” 🥱 Big yawns.

Key topics:

✔️ Is differentiation marketing dead? If not totally dead, it’s on life support. So many businesses have very similar if not identical offerings. Sorry, but that’s reality. Trying to clinch your fists at the sky and tell the world you’re different is probably not making you the kind of money you want.
✔️ It reminds me of Wes Mantooth in Anchorman. Your clients are not gonna change your diapers and tell you that your hiney is special and different from everyone else’s.
✔️ Your clients care about results. Can you solve their problems? Can you relieve their pain? Can you make/save time or money for them? Running down your competitors or trying to tout how f**king “disruptive” you are = staying broke.
✔️ Make sure the people you’re interacting with are legit, ideal prospects for your business. Trying to market to the wrong folks is not gonna lead you anywhere good.
✔️ Tooting your own horn and making “how great we art” posts on social media might make you feel good in the moment and it may garner you some likes, comments, and shares… while leaving your bank account empty. You can have popular posts, a lot of followers, and even viral videos and still have an empty wallet.

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Transcription by

Hello, hello and welcome to today’s episode of the Causey Consulting Podcast. I’m your host, Sara Causey and I’m also the owner of Causey Consulting, which you can find online anytime at Today I want to talk about differentiation marketing. I read a post the other day, and I’m going to be necessarily vague here. I read a post the other day and it was very beggy in nature. It just I think my eyes did a full 360 degree revolution in their sockets. I eye-rolled hard because it was like, Oh, come on, dude. And the guy who posted it might be a nice guy. I don’t know him. And I don’t know his company. But I definitely know the stick behind it. And so this post was like, you know, hey, I want to tell you about how my staffing company is different from everybody else. And as I was reading this and doing my massive Tony Stark eye roll, I’m sitting here going, the fact that you’re posting that the fact that you are still in 2021, relying on differentiation, marketing, and getting online and doing this tap dance of, oh, let me tell you how we’re different. All of our competitors suck. But let me tell you why we’re different. That tells me you’re not different at all. Like it reminds me of that scene in the first anchorman movie, where the news team has a confrontation with Wes Mantooth, played by Vince Vaughn. “Rub Vaseline all over your hiney and tell you that it’s special and different from everyone else’s.” That scene still cracks me up. Unfortunately, your hiney is not special and different from everyone else’s. And likewise, if you’re still out there, doing the old school marketing, that’s only based on differentiation, marketing, hey, let me tell you how the competitors are this but we’re that I’m pretty sure you’re not seeing the kind of return on investment that you want. Now, you may know if I’m sure you’ve heard me say this before, and you’ve probably read it on my website. There’s not a business mistake you’ve made that I probably haven’t made myself. And I remember in my first iteration of self employment when I was trying to be my own contingency based staffing agency, I took some runs at doing retained search, but I pretty much was doing contingency based staffing. I painted myself into a corner inadvertently, because I had been taught to sell from that differentiation marketing standpoint, you get the person on the phone, or you get out face to face with a prospect and you go through this spiel about Okay, well, we don’t use job boards, we don’t run ads, we’re not out there looking for the low hanging fruit. Anybody can put an ad out on indeed, and get people that are pounding the pavement actively looking, maybe they’re about to get fired. Or maybe they just job hop relentlessly. But we get the upper echelon of candidates, we have access to these people that aren’t on the job boards. It’s kind of like a weird, you know, carrot and stick thing, like I’m gonna dangle the promise of these highly exclusive elite candidates you’ve never heard of. And and hopefully you’ll sign the fee agreement and give us some search assignments to work on. And I had this dream, when I started my own staffing agency that I was going to be this like, super elite headhunter. And I don’t mean that in the sense of only looking for C suite level positions. You know, there are some recruiters out there that they might only make four or five placements in a year and they make really good money because they’re only placing like executive VPs, presidents, CEOs and so on. That’s really never been anything that I’ve had a high degree of interest in the people that do it. Some of them do it very well and hats off to them. That wasn’t for me. What I’m talking about is I really wanted to have that reputation of Okay, I am going to be like a surgeon with a scalpel. I’m not going to throw 100 resumes at you in a way that’s not very artful and frankly, is kind of sloppy, the people that I send to you, we have for each search assignment that you have, excuse me, that you have. It’s Oklahoma and there’s already allergies, even though it’s January. For each search assignment. You have, I may only be sending you one or two candidates, but those candidates are going to make all the sense in the world. So you can decide if you want to have 10 candidates just for the sake of volume, or if you want to have one or two surgically precise candidates. And I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with that, I myself am still a huge fan of quality, over quantity, I think anybody can just go and sling resumes out, it’s more important to find people that actually makes sense for what the client is looking for. The part that tripped me up was this, oh, you know, not going to use the job boards, I’m going to burrow in deep, I’m going to find the secret cache of candidates that are out there, I’m going to find all this fresh meat that you never even dreamed of. Unfortunately, and unknowingly by doing that, I really painted myself into a corner, I made things unnecessarily difficult on myself and the clients didn’t care. And I want to, I want to repeat that because I want to make a point to you. The clients didn’t care, they didn’t give a damn all this schtick about, oh, well, I’m not going to use the job boards, I’m not going to go and find these people that have their resume posted on four different sites. And they’re