Avoiding Self-Commoditization in Your Business (Marketing Tango)

Not every businessperson can imagine or invent entirely new categories of products where none existed before. And even if something completely novel is introduced (and patented and trademarked), it doesn’t take long before others find ways to copy it.

Nevertheless, every company should strive to set itself apart from competitors and create its own “Unique Selling Proposition” (USP). Yet according to Forbes, “self-commoditization can significantly threaten just about any company’s success and profitability, whether you produce consumer products or complex business-to-business services and solutions. Ineffective sales processes and behaviors are probably the biggest cause.”

Is your business in danger of self-commoditization? It may be that you’re in a category that’s offered by many, like food items and restaurants, legal, real estate, marketing (!), financial services, or personal care, such as fitness and hair.

You can’t compete on price alone since it’s a race to the bottom, so setting your business apart in a meaningful way is critical.

MarketingProfs recently listed a variety of strategies that integrated marketers in nearly any category can follow to create their own USP and avoid being viewed as a commodity. Here’s a summary of the top strategies to set yourself apart:

  • Offer Leadership — Such a position implies customer satisfaction and can provide economies of scale that make it difficult for others to match.
  • Third-Party Validation — Get objective parties and influencers to say nice things about you in a variety of settings, such as industry publications, awards, social media, and trade shows.
  • Offer Solutions — Avoid a ‘product-manager’ mindset that focuses on features first at the expense of benefits; remember to always consider the customer’s point of view and what problems they face.
  • Offer Expertise — Become the authority in your category and offer your professional advice at no charge to new prospects. It may not lead to immediate sales, but it will develop good will and build word of mouth referrals.
  • Offer Excellence — Deliver outstanding customer service and you will stand out! This applies to rapid delivery as well.
  • Offer Aftermarket Services – Develop a relationship so you can offer upgrades or additional purchases later on.
  • Offer One-Stop Shopping — When you can provide everything from a single source, you effectively lock out the competition.
  • Offer Anytime Availability — People are willing to pay a premium for convenience and reliability. Be sure you can deliver on this promise!
  • Offer Competitive Pricing — Regardless of how unique your business is, you’ll still have competition. Therefore, make it a practice to keep tabs on your competitors’ prices to make sure yours are within the appropriate range. Don’t assume that customers are always content with the status quo.

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