It's Not What You Make, It's What You Stand For.
Believe it or not, as web developers we face a very similar problem to winery owners. There's 3000+ commercial wineries in United States. I have no idea how many web firms there are, but I can tell you it's way more than 3000.
So we find ourselves asking the same questions that wineries ask... how do we differentiate our product and services and how do we stand out.
Pretty much every wine maker will tell you they are "passionate" and they make "quality" wine. Same thing in the web development world. They tell you how they have quality code, it's XHTML and CSS compliant and follow best practices, etc.
I read the post on Stormhoek.com two weeks ago "It's Not What You Make, It's What You Stand For". To a degree I agree, but to a degree I really disagree (that's a confusing sentence). The products you make, and everything you do needs to stand behind what you stand for.
At Vin | 65 we build winery ecommerce websites. From a wineries perspective we have a very similar product offering to Interia Beverage, eWinerySolutions, Nexternal, Wine Web, Cultivate, and many others. (From my perspective, as a developer I will tell you we are very different just like a wine maker will say his wines are very different from everyone else). So in a customer's eyes how do we stand apart?
This is a question that we've been continually developing over the last while. In January 2009 a new version of our platform launches and we really hope to make a clearer statement on what we stand for. (Until then, read our Mission and Philosophy and what we stand for here). I really hope what we stand for shows in what we make.
What I discovered is that, looking at my company through the eyes of a customer, the value proposition was all wrong. In fact, looking around at other agency websites exposed the same problem: many businesses are focused on talking to themselves, not to customers, e.g. what people really want, how they speak or what's most important to them. Hence, the disconnect.
In the end, I feel very confident about how the new website has come together (I also outsourced the design, which helped immensely) and the more customer-friendly, simple and focused message it communicates.
An excellent resource for this type of exercise is the free book titled Your Business Brickyard.