working with half a dozen recruiters and I’m sure you’ve already seen their resume at eight times before. I’m going to only burrow in deep. I’m going to go out there and be like a surgeon, I’m going to be so precise. No one gave a damn, they did not care what’s going on in the back of the house, so to speak, the kind of process that you’re using, people don’t care. They care about the result. How are you going to improve life for them? What are you going to do to make their situation better, faster, easier, whatever. And I didn’t know that at the time, I had to learn it the hard way. So by making all of these things difficult on myself and feeling like I had to jump through a lot of unnecessary hoops. And you know, I enjoy playing detective. I like getting the ungettable get to finding the unfindable find and I’m really damn good at it. That’s not me tooting my own horn if you called up anybody that’s ever worked with me in the past and said, Hey, is she is she being truthful about that? Is she really good at finding the unfixable? Fine, they’d be like, yeah, even if they didn’t like my personality, if they thought I was way too direct, you know, or, or maybe I didn’t fluff their ego enough at the at the watercooler or the coffee pot, they’re not going to tell you anything negative about my skill set, I promise you. The clients want the best person for the job. They’re not worried about did you find this person on indeed or monster or zip recruiter? Do they have a resume posted somewhere on social media? Are they working with other recruiters at this point in time? me trying to use that as a big marketing tool. And look back on it now with all this hindsight and additional business knowledge that I have. And I think, Well, God, it’s not a wonder. You know, it’s not a wonder that I was frustrated all the time. It’s not a wonder that I felt like Prometheus trying to shove the boulder up the hill and then having it roll back on me all the time. I made life unnecessarily difficult for myself. And and again, the clients didn’t care. It didn’t make them any, nevermind what I was doing or not doing to find the people they cared about the end result. I had been taught some techniques that had gone out of date, and out of style. When I’ve preached to you guys about not burying your head in the sand, not getting confirmation bias and ignoring any signs or signals that might indicate you need to make changes, I’m speaking to you from the heart, I have lived it. And I know how frustrating it is when you feel like you’re putting forth so much effort, you’re working so hard, and you’re not seeing a return on the investment. You’re spending money hand over fist and none of its multiplying for you. You may as well just take that money out to your burn pit or your chiminea and set it on fire because it’s not doing a damn thing to come back to you. I know how depressing it is to feel like your business is an exercise in futility or maybe even that you’re cursed. You know, I remember times where I’d bury my head in my hands and I would think how can I have been so good. Doing this job. I’m talking about billing millions of dollars, putting a lot of money in the pockets of other people being a top level producer. But yet when it’s time for me to do that for myself, I feel hamstrung and it caused a lot of sleepless nights and anxiety and panic attacks and depression for me. So when I tell you Don’t be willfully ignorant. And don’t be afraid to change your techniques and pivot. I’m speaking to you from the heart, and from true direct experience. So like with this guy and his posting about, let me tell you why we’re different. Look, there are so many people out there in the staffing and recruiting world, as well as other industries where their song and dance is, I’m going to tell you why our competitors suck. Our competitors are all a bunch of sharks, a holes there, they just care about money. They run people through like it’s a cattle call. But we’re different, we’re so much more humane, we’re so much more artful insert virtue signaling here of any kind that you can imagine. They suck, we’re great. And then they wonder why the market doesn’t respond favorably. Now they might get likes and comments and shares, they may get people online, giving them an ego boost. Well, that’s great. It’s it’s awesome that you guys really care about people, you guys are wonderful. This is just this is heartwarming, this video makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside, but then they don’t get any business out of it. Likes comments and shares are meaningless. If they’re not converting into revenue. You might see somebody out there that has 50,000 followers, if it’s just for show or for ego, and that’s all they care about, hey, mazel tov, go go forth and do it. If you’re trying to monetize your business, if you want to make money and have a for profit enterprise, and you’ve gotten all these likes, comments and shares, but nobody’s converting into an actual customer, you need to think about why that is, if you’re just doing things online, for the sake of your own ego, or to trash talk people that did you’re wrong, it’s not going to lead you in the direction that you want to go. And again, I understand, trust me, I’ve had some horrible experiences in the staffing business, there are plenty of people that, you know, if I never see them again, for the rest of my life, I won’t feel sad about it. They weren’t people that I particularly liked or cared for, but wasting my time getting on social media, or a blog or whatever, podcast, whatever. And go on here, let me tell you why all of my competitors suck. And I’m paramount to all of them. It’s a waste of everyone’s time, you might as well not even expend the oxygen that it’s going to take from your body to record something like that, because it’s not going to convert into sales. Now, if you go forth and try to do some research, you’re gonna find people who are still clinging to the idea of differentiation, marketing, and they will tell you it’s not dead. Anybody who says that it’s dead, or it’s, let’s say, highly ineffective. Now, maybe not completely dead, but just highly ineffective and difficult to make work. Oh, those people are wrong. differentiation, marketing is still important, you’re going to find cogent arguments on both sides of the fence. What I can tell you is that from my experience, both my direct experience as an entrepreneur, and knowing what it’s like to run a business that fails, and knowing what it’s like to run a business that really sprouts wings, takes off and soars as well as people that I have worked with