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How to differentiate

Peter O'Leary 25 Jul 2017 • 3 mins read

Have you ever wondered why consumers often behave as if they haven’t read the marketing plan? Why don’t they respond instantly to seemingly great products and smart tactical offers? Where is the disconnect? The marketing plan is written for an internal audience, while the consumer doesn’t care about sales objectives or brand goals.

It's smarter to engage with consumer behaviour than try and change it. We once believed that we should differentiate our product/service to provide a rational reason to engage. Having 10% more pixels, working 15% faster and/or has more satisfied customers is perfect for the people who buy those products/services regularly. It carries less value for everyone else - and when in almost every category the largest group of buyers are infrequent, the ‘everyone else’ is the group that matters most.

The example - someone working in procurement is an expert buyer and understands intimately the product/pricing models the market has on offer. A ‘deal’ is apparently instantly. Flip that to a consumer buying a new TV on the typical 4-year cycle. Technology has changed since the previous purchase so there is no direct comparative reference point. That consumer doesn’t know if the deal is good, great or shifting old stock. 10% more this or that is meaningless, although in a cluttered, commoditised market may be just enough to help.

Science is proven that buying decisions are all emotionally led, even in B2B. Emotion trumps thinking every day. By capturing attention using emotionally based triggers, you are more likely to make the shortlist. Make the shortlist more often and more sales will follow. In a cluttered world, people want short cuts. They say they want options but in reality they consider very few. When was the last time you searched Google and went beyond the first page of results (or beyond the first 3 organic responses)?

How to differentiate? Start from the consumer perspective. How do they see your category (the category is rarely as tightly defined as it might be in a marketing plan)? How do they see you versus your competitors (you share customers, and most believe that competitive products are virtually the same)? How is your brand codified and which brand assets are distinctive? How does your messaging stack? And the list goes on.

In the end, it’s not about being different. You need to be distinctive.

Can we help? Follow this link for more on our approach to Communication Strategy.