Creative thinking that delivers results

24 May

The forgotten art of differentiation

Category: Marketing strategy
differentiation, marketing, marketing strategy

In our continuing series on the value and importance of a marketing strategy for your business, today we’re going to touch on something that sometimes gets lost in the digital world of social media, SEO, marketing analytics and Google AdWords – differentiation.

Think strategically

When we say that differentiation gets ‘lost’ with some marketers today, we’re not implying that they don’t know what it’s all about or how to achieve it. Instead, we’re suggesting that today more than ever marketers are so wrapped in channel execution and dealing with price-sensitive customers that they sometimes neglect some of the fundamental components of an effective marketing campaign.

Differentiating your products and services from your competitors is so important for no other reason than it helps to enable you to “stand out from the crowd”. And in today’s highly competitive and highly congested marketplace where your customers are being inundated with a multitude of marketing messages and information, could this concept ever be more important?

Executing a differentiated marketing strategy

So how can businesses and marketers make best use of product and service differentiation in their company? It really all starts with a thorough, careful and honest assessment of your competitive landscape. What are your chief competitors doing in the space, how do their products and services compare with yours AND most importantly how can you distinguish and differentiate your products from them?

To achieve all this, you need to honestly assess your offering and determine what makes it special relative to your competitors. What features do you possess that others don’t that would resonate with your target audience? Is there something unique about it that matters to customers?

While this exercise is relatively easy for innovative, leading-edge companies like Apple that are constantly developing new and improved products like the Apple Watch, this task can be much more challenging for businesses that are in more mature industries characterized by commodity like products and services.

So what can you do?

This is where other parts of your marketing strategy come into play, in particular your branding. A well thought out brand can convey some intangible and intrinsic values to your customers that go far beyond actual product efficacy. Oftentimes this brand equity can be more powerful and influential than what the latest and greatest tech innovations could ever hope to deliver.

Using Apple as an example once again, there are many iPhone users that are staunch advocates for the product and the brand in spite of the innovative, leading-edge features being developed by competitors such as Samsung’s Galaxy phones. These consumers have a deep emotional connection to the brand, and it’s this connection that provides the true differentiator for Apple over its competitors in this space.

The point being is that differentiation isn’t always based on something tangible but instead can be based on an emotional connection, a trust that’s built up in the minds of the consumer between themselves and their brand. Which is why brand building and creating equity in one’s brand is such a big deal to marketers; it can enable you to differentiate yourself on the basis of something other than a tangible factor.

The differentiated mindset

So the next time you set out to develop your next marketing campaign, ask yourself and your team whether you’ve done an effective enough job of analyzing and evaluating the key components of your product or service. Have you been able to identify and define those factors that differentiate you from your competitors? Or is the value proposition you’re presenting to prospects wishy-washy and thus lacking in clarity?

If it’s the latter, take the time and money necessary to evaluate your products and services through a proper competitive analysis. Then use the results to develop a campaign that enables you to ‘stand out from the crowd’. Your bosses and stakeholders will be more than pleased you invested in this given it will be directly reflected in your bottom line!

If you need any help defining your points of differentiation for your brand or the products and services that fall under it or need help with devising your overall marketing strategy, we can help. Contact us to learn how we can help you being to think more strategically about your business.