in coaching and consulting capacities, watching the people who have become clients that have done really well and watching people that did not become clients and have fallen off the cliff, I can tell you, if you are really making differentiation, marketing, a core component of what you’re doing, you’re probably not making the kind of money that you want to make. And it’s not a surprise. There are a lot of industries now, where people have very similar offerings, trying to get back to this idea of reinventing the wheel. Oh, like, Okay, look, coaching is such a great example of this. There are so many coaches out there. And now they’re even all of these offshoot cottage industries that have sprung up where it’s like, oh, I help coaches with social media marketing. I help coaches with their back office accounting. I help coaches find virtual assistants, I help coaches with their sales copy. So it’s like not just that coaching itself is a bloated, insane industry. But there’s then all of these offshoots of the bloated, insane industry that are becoming bloated and insane. It’s like, how are you going to get on the phone with somebody and say, all right, well, I help coaches find virtual assistants. But let me tell you why all my competitors suck. And I’m the best like, what? First of all, who even cares? Like if somebody needs a virtual assistant, there are so many ways that they can go online to a platform like Fiverr, or Upwork, or Freelancer and find those individuals for themselves. Like if you’re getting on the phone with prospects and telling them, Well, here’s what how all these other virtual assistant companies suck, and why we’re great, I doubt you’re making the kind of revenue right now that you want to be, in my opinion, and in my experience, one of the most valuable tools, instead of trying to run everybody else down and go through some dog and pony show about how your methods are so different and cutting edge, especially if the customer is sitting there and there are the prospect is sitting there and their eyes are glazing over and you’re like, I don’t care, I just want to know how you’re going to solve my problem, I just want to know how you’re gonna get rid of some pain that I’m in doing going through that dog and pony show is not going to matter to them, you want to be ensuring that you are speaking to the right prospects in the first place. You know, like earlier this year, I recorded an episode where I talked about if you’re the Rolls Royce of your industry, but you’re getting on the phone with people that are in the market for a bicycle, it’s a waste of everyone’s time and energy. So if part of your company’s mission statement is community involvement, you want to make sure that the prospects that you’re engaging with are people for whom that’s important, it’s going to matter to them, if an important part of your outlet, okay, I’ll use myself as an example, if an important part of your communication style with prospects and clients is that you’re going to be super direct with them, you’re not going to beat around the bush, you’re not going to offer them a lot of fluff and sugarcoat things, you’re going to be very blunt and to the point, you need to make sure that you’re interacting with prospects that are open to that, you know, some people say that they’re comfortable with direct blunt communication. But then when you actually go ahead and do it, they freak out, or they get butthurt and offended. Okay, those are not that that’s not the right tribe of people that you want to be engaging with. So it’s extremely important, in my opinion, much more important than trying to do differentiation, marketing, is making sure that the people you are interacting with are ideal prospects for you in the first place, where you wind up wasting a lot of time, energy and money is by dealing with individuals that don’t make sense for your offering in the first place. I remember last year, I had a video that went viral. And from that video, I got two sales calls. Neither individual that I spoke with was an ideal prospect. Both of them were just sort of like advice seekers, and they wanted to have advice given to them either free or very low cost. And the service I offer is neither free nor low cost. So I’m like, Okay, this was a waste of everyone’s time, they were really just looky loos that wanted to see how much Intel they could pump for me for almost no money at all. So if I had shifted into differentiation mode and been like, Okay, well, I know you’re not hardly wanting to pay any money right now. But let me tell you why my competitors suck. And I’m the best, they don’t give a damn. They don’t care about that they didn’t have the money to really pay for my services. And in my opinion, I don’t think either person was all that motivated to make changes in their business yet, it wouldn’t have been a good fit. And it would have been an even bigger waste of everyone’s time than it already was. One final thought that I want to give you about this is if you are going out on social media or in your blog posts, and you just want to run down the competition, your whole focus is let me tell you why they’re bad. And I’m good. It really turns people off. And it makes them wonder, Well, what are what are you actually doing all day? Why do you have time to creep on all of your competitors? or Why are you Why do you have such an axe to grind? Like what what are you doing? How can you put something in a more positive framework to showcase what you are capable of instead of just using all your time to run other people down? Like it lends itself to the question of do you have any clients? Because if you had clients and you were busy and you were doing something productive, then you wouldn’t have time for all this other nonsense, right? Somebody who is creating does not have time to spend a lot of effort on destroying other people. Now if you have any questions about any of this, or if you’re kind of stuck in a loop about differentiation, marketing and you want to get some ideas about how to get off of it, you can slide into my DMs or you can join my email list. If you’re after free advice. I’m going to tell you up front. There’s no such thing as a free lunch. So I’m not going to give you free advice but you can certainly slide into my DMs or get on the email list and start getting some tips and tricks that will help you break out of that cycle. If you enjoyed today’s episode, please share it. If you haven’t already, take a quick second to subscribe to this podcast and leave a review for us on iTunes. Bye for now.

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