Providing superior value to your customers.
We understand that differentiation is the ‘golden goose’ in the Channel. It allows our clients to provide superior value to their customers promoting a win-win scenario that can boost profitability and the ongoing viability of their business. In our experience there are six ways to differentiate your business, including product positioning, service coherence, price point, channels of distribution and reputation.
Product differentiation is probably the most visible as it includes actual physical and perceived differences. It can take the form of features, performance and efficacy. Articulating these characteristics is a pursuit that most B2B marketers, and probably most consumer marketers, spend the majority of their time racking their brains over. The problem though, is that product differentiation is short-lived and incredibly easy for your competitors to duplicate.
Service differentiation doesn’t just encompass customer service and delivery. It is supported by elements in a business such as tools, training, installation, and fluidity of ordering. Tackling these fundamental elements may seem intimidating, though these simple components of a business don’t always require sophistication, as they live on thorough consistency and commitment.
Channels of distribution are a really effective way to differentiate, as it is time-consuming and would prove extremely expensive for a competitor to pre-empt or duplicate. We focus on providing coverage, access to expertise, the path to purchase, and optimised levels of customer and/or technical service.
Internal preparation is key; we address training, joint sales calls, supporting literature, lead sharing and more to ensure a Provider can become a staunch ally and Partner. Even in a non-exclusive relationship, a committed Provider can create advantage through joint promotions, bundling, warranty and service support, and technical service.
An often-overlooked means of differentiation is through company personnel. Employees, associates, or team members with customer contact can provide and demonstrate competence, courtesy, credibility, reliability and responsiveness. Responsible for executing day-to-day client-facing communication, they are the bridge between the product and customer. It is these team members that deliver on-time while resolving any issues quickly and accurately. Performance like this creates emotional bonds between the business and customer. Building this relationship takes time and training but establishes a highly differentiated position.
Some businesses set themselves apart by their image, either as part of another differentiation avenue or as a separate strategic path. Typically, image is created by other forms of differentiation such as high levels of service, superior product quality or performance.
Image is controlled and managed by symbols used in communications, advertising, and all types of media — written, digital, and audio, as well as the atmosphere of the physical location where customers encounter the business.
If you want to remain a ‘Thought Leader’ in your industry, you’ve got to regularly provide relevant content to a niche audience. When you consistently deliver value to the right people, they will share your content, evangelise your products and services, and in many cases become your best customers.
Successfully competing on price requires recognising that every customer has a different price they would be willing to pay for your product. Segmentation and differentiation allow a business to come close to maximising the potential revenue by offering each segment a differentiated product at a different price.
Admittedly, the value of goods is subjective and varies by customer, use occasion and operating environment. In the B2B world, most prices are subject to some kind of negotiation, and some customers are prepared to pay more than the prevailing market price when complementary services are also offered.
Not all strategies are equally effective though. Some routes may be more important to invest in than others to give you the competitive edge.