Marketing professionals continually explain to client's or employer's that for their products or services to sell well they must differentiate them from similar products or services sold by competitors.
"Differentiation is your key to success" is the oft' repeated phrase.
What it means, very simply, is that for their product or service to sell well, they must be - or at least appear to be - different from or better than similar products or services.
Believe me, buyers make comparisons constantly.
So if you make donuts, for example, can you sell a bakers' dozen - 13 in a box instead of 12? If you build cars, are yours quicker, bigger, more economical than your most direct competitor? Keep the needs and wants of your buyer in mind, because any benefits featured in your marketing efforts must be important to Mr.
Buyer, or they're irrelevant.
There are dozens of ways to differentiate your stuff, your product or service, things that will actually make them unique, as well as things that only appear to make them unique.
And speaking of unique, yes, "differentiation" is another way of saying what many marketing textbooks refer to as "USP," the Unique Selling Proposition of a product or service, even an entire company.
Depending on what's being marketed, among the most common differentiators are items like size, color, fabric, guarantee, price, delivery, credit terms, durability, design, utility.
Some differentiators are quick and easy to provide, such as delivery, a guarantee, or credit terms, for example.
Price is interesting because it doesn't always have to be the lowest price that's your differentiator.
It could be a substantially higher price that makes something more desirable.
Yes, there are many people in the world who believe that because something is more expensive it is better than a less expensive version.
But let's take just a minute to see how an unusual differentiator made a surprisingly huge difference for a small, home-based, licensed day care business.
This particular facility has been modestly successful for several years, catering as most do to working parents.
Parents would drop their children off each weekday morning, then pick them up each evening.
One day it dawned on the lady in who owned the business that there were many parents out there who needed only occasional child care, perhaps only for a couple of hours now and then.
When mom had a dentist appointment, for example, and didn't want to take her little ones along.
Or maybe when at the last minute a baby sitter canceled.
Who could care for those children with little or no notice? Her answer: She could.
Right there in her home, along with her day care children.
But she would do it at hourly rates that would be more than her day care parents paid.
She called it her "hourly convenience rate," the price a parent would willingly pay for the convenience of an instantly available baby sitter.
After just four months she more than doubled her income, the difference coming from parents - typically moms - who felt comfortable dropping their children off for a few short hours at an existing licensed day care facility.
In how many new and different ways can you differentiate your products, your services, your company? Think about it.