Seeking Marketing Advice
I have a business colleague (I’ll call him Sam) who works for the marketing department of a manufacturing firm. Recently he shared with me his concerns over how his company was marketing its products. The competition Sam’s employer is up against has grown three-fold within the last year. Thus making the value pitch has been getting harder and harder to push through.
After hearing Sam out for a few minutes, I told him, “It looks like your company needs to re-think its marketing strategy”.
His answer: “Exactly!”
Imperatives for Marketing Strategy
Sam said he didn’t want to waste my time discussing semantic marketing analysis methodology – SWOT analyses and the like, Rather, he wanted some practical, common-sense advice.
I told him to start his new plan with at least two things in mind:
* Transparent Value
* Non-Replicable Design
What better product is there whose value is readily seen? Just as it is with those many software products boasting “feature-rich” this and “robust” that – there is little to no value in a product whose benefits aren’t readily apparent.
My advice − Manufacture (or at least package) a product with a relevant name, appealing graphics and user instructions that render imminently clear value. That’s it.
On the second point…
If ABC company makes a one-piece gizmo with no inherently exclusive design attributes, then what’s to stop the competitor from beginning production of the same product a few weeks later?
On the one hand, there are customers who do pay attention to detail, and are able to point out quality features that make Company A’s product stand out from the rest. They’ll buy your product. On the other hand, quality means nothing to the many other buyers who hand over their cash to buy a cheaper product that they feel is essentially the same.
My advice − Design a product whose unique features and benefits are extremely difficult to replicate. For example, some companies design their products based on standards or attributes established in-company. These standards only enable product use in conjunction with another product in your line. Or they may expire after a designated time. Or they have other attributes that limit its manufacture to just one producer – your company.
An Example in Non-Replicability
For example, many laptop computers come with a specially-sized replaceable battery. While bootleg battery manufacturers might easily be able to replicate the battery’s external and internal features, they might not be able to replicate the battery’s “digital signature” or the other subtle technologies that restrict the laptop circuitry itself from connecting to, discharging from, or recharging the battery.
This technology renders the counterfeit battery useless, and thus helps protect the market share of legitimate replacement battery manufacturers.
Leverage Other Tools to Support Non-Replicability
Supplement your product’s non-replicability with all other available forms of protection. These could include claims to copyright (for intellectual property) and patents on specific design features (for tangible goods).