This article belongs to Running Your Own Business column.

Last time we talked about picking your market segments. Finding the market segment you want to approach is not difficult but deciding how to approach it can be a daunting task.

How many times have you seen a grocery store advertise "Fresh Produce". To the average customer, this is almost meaningless. On seeing this "benefit" advertised, the obvious question that comes to mind is, "If you don't have fresh produce, why open your doors? "

This brings us to the "How to reach your market" question. Through the years, the magical factor that brings customers flocking to you has been called many things; unique selling proposition (USP), competitive advantage, competitive edge and now, Value Proposition.

It is commonly defined as:
A business or marketing statement that summarizes why a consumer should buy a product or use a service. This statement should convince a potential consumer that one particular product or service will add more value or better solve a problem than other similar offerings. (Source Investopedia.com)

If you look up "differentiation" you'll find virtually the same definition, unless you're a math student. No matter what terminology you use, it all boils down to the same thing. "What makes you special?" In other words, "Why should a customer use your product or service as opposed to any of your competitors'?"

Yogi Berra probably would have said, "Everybody has to be unique." The good news is, not everybody approaches the market this way. You'll find that many of your competitors are so busy pointing out the features and benefits of their products and services that they omit the "what makes us different?" step.

Here are a couple of suggestions:

Value added this is often very powerful but carries a couple of dangers with it. First of all, you have to be sure that the value you are adding is value in the Customer's terms. Also, make sure you don't, by your choice of advertising content, give the impression that your product or service needs something extra to make it valuable.

Extra Warranties give a guarantee that is above the industry standard. If you're selling a service, perhaps you could provide an "after action" report or offer some sort of outcomes measurement.

Extra Service the time worn phrase, "we go the extra mile for our customers," is almost a throwaway. The reason? Everybody says it, most people don't do it. It's a sad truth that unsatisfied customers are usually more vocal than satisfied customers. In the sage words of Ken Blanchard, "Just having satisfied customers isn't good enough anymore. If you really want a booming business, you have to create Raving Fans."

You have to make the customer experience so enjoyable and trouble free that he/she will sing your praises to everyone.

Thanks for reading. Next time we'll talk about advertising.