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Marketing / Business marketing

Product differentiation: How to stand out from the pack

Today’s market is very cluttered, making it more important than ever that your message attracts customers to your product or service. So what does it take to stand out? How can you make the most of product differentiation?

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What do you offer that your competition doesn’t? What are the benefits of your product or service that sets you apart from the rest? Whatever your points of difference are, you need to identify and promote them, you need to identify and promote them. Here are some easy ideas to get you started with product differentiation.

Promote your benefits

When promoting your service or product, do you simply list features, without clearly telling customers how they’ll benefit?

Instead of “We offer quality accounting services for large and small businesses” try “We help businesses reduce their tax expense, increase their profits and operate more efficiently”. Now you’ve got their attention. Who doesn’t want to reduce their tax?

You must let customers know “What’s in it for them.” Don’t be sheepish – tell them point blank.

Many organisations only promote features. By adding benefits to the mix, you’ll be helping your target market to differentiate you from the competition.

"Words and phrases such as ‘professional’, ‘quality’ and ‘saves time’ can be applied to almost any product or service, and therefore are not differentiating terms."

If you’re not clear about the differences between features and benefits, this article by Sara Howard sums things up nicely.

Don’t be generic

Avoid using generic terms that can be applied to all businesses. Words and phrases such as ‘professional’, ‘quality’ and ‘saves time’ can be applied to almost any product or service, and therefore are not differentiating terms.

Do be unique

What features of your product are unique? Identify and promote them.

Is your product the same colour as a cheaper, more inferior product? If so, change it.

Is the packaging similar to others? Update it.

Be creative with your packaging (think re-usable or recyclable for starters), and innovative with design.

Want more articles like this? Check out the business marketing section.

Use statistics

Use concrete numbers in your messages, like “We’ve helped over 1,000 businesses generate new sales”, or “Ten out of 12 accountants use our product”. These meaningful statements add weight to your offering, grab the reader’s attention, and differentiate you from the competition.

Keep your website up to date

Chances are that if you haven’t looked at your website in some time, your customers haven’t either. Ensure the information on it is updated regularly.

Think about the questions your customers ask you most often. Are these addressed in your website?

Ask someone who’s unfamiliar with your business to read your site. What doesn’t make sense to them? Fix it.

Your website doesn’t need to be text heavy. It should summarise your product offering and entice customers to contact you – at which point you can give them the full story. Don’t forget to include the benefits of your products and services.

Hire a professional copywriter or marketing consultant to give your website text a professional, polished edge.

Know your customers

Ask your customers why they purchase from you, and pay attention to their answers.

Customer opinion about how your product or service stacks up against the competition can highlight new differentiations that you may not have considered promoting.

Customer feedback will also help you craft statements that will attract other like-minded customers.

Similarly, if you target a specific group of customers, make sure you identify and speak directly to them in your promotions.

Conduct an internal review

What do you offer that others in your industry don’t? How is your business better than your competition? Years of experience? What else sets you apart?

Combine all these suggestions and findings into one list and your points of difference should be crystal clear. Ensure you include them in your sales message and that your website is updated to include them. To really stand out from the pack, feature your points of difference in all communications and promotions.

How do you make the most of product differentiation in your industry? Tell us below, and don’t forget to be different!

Dean Parker

combines 15 years of marketing experience with a Masters of Marketing degree to help small/medium business owners maximise their profit.

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