This post strays a little from the norm here, I know, but indulge me. :)
I recently wrote a column for Small Business Advantage Magazine here in Jacksonville, Florida about making your product stand out from the competition. It’s got some great tips for small business owners (like me), and I wanted to post it here, along with the link. Hope it helps!
Distinguishing what you offer starts with an in-depth market analysis
By Jennifer Marko
Ideas. They are what motivate most entrepreneurs to act on creating a product or service that improves what is currently available.
Many ideas, however, are similar, so what can you do to differentiate your product or service from the competition? To differentiate yourself from your competitors, find the unique experience your product or service offers. Do an honest analysis by answering these questions.
• Who is your target audience? What are their characteristics—male, female, young, old, special interests? Where do they “hang out”? How do they spend their money? How much discretionary money do they have? Are they local, regional, or national?
• Who are your competitors? Make a comprehensive list of them and the products and services they offer. List all of the good points as well as their shortcomings.
• What makes your product better than the competition’s? Quality, design, features, price, and availability are all ways to differentiate your product or service. Which aspects are the most important to your target market, and how do you deliver them better than your competitors?
Discover these hot-button issues by conducting focus groups, observing online chats about your industry, or doing an online research about your competitors.
• How can your product or service solve customer frustrations? Customers get frustrated over shoddy workmanship, exorbitant fees, and extra charges. Analyze the complains you hear about products and services that are similar to yours—then figure out how to make an offer customers can’t refuse.
For instance: If you are a plumber, can you guarantee the quality of your work? If you are a computer technician, are you willing to waive a travel fee for onsite repairs? Can you turn your dental office into a spa-like retreat? As a tax professional will you make house calls?
Remember that customers want to buy the experience you can give them through your product or service. Find that unique experience and sell it at every opportunity.
Within a crowded marketplace, differentiating your product from the competition is vital to gaining market share, converting customers, and generating name recognition. The most valuable attributes to communicate are those which are most important to your customers. Once you know who your targeted audience is and what it is are looking for, you are well on your way to success.
Jennifer Marko is president of Bottle Snugglers (www.bottlesnugglers.com), a baby product company based in Jacksonville. Prior to opening this business, she spent a decade in the public relations field helping clients in multiple industries to stand out from their competitors. She can be reached at 800-385-7684 or firstname.lastname@example.org.