Differentiation Promises – Why Most of them Sound Generic, and What To Do About It.

Do you know how to create unique taglines and elevator pitches – brief statements that *truly* differentiate you – versus ones that sound like everyone else?


If you don’t know, don’t worry. Big ad agencies that I’m sure are getting paid a lot more than you and I often don’t seem to know how either. I am going to explain why most “differentiators” out there don’t help differentiate – I call them “Generic Differentiators”.


So, what is a “generic differentiator?”  It’s a term I created to describe a tagline or ad pitch that is supposed to differentiate but ends up doing the opposite.


For example:

“Our Clients Come First”

“We Listen”

“We Care”

“Working Hard to Be Your Number One Choice”

“Dedicated to Understanding Your Goals”

“Helping You Reach Your Dreams”

“Leading Service Provider of…”

“Providing Comprehensive Professional Advice”

Do you recognize any of these statements?  Of course you do!


We see them everywhere – on billboards, in advertising, and used as taglines by big and small companies in the same industries:  “we’re different because we care”, or “we’re different because we are dedicated to our clients’ needs”.


Newsflash – These kinds of statements are NOT differentiators. As much as the marketers, copywriters, and ad agencies want them to be, they are not.



#1:  Because They Are *NOT Different*.

If everyone is saying the same thing, it’s not different.  So, if everyone in your industry is communicating the same kind of message on every website, billboard, and brochure about how “we’re different because we care about our clients”, then using that same messaging is not going to differentiate you.


#2:  They are The BASELINE of Being in Business.

Listen, you are supposed to care about your customers. You are supposed to put your customers first.  You are supposed to be dedicated to understanding your clients’ goals. That is the baseline of being in business – not a core differentiator.

Using “generic differentiators” like the ones listed above aren’t going to set you apart from the pack, so you should consider distancing yourself and your marketing from relying solely on “generic differentiators” to carry the show.


How to Avoid Falling into the Trap of Creating and Using Generic Differentiators


Step 1: First, you need to identify and list out on paper the “generic differentiators” in your industry so you are clear about which phrases to avoid when marketing your business (at least when creating standalone statements).  Your list will include two things: 1) the baseline of what is expected and assumed of your industry and 2) statements that you see everyone else in your industry already using.


For example, if you are a financial advisor, your “Generic Differentiators” list might include: “Providing comprehensive financial advice”, “Helping you reach your goals” (keep adding to this, there are at least 5 more you could identify, right?).


If you’re a life coach, your list will likely include “helping you reach your goals”, “helping you get unstuck” (keep going, there are a bunch more like this, right?)


OK, so these are the BASELINE of your industry, and/or what everyone else seems to be saying.


“To understand what’s different about you, you need to know what’s the same about everybody else.” Via @CristiCooke


Step 2:  Take a look at your key marketing messages – your taglines, headlines on your website, elevator pitch, LinkedIn profile, etc.  Are your key messages focusing solely on your industry’s “generic differentiators” like you listed in Step 1?  If so, don’t panic – now you are ahead of the pack, just by becoming aware of it.


Step 3:  Start taking steps to distance yourself and your marketing from “generic differentiators”.  Dig in and understand what TRULY makes you different in your industry.  Let your quirks, obsessions, passions and reasons for doing what you do drive the message in your taglines, website headlines, elevator pitch, and LinkedIn profile.


Brought to you by Cristi Cooke, creator of the Pillars of Genius™ Method.


  1. great page, Cristi! Looking forward to the audio!

  2. Yay! Thank you Karen! I’m so glad you downloaded the free audio & little worksheet to “Work Your Quirks™” LOL – let us know when you’ve had a chance to listen, and whether you flipped any of your quirks into genius!

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