So, you think you’re better do you? Prove it!

So, you think you’re better do you? Prove it!

By : Dalia E Paratore Harrison and Christopher Harrison

How many times do you catch yourself saying “we’re better than our competition” in your client conversations? Are your products or services truly better? How so?  And how do you communicate these differentiators to your clients?  There are six major ways to compare how what you are selling stacks up to your competition: Product, Service, Channel, Relationship, Reputation/Branding and Price.  True pros know that more than one differentiator should be employed but the ones chosen should greatly depend upon what your offering is and whom your clients are. 

Product Differentiation: These are physical and perceived differences that include, but are not limited to: features, performance, durability, reliability and warranty. Marketing and advertising dollars are usually channeled here as this allows a company to tell a compelling story about their product or service. Because most industries have product saturation it has become necessary for companies to tout the superiority of their goods based on at least one of the examples listed above.  Does your product have third party certifications based on testing, is it lighter, more rugged, include a longer or more exhaustive warranty?  It’s key to find out what your key consumers, in your various market segments, are drawn to.

Price Differentiation: Pricing strategies should be different for different markets. For instance, the state and local law enforcement market is more regional and the US Government market is more global and contract vehicle driven.  Price strategy to international markets usually also allows each local subsidiary or partner (such as an agent or distributor) to set a price more in accordance with the needs of that specific segment. Pricing differentiation is also affected by A. quantity/volume and contract length and B. Having resellers who are active in “selling” your products, they should be incentivized to make those sales and the reward is the additional discount offered inside the Dealer of Record (DOR) program.

Channel Differentiation: Channel differentiation looks at various ways a company distributes, sells or offers its products to its customers. This involves A. coverage or how customers can acquire your products, B. Contracting vehicles, as in what are the means Government customers can execute the acquisition of your products and C. Expertise in the training resellers and representatives as well as the performance of your downstream or channel partners.

Service Differentiation: Differentiation of service includes not only delivery and customer service, but all other supporting elements of a business such as training, installation, and ease of ordering (ecommerce, app, self-service, personal service). Service differentiation is the design and delivery of a service to have unique and valuable characteristics relative to other services in the market.

Relationship Differentiation: This is a subset of Service Differentiation but is one worth delving into further. The interfacing of employees, associates, or team members with your clients is where the bond between vendor and customer is built. If the sales representative, CSR or technical service rep demonstrates competence, courtesy, credibility, reliability, and responsiveness this will build the trust and loyalty that reduces sales/account churn.

Reputation/Branding Differentiation: It takes time to build a reputation and that is why this differentiator is listed last. If you’re a smaller company, are in a new market or have not been in the market long, it can take considerable dollars to build your image.  That’s why a customer-driven focus, that will drive your brand, is a better tactic. Select a small amount of customers, anywhere from three to four, and then focus your budget primarily on these companies. Give them exactly what they want and dazzle them. You will increase your share of their business, and they in turn will become the brand/product evangelists of your business.  

Your brand should elicit a positive and enthusiastic emotional response. However, this comes from using the science of differentiators and human psychology strategically. So develop your mix!  This is ever evolving, fluid and dynamic.  Your products and services will change.  Your clients/audience will change.  Your markets will change.  And if you know this, you’ll be ready to always keep your brand relevant and stacking up favorably against your competition.


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