From the Center for Strategic Relations, a twice-monthly supplement to Applying Strategic Relations, mailed at your request

Product Differentiation Strategy

Is what you offer no different than what your competitors provide? That's exactly what your customers want you to think. Commoditization could kill your ability to increase sales, unless you put into action today's product differentiation strategies for industrial marketers .

But first let me ask ...

Which of the last issues strategies for selling consulting services or other intangibles easily in less time did you benefit most from? I'd like to think you'd say each of the nine strategies mean something to your business; after all, it is many little steps that make a journey.

One of the biggest problems sales and marketing management faces today, and have faced since the beginning of time, is execution by their staff. I know you may have shared the last lesson with them in a sales meeting, but how many have taken action.

There isn't enough space in this newsletter, or enough weeks in the year to share with you all the tools necessary for maximum results. That's why you are encouraged to write in with your questions or visit to get the answers you need now.

Want better execution among your sales and marketing staff? If yes, invite them to join this newsletter by visiting -- you have nothing to lose. Many readers pick key topics from each issue to use in weekly sales meeting, to stimulate marketing campaign ideas, or in training new staff.

How do you use this newsletter? Reply with a brief essay on how to use this newsletter for better effectiveness in sales and marketing management -- share what you do, how long it takes, and the results it produces.Reply by Friday with your name, company, and address, and I'll send a gift that can improve team execution by 10-fold. (Respond today, first 7 only!)

In the next lesson you'll be disgusted by what you're doing right now to destroy customer loyalty and even invite competitors to steal your business . Missing the next lesson will put you out of business.


Justin Hitt
Consultant, Author & Speaker

Turn Around Forced Commoditization With This Product Differentiation Strategy For Industrial Marketers

By Justin Hitt, Strategic Relations Consultant,

Are customers forcing the commoditization of your solution in an effort to drive down prices? Are they training your sales people to believe what you offer is the same as any other? What can sales and marketing management do to push back this commoditization?

The answers may surprise you.

Today product differentiation is at an all time low, and as access to industrial markets increases products will seem closer and closer alike. This problem is even worse for resellers whose products are identical to those competing in the same market.

Product differentiation takes more than a unique value proposition, slogan, or catch phrase. Sales and marketing management can turn a commodity into an in-demand solution with unique value that drives buyers to say "Yes" when they ...

  1. Make the tangible intangible. Even if your solution has all the physical characteristics of a commodity, include something that can't be measured. This means add something that can't be touched but has unique value to the buyer.
  2. Add unique services. While your competition offers the same solution at a competitive price, what can you bring to a customer that isn't available anywhere? Sell the value of this unique approach, do something that the buyers wants but know one else will do.
  3. Deliver in a different way. If they can buy what you offer anywhere, make sure they can't get it delivered the way you do. Go beyond dropping off your solution to include a complete end-to-end installation, or even deliver to places others can't.
  4. Establish relationship value. Connect with your buyer on an emotional level; be sincere while looking out for their interests. Investing in your customers' best interest makes you unique even when what you offer is not.
  5. Emotionally tie value to benefits. Instead of just sharing benefits of ownership, tie them directly to a strong emotion or experiences the buyer wants. Sell what the buyer ultimately gains through a purchase from you and they will overlook similarities.
  6. Advocate for customers interests. Invest extra time up front to make sure a buyer gets exactly what they need for their particular situation. Use analysis or consultation to develop a vested interest in ordering from you because you are looking out for them even before the sale.
  7. Give customer competitive edge. Help your customer get more from your product after the sale, engage them in usage support that gives them an edge. Provide follow on service designed to help customers reduce costs, increase efficiency, or sell more of what they offer.
  8. Out market your competition. Be in front of every buyer in your market place every month, positioning your company as the leader in your field through demonstrated value. When you are known as a quality provider, prospects will come to you first before looking to the open market.
  9. Create unique associations. Instead of selling your offering in a vacuum, associate it to events and results desired by prospects. Help them see a solution from you moves them faster towards what they really want, rather than just filling the need for a particular solution.
  10. Create a pleasant buying experience. Buying from you must be a memorable exciting experience designed to help prospects feel special for choosing you. When they could have purchased anywhere, celebrate them purchasing from you.
  11. Make it easy to purchase and take delivery. Help prospects get exactly what they want, how they want it, and faster than they could anywhere else. Simplify the buying process in a way that makes it painless (easier) to buy from you.
  12. Improve follow-up and selling skills. Never sell on price, train sales people to sell on value, positioning your company far beyond anything else available in the market. Show buyers service before the sale, prompt follow up, and professionalism.

You (and your staff) are your biggest differentiating factor, the one thing that drives unique value home for prospective buyers, even when physical aspects of what you offer is truly just like what they can buy somewhere else. But fail to implement this product differentiation strategy, and you'll see your market share grabbed up by someone who does.

© 2006 Justin Hitt, All rights reserved.
/ customer-relations | marketing-strategy /

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