One of the reasons that marketing and advertising have changed so radically over the last decade is that there is a proliferation of sameness. There was a time when you would go to the shops for your groceries and buy the one brand of whichever product is was you were looking for. At the most two or three choices were available. Now there are literally hundreds of different products or services that offer the same thing. So how do you make yourself stand out from the crowd?
Sell benefits, not products
Marketing and advertising have had to change because companies are no longer selling products and services. Because of the sameness, companies now have to sell benefits: why is our product better than the competition? What can we do for our clients that the rest of the suppliers in our industry don’t, or can’t, do? What really sets us apart?
Answering these questions forms a fundamental part of the strategy that organisations have to employ when offering themselves to the market place. Knowing how to leverage those benefits can mean the difference between being on the back of the bottom shelf, or prominently displayed at eye-level.
Content marketing has become the way in which businesses have managed to sell their benefits. By educating people about the product or service you offer, you can give them a unique insight into the company they are buying from and the real people behind it.
Know what motivates your buyers
Positioning your product or service correctly in the market is vital to its success. If you get this wrong, your business will fail. Constant repositioning has the effect of creating mistrust in consumers, so you need to get it right the first time. Consumer products fall into three main categories, which are divided up according to needs analysis.
There are three different types of convenience product:
These products are easy to find – usually at your nearest supermarket – don’t cost very much money in relation to their worth, and are usually self-service, in that you don’t need a knowledgeable sales clerk to tell you which one to choose. Toothpaste, chocolate bars or plasters would fall into this category.
One of the challenges of selling this type of convenience product is that consumers often have a great deal of brand loyalty, and will stick to that preferred brand even in the face of discounted products made by other brands. This is where selling benefits can make the difference and swing a buyer’s opinion. Why should they change from something they know they like and buy your product instead?
You know those days when you fancy a bit of retail therapy? Well, these are the products you’ll come home with. You may need to go to specific types of retail outlets to find the things you’re after, and your purse will be a little more worse for wear than after a trip to the grocery store. Designer clothes and cell phones fit into this category. You might need to speak to a sales clerk to help you choose the right product.
There are all sorts of reasons why consumers have preferred retail outlets that they habitually buy from, including status, price and even body shape, if they are buying clothes. So tapping into the psychology of buying can really help you to leverage the benefits of your products, based on the thought process behind the shopping.
These are products for which price matters much less to the buyer than having the product. Customers are inclined to search far and wide for this type of product, until they find exactly what they are looking for. Collectible items and made-to-order products fall into this category.
Selling to this type of consumer requires niche marketing strategies that appeal to a certain taste or desire. In this type of market, where you are competing for a very specific customer, providing as much information about the benefits of your product over a competitor’s is vital. Your target market is much smaller than for the other types of products, and therefore making sure that you attract enough customers is fundamental to your success. Also, it is the details this type of consumer is interested in.
Know your market
More than just knowing who your buyers are and what they are looking for, you must also know the market you have positioned yourself in. Find out what the competition is like, what benefits they are selling, and if there are any opportunities you can leverage or any threats to your own products you need to overcome.
Through this kind of market analysis you can also determine the strengths you have within your organisation, as well as any weaknesses that need to be attended to, in order to get the best out of your business.
Use content marketing and social networking to show your USP
When you know which category your product or service falls into, it is much simpler to create an effective marketing strategy, and to distinguish what sets you apart from other suppliers in your industry. This is called your unique selling point or USP.
Having a USP is of huge benefit in this age of information and entertainment, as it provides you with a platform from which to launch your content marketing and social networking campaigns. More people are looking for information than ever before, and if differentiating your product from another comes down to how well you disseminate information about it, then your content is, as Google proclaims, king.
DIY or professional content?
There is a great deal of information available on how to make your content stand out from your competitors’. We write about it here almost daily, along with a few other hundred thousand content consultants on the World Wide Web. So you can rise to the challenge of blogging about the benefits your organisation has to offer, as well as interacting on the social networks within your circle of influence. And I encourage you to do so. There is far more content marketing needed than there are good writers to fill the pages. Not to mention the fact that your passion for and belief in your product has the same effect as my passion for and belief in the things I write about: it gives you authenticity.
However, there is a place for turning to the professionals. Getting the edge on your competition takes time and effort. A content marketing strategy has to be rolled out over months, in order to reap the rewards that you are after. And it is not a choice any more: anyone who does not pursue this avenue of marketing will get left behind sooner rather than later.
Want a real-life example?
Months of daily blogging and social interaction takes time and knowledge of online marketing tools, as well as authenticity and product knowledge, and that is our USP. At aXent, we are so passionate about life-long learning, that we make it our business to gain the knowledge we need to leverage the tools that make you stand out, and to know you and what drives your business.
In this vein, we have two specialities to offer based on our orientation towards learning as well as our passion for writing and design: we can create and implement a marketing strategy on your behalf, or we can train you to do it yourself, and coach you through the early stages. Both options have benefits that we use to help us stand out from the crowded virtual marketplace of online marketers.
Carry out your market research carefully and then create a strategic marketing campaign that will position your product exactly where it needs to be. Write rich, useful and engaging content that allows your customers to see the benefits of the product or service, as well as those of the people who make up company behind it. Sell those benefits, not the product itself, and allow your passion and belief in what you do set you apart from your competitors.
Have you worked out your unique selling point? How do you leverage it to get your product or service more attention than the others just like it on the market?