Are you falling into the commodity price trap?

These days, it’s not uncommon to hear that companies feel that their products or services are losing their competitive edge thanks to the data-rich world we live in. With information readily available at our fingertips, for customers, it’s just way too easy for them to hop online and begin comparing service or product features before they’ve even had a conversation with you. By the time they’ve picked up the phone, dropped by, or filled out a contact form, they’ve already done their homework and have become ‘educated’ on what they think they’re looking for, making our jobs in sales that much more difficult. It’s something that keeps even the most innovative CEO up at night.

 

Of course, we know that what you’re offering is different than your competitors, but your customer might not think so. And herein lies the problem. So how do you build that perceived value-add proposition and set yourself apart from the competition?

 

Could your marketing be at fault?
Here’s the thing. The commodity approach to marketing is that you are marketing and selling your services and products by providing a list of facts and features, fully educating a potential customer before they’ve had a conversation with you.

 

For example, on your website, you may outline all of the things that your customer is getting for X price. You tout the great features and detail all the specs of a specific product or service. This is a great approach if your customer’s primary decision is based on price because this allows them to do a quick glance of both yours and your competitor’s features and weigh price as the performance tradeoff. And if you’re like the rest of us, your prices are not the cheapest or the most expensive. You’re smack dab in the middle.

 

We’ve done enough branding and marketing audits to know that one of the most common practices for a company is to position themselves solely based on their products or services, heavily relying on key facts and features. This means that their current marketing strategy is built on what they are selling to their prospects… but not necessarily what they are offering. And that’s the key.

 

Customers today, being the well-educated persons that they are, need more than just the features. They need to know the benefits. And no, I’m not talking about an expanded list of features. I mean benefits. What’s in it for them? How can the decision to do business with your company make them feel empowered? How will they be better after working with you?

 

The Value Proposition
This is where your marketing comes into play and can help articulate your company’s value proposition for your particular product or service. A value proposition is a statement that describes the clear benefit that you offer, and how you uniquely solve your customer’s needs. A value proposition is what distinguishes you from your competitors. Once you’ve determined what this value proposition is, it’s going to be time to create a marketing strategy that leverages that statement. As a part of that strategy, you will also need to create some tools and resources that will educate your prospect along the way that clearly highlights not just your products and services, but the benefits they bring. This can be done by white papers, case studies, blogs, customer testimonials… to name just a few.

 

This is where your marketing comes into play and can help articulate your company’s value proposition for your particular product or service. A value proposition is a statement that describes the clear benefit that you offer, and how you uniquely solve your customer’s needs. A value proposition is what distinguishes you from your competitors. Once you’ve determined what this value proposition is, it’s going to be time to create a marketing strategy that leverages that statement. As a part of that strategy, you will also need to create some tools and resources that will educate your prospect along the way that clearly highlights not just your products and services, but the benefits they bring. This can be done by white papers, case studies, blogs, customer testimonials… to name just a few.

 

If you need a tip on how to get started with your company’s value proposition, here’s an example to get you started:

 

Meet (company name). We’re a new way of (approach/problem it fixes/what your product does) for (who is product/service intended for). We do this by (benefit). It’s better than (competitor/current way/status quo) because (how it’s different). We know you’ll enjoy it because (why anyone needs your product/service/value it brings).

 

By leading with the value proposition marketing approach, you’re marketing your company first, and your products and services second. This tells the consumer that as a company, you’re just as valuable, if not more, than what you’re selling. This eliminates the pricing war between you and your competitors because you’re selling something that they can’t… you.

 

How do we know if our value proposition is working?

 

The challenge that companies usually face when trying to determine the effectiveness of their new marketing is the time delay between your marketing and the actual purchase, which could potentially be weeks, months, or longer depending on your sales cycle. This means that it could be challenging to link your value proposition marketing strategy to the actual purchase unless you can track who looked at the marketing piece and then subsequently purchased. But there are certainly ways that you can measure your marketing efforts to know if what you’re doing is working. Read my past post on 7 ways to tell if your marketing is working.

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