Today’s competitive pressures are enormous. More and more industries are becoming commoditised, either through automation and self-service or where production or acquisition costs have plummeted allowing new entrants to set up shop with relative ease.
As the barriers-to-entry decline, competition becomes increasingly fierce and price becomes the main differentiator. Couple this with a well-informed customer base and it’s the perfect storm that is forcing businesses that don’t adapt quick enough into a race to the bottom.
Don’t Get Caught in The Middle
The informed customer loves to cut out the middleman. Businesses that are perceived to provide facilitation as their primary offering are most at risk.
Facilitation in this regard is anything from stocking a product on a shelf to giving advice. In a world that is in information overload, a false sense of expertise exists whereby customers think they can do just as good a job themselves, or go direct to the source and pay less.
The new ‘middlemen’ in this arena are couriers, freight services and crowdsourcing - to name a few. These industries are thriving.
Whether they have the facts or not, a customer armed with knowledge will be highly sensitive to price.
To Thrive, You Must Unlearn
If you want to thrive, the problem is not what you sell - it’s how you’re selling it.
Marketing messages often run contradictory to real-world value because we tend to overlook the truth in place of ‘creating’ a story we think will interest our market.
There’s an unwritten law that demands that the process of developing brands and marketing must be a wholly “creative” process that’s removed from the daily routine.
Real creativity, however, is being able to extract and compellingly communicate honest and real value.
Capitalise on your Truth
To thrive in today's marketplace, you need to adopt a truth-telling model of marketing. Traditional marketing focuses on comparative value.
You look at yourself based on how you stack up against direct competitors and develop a message that takes advantage of the perceived weaknesses in the market.
This SWOT style comparative model leads us to promote attributes based on gaps in a competitor’s offering, rather than capitalising on what we’re good at - and passionate about.
For example, if the marketplace average is to offer a one year warranty, there’s an opportunity to promote two-year warranties and so on. Yes, bigger and better wheels for the horse and cart will improve the journey somewhat, but booking a flight is a much smarter alternative.
Approach the situation laterally. Offering more of something is not compelling.
Forget about what you sell for a moment. Ask yourself what the outcomes for the customer are? Sometimes these outcomes seem far removed from your day to day operations.
Real world outcomes can be anything from time, safety, certainty, reduced stress, improved image to saving money. It could even be to reduce the risk of death.
It could be intangible things such as building self-esteem. Looking beyond immediate needs will allow you to frame what your business can provide in both a meaningful and honest way.
Stop worrying about what your competitors are doing. Dig deep into your truth; you will discover a compelling message that moves the conversation away from price.