Standing in the middle the Toronto Convention Centre with thousands of high school students rushing around a young man stopped and asked me a simple question ‘What’s the difference between Arts at your school and theirs?’. I laughed, nervously, because I knew that no matter what I answered he’d be analyzing it for so much more. Every year each Ontario University spends months planning and preparing for the Ontario Universities Fair. Every Faculty and Staff member is briefed about the University they represent and they prepare for questions about the programs they teach and their institution. But this question caught me off guard. I took a deep breath.
For this young man, the question meant so much more than course load and area of study. Almost every university offers a Bachelor of Arts, what he wanted to know was what makes us different, and I could tell that I didn’t have much time to wow him. During that brief deep breath I knew I only had a matter of seconds to prepare a response; did I talk about the program or ‘us’. Simple, I went with talking about our school, what makes us special, the way we’ve branded ourselves.
Four or five questions later we had barely spoke about the program, though I’d mentioned I had graduated from it and loved my job, as far as it was from my field of study. By the time he left he’d completed an information request form, picked up an information booklet and even mentioned that he was now planning on visiting on campus during our open house the next month.
In today’s digital world where so many businesses offer similar products it’s important to be able to distinguish yourself. If your service is similar to many others finding a away to distinguish your brand and relate to your audience is essential.