How to differentiate your product to the buyer


It is the seller’s responsibility to make his product stand out from the competitor’s, and more importantly, stand out in the buyer’s mind. And this is rarely achieved by …

Which of these are you likely to use? When withdrawing money using Visa, the ATM with a sanitizer next to it or the one without? The mask with a creative design on it, or one without it? The hand washing machine that is foot or hand operated? Most likely in this pandemic, you will choose the former every time. And that’s the thing about selling. When everything else is the same what stands out is what’s different.

Unfortunately, in today’s me-too world, all products are the same in the buyers’ eyes and it’s an exercise in splitting hairs trying to differentiate your product based on its features. It’s comparatively easier to think of differentiation in times of a crisis as we are in now. It’s easier to think of making designer face masks or masks with an emoji of a tongue sticking out; with hygiene being incessantly shouted from the rooftops it’s easier to take a hint and make your ATM stand out from the seven others next to it in the shopping mall by placing a hand sanitizer next to it.  Outside a crisis, product differentiation isn’t based on features and is harder. Marketing (branding and advertising) is the avenue most institutions take but the ultimate differentiation is in the moment of selling. You may have been overwhelmed by the advert but so underwhelmed by the purchase experience (the sale) that all the glitter instantly quit being gold.

It is the seller’s responsibility to make his product stand out from the competitor’s, and more importantly, stand out in the buyer’s mind. And this is rarely achieved by insisting that. “Our computers are priced more because being compliant with the law we charge VAT; we also give a two year manufacturer’s warranty.” It comes with comprehending what the buyer’s pain is and showing how you can relieve it. Everything else is background noise. And making your product stand out means thinking away from what the product is to how to make it receptive to the buyer.

Depending on your product or service and your typical buyer it can take many shapes; however, the underlying concept remains-the buyer’s need comes first. And the need is not only what the buyer says but also what you observe. For instance, the realtor who, says, “Take twenty-five steps this way and twelve that way. That is the size of the lounge.” As compared to a complicated, “The carpet area of the lounge is 98 square metres” Or, instead of giving the horsepower of his pump the seller who simply says, “It can pump water nine floors up so your four is child’s play.” Or, the self-cleaning fuel seller that tells the executive, “I will cut your production costs by 16 per cent. Here’s how.” Or, the hawker, instead of insisting, “kalamu ishirini” (sic) (Pens at twenty shillings only), tells the lady buyer thus: “This pen compliments your dress.” How do you differentiate your prosduct?

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