Recently, a client asked me to weigh in on the subject of differentiation. He was asked by a prospect, and I quote, “What value added services do you provide?”

The temptation here is to rattle off your great customer service, your economical prices, and talk about your equipment mix. But that just comes across as describing why your vanilla ice cream is better than someone else’s vanilla ice cream. It’s just ice cream and, to make matters worse, it’s vanilla. Where’s the differentiator? Sure, you can describe your ingredients. Perhaps your all natural or low-fat or yogurt-based and maybe your people scoop it better than anybody else. But in the end, you are just ice cream.

Maybe it’s just me who prides himself on being different but I would much rather give a creative answer to that question and lose then give the standard answer to that question and lose. I want my differentiator to be, well, different!

Value. Added. Services.

The Value that I bring goes beyond the product that I produce. Anyone can make ink or toner stick to paper. My Added Value is that I’m going to ensure that you have the right and best solution to meet your need. The Service I provide is not just in good communication but it starts with learning the story behind your printed piece and offering one or more ideas from which to choose.

Yes, I am taking a risk. If it’s conventional they want, they are probably not my customer anyway. This kind of client will forever chase the bottom dollar and I’m not interested in that race to the cellar. My customer appreciates and seeks out resourceful vendors. They recognize the fact that a printer is a printer is a printer. They are looking for a difference maker; someone who looks beyond the printed piece.

Coincidently, that is the exact Value that is Added to my Services.

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