What is Marketing? A Key Aspect of It Is Differentiation.
Marketing has seen some major twists and turns since its conception. In the 21st century, there are all kinds of convoluted, customized methods and practices in marketing. For most businesses; however, there's no need to establish a new world order designed around your products. The technology marketers use has come a long, long way but the concept of marketing is the same.
Marketing is the process of creating, advertising and selling products. The goal of marketing is to sell the products and earn a profit. It has been the same since the beginning, when producers needed a way to let consumers find their goods in a sea of competing products. The solution they came up with is what we call a logo. They put clay seals on their goods, with an image or a name that was associated with their identity. Consumers, whether they knew it or not, attributed these images or names to the brand.
The brand is the sum of all perceptions about a product or company. Although in the early days of branding, consumers may only have had the seal, taste/appearance and function of the product to go buy, it would have been enough to achieve product differentiation. After all, the consumers couldn't have chosen a random producer unless they ignored the seal and the packaging. Today, there are endless ways to differentiate your brand. Everything from the way your website looks, to the way your voice sounds, to the durability of your product counts towards product differentiation. These are just a few examples of ways to and avoid being a commodity:
Give your product features the competitors' products don't have.
Provide better customer service.
Give your product or company a unique name. (but not something that is difficult to pronounce)
Give your product a lower (or higher) price.
Create unique advertisements.
Take part in extracurriculars. (sponsor events or give some profit to charity, for example)
Give your product a different sound or texture.
Design a logo that's easy to identify but isn't like any other.
Use regional identifiers like "Made in NY," "Southern Style" or "Asian Import."
Do things your way. If you want to open a potpourri shop with nothing but coin-operated dispensers inside, go for it! Being different pays off as long as there is demand for the brand.
Be Honest. Political expediency and excessive risk aversion don't pay off in the long run.
Create a completely new product or sell something where it's not available yet.
Create a culture. The original idea behind the business should be a guiding force. For example, Patagonia (the outdoor supply company) would not be such a successful brand if it were not so environmentally conscious and knowledgable about the outdoors. Give consumers something they can identify with, even if there won't be so many who get it.
Use a different channel. When all of your competitors advertise online, try something else. (free seminars, trade shows, networking events, radio, etc)
Take something old and make it new again. How else would you explain the resurgence of straight razors for shaving or the "other white meat" slogan?
Enlist the right people to promote your brand the right way. Think along the lines of Dove's "comfortable in my own skin" campaign, featuring Shaquille O'Neill. Certainly, there's no better person to communicate that message.
Make your website, social pages, etc. look different and work (even sound) differently.
What is marketing? It's differentiation. At least, that's the most important aspect of it. Differentiation is the most important aspect of a brand because without it, you may be selling a commodity. Without it, you're just not memorable enough. Not only should your brand be different, but it should also be portrayed differently. Decide what kinds of differentiation would serve your business best and get to work!
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