|The Importance of Being
© 2000 Steve Pinkston
Is Differentiation Marketing the next great marketing idea or is it simply the latest new buzzword?
Whatever it is, it’s the reason why Apple Computer “Thinks Different”,
and Dodge claims to be “Dodge Different”.
What is Differentiation Marketing?
Simply stated, it means that you are perceived differently, in a positive way, from your competition.
A typical reaction might be to say, “I don’t need to differentiate. All I need is to give my client a quality product at a low price and that will do the job.” The fact is, that on one level, that is differentiation. You are setting your product apart by selling it for a lower price than your competition.
But why minimize revenues and profits when its not necessary? Selling at a reduced price doesn’t take full advantage of everything differentiation has to offer. Differentiation Marketing affords you the ability to sell on many levels and achieve all of your marketing goals. People will pay a premium for a preferred brand and selling on price alone does little to establish brand preference. Department stores do this all the time. Otherwise, Bloomingdales wouldn’t be able to sell the same name-brand clothes for twice the price as Marshall’s. By selling a product or service that is similar to your competition’s on price alone, you’ve left little else on which your customer can make a buying decision.
Differentiation Marketing has four major goals:
None of this happens if your customer can’t distinguish you from your competition. Differentiation is key to any successful marketing program, because it is what gives your customer an understanding of your unique personality and a reason to remember you when it is time to buy. It gives your customer the special reason they are looking for to buy from you. Positively different makes the perception of your product better.
Lets take the the product that was selling only on price and add Differentiation Marketing. Develop a unique corporate identity with concept driven capabilities and product brochures and you start to build brand preference and position your company as a leader. Develop ads that not only promote economy, but unique features, benefits and quality manufacturing and you begin to build product awareness. Design a high-end identity and package, and all of a sudden, you have raised the perceived value of that product. Follow through by delivering what you promised, when you promised and you build customer loyalty. The difference between this and a typical marketing program is that with every effort you do everything you can to distinguish yourself.
In business to business marketing, differentiation is the process of positioning a company, product or service to avoid confusion with a similar company, product or service. To be different, you need to try new approaches, approaches never before attempted. This involves taking risks, not doing the same things that your competition does. Differentiation Marketing works when brands and products are remembered and purchased.
For marketing to work, brands and products must be remembered. To be
remembered, marketing must be unique. Being unique means being different.
Benefits and Characteristics of Differentiation Marketing
• Unique Identity
• Top of Mind Presence
• Reason To Buy
What Are The Characteristics of Differentiation Marketing?
• Big Idea
• Fresh Approach
Now that you know what Differentiation Marketing can do, the logical
question is “how does it get done”?
Four Steps of Differentiation Marketing; The Four I’s
A Few Words About Differentiation Marketing and Corporate Identity
Differentiation Marketing requires a unique corporate identity. Most companies want to be perceived in a way that will encourage customers to do business with them. To do that you must first know what sort of “personality” appeals to your customer. With what sort of identity will your customer feel comfortable doing business, while at the same time, differentiating you from your competition? Your corporate identity is the cornerstone to developing a successful brand. Most people think of a corporate identity as a visual thing. And the visual thing, of course, is a big part of it. But your corporate identity is, or has the opportunity to be, much more than visual. Your corporate identity goes way beyond the logo and stationery. The identity of your company includes graphics, sure, but it also includes words. These words speak volumes about your company–not only in what they say, but in how they say it. These words and images give your organization its own distinct personality and your corporate image plays a large role in forming your customers’ opinions about your organization.
You can’t be different simply to be different, there must be purpose and direction. It is essential to gather information, develop your plan of action and then put it into action—the 4 I’s of Differentiation Marketing. The bottom line questions always deal with maximizing profitability, developing market share and growing the business. The answers to these questions are achieved with Differentiation Marketing—putting your company in the unique position as a leader in your marketplace.