Owning your own business can be both exciting and exhausting.
You want to present to the market a set of products which will excite prospective customers.
But generating this excitement in a busy and crowded sector can be a challenge.
What you need is a marketing plan that answers one very important question.
How does your product differ from those of your competitors?
There are very few products on this earth which are totally unique.
After several thousand years of civilisation, new products just provide a different way to solve an old problem.
Some of them also solve problems created by old solutions.
Building a Better Mousetrap
You product marketing needs to inform your prospects of two things:
- The problem your product solves, and how it does so.
- Why your product is a better solution than any other.
The ability to understand and answer those to questions is key to the success of any business owner.
Consider the latest Dyson vacuum cleaner.
The basic problem it solves is to clean a floor.
For centuries people had used a broom to sweep the floor.
Around the 1800s, when carpets became common, carpet sweepers replaced brooms.
Carpet sweepers offered a quicker and cleaner way to pick up and store floor dust.
After a while people realised that carpet sweepers were still hard work, and not very efficient.
So along came the electric vacuum cleaner.
The problem the vacuum cleaner solved was to reduce effort and leave a cleaner carpet.
So, to sell one of his new vacuum cleaners, James Dyson needed to convince buyers how it would be better than any other method of cleaning a floor.
Better than any other brand of vacuum cleaner.
So, James Dyson researched the competition and found a new problem to solve.
Until he came along all other vacuum cleaners used a bag to store the dust and detritus the cleaner picked up.
Dyson saw the problem those bags created.
The bags reduced the effective suction produced by the electric motor.
He proved his bagless vacuum cleaners have superior sucking power to other vacuum cleaners.
Bagless cleaners are more efficient.
They use less electricity and get the carpet cleaner.
Dyson convinced a lot of people.
Not only did Dyson sell a lot of vacuum cleaners, he was able to charge a premium price for his “better” product.
Research Your Competition
By understanding your competition, you will see their strengths, and identify their weaknesses.
Your product must solve two problems.
- The basic problem which both your product solves.
- How your product solves the problem with your competitor’s product.
Do the in-depth research, find the problem(s) with competitor products, then sell against it.
But don’t stop your differentiation at the product level.
Find out how you can set yourself apart from your competitors’ with your entire company.
Maybe your competitor is very slow at delivery, or charges a lot for shipping?
Make a feature of how you ship the same day and for free!
Does your competitor have a reputation for poor customer service?
Put extra care into your customer relations and after-sales service.
Then collect customer testimonials which talk about your superior customer care.
It is very important that you can prove your claims.
If you claim amazing customer service, then make sure you deliver.
Here are a few ways you can use to research your market and competitors.
- Get hands-on experience with competitor products.
- Conduct surveys and market research studies on customer service.
- Think about your own expectations when you buy a product or service.
- Learn about the experience of well-known CEO’s and entrepreneurs in similar markets.
Listen to Your Market
To understand what customers truly want out of their purchase, all you have to do is listen.
Customers like to be listened to.
That in itself can create loyal buyers who feel a personal connection to your company.
Make personal contact with potential customers to understand their views of the problem.
Tell them you are conducting market research.
Also ask them about their experience of other potential solutions.
Then reward them for their time by extending an invite to be on the inside “team”.
The “team” get sneak previews, special offers, and the first-chance-to buy when you bring your product to market.
You might be surprised at how little personal contact your competitors are making with their market.
Your relationship with your customers can be a significant competitive advantage.
Next time, we’ll take a look at high paying clients and how you should interact to keep them coming back.