Ryan Kohler

Topic: Understanding Differentiation and Hiring: Aligning your Hiring and Business Differentiation Strategies to Work Together

As you walk through the dairy aisles of the grocery store, there’s a distinct difference between milk and ice cream. Milk is a commodity. There’s next to no difference between the products, and most people buy based on price or proximity. This makes it difficult for companies to remain sustainable and profitable in the long term (just ask a local family dairy farmer). But if you add eggs, sugar, and maybe some candy or fruit, and toss it in the freezer, it miraculously becomes ice cream.  And besides putting a smile on every kid's face, ice cream is NOT a commodity! As you walk down the aisle you’re flooded with options; hundreds of flavors; stick, cone, or bulk; low cost to ultra premium.  Ice cream brands don’t just look to stand out by their ingredients, even their names, packaging, and marketing vary.  We have a fancy German name, or flavors with cute puns, celebrity endorsements, and the list goes on and on. All of this differentiation creates brand preference in the minds of the consumers, and with preference comes business sustainability and profits.

Whether you know it or not, your business is most likely part of a crowded marketplace, and so in order to survive and thrive, differentiation will be essential. Business differentiation can take many shapes, from product to service level and much more.  But successful differentiation isn’t just about having a good idea, it requires having the right people to implement it who are strategically aligned with that differentiation.  Simply put, your employees need to be different as well.  You’ll need to hire people who fit your strategy, motivate them to maintain it, and keep the best ones on board so that your identity doesn’t walk out the door with them. In this session, Ryan will walk through the basics of business differentiation, provide clear examples of successful brands, and show how hiring plays a vital role.  Finally, he will dig into how your company’s differentiation strategy might just be the ticket to helping you find and retain great talent.


Ryan is the Founder and CEO of ApplicantPro, a hiring software company founded in 2006. Ryan and his team have grown the small startup into a leading provider of hiring software for over 4,000 companies around the nation. Ryan's mission is to help companies, managers, and HR teams improve their hiring results. To do this, he and his team strive to create educational content, tools, integrations, and software to help businesses drive their hiring results. Because he is an entrepreneur and owns a business that involves working with thousands of HR folks, he understands what it takes to bridge the gap between an organization’s vision and the goals of HR. Ryan enjoys working one-on-one with these professionals, empowering them to become more technical, teaching them to think more like a Marketer and how to apply these skills towards hiring. Ryan is an HRCI and SHRM-CP Approved Provider and is devoted to sharing his knowledge and experience to help make your hiring process more strategic and accurate. He currently conducts weekly, free webinars that provide HRCI & SHRM Continuing Education credit and presents at SHRM events around the